Pastel Portrait Painting Demonstration Step by Step

About the Artist

Jean Hildebrant paints in oil and pastel mediums. Specializing in portraits and figurative works. Jean also teaches classes and workshops on how to paint the portrait and figure in oil and pastel. For portrait commissions, contact the artist. As Jean continued seeking out ways to improve her talents, she attended workshops held by local artists and enrolled as an art major in the local college.

As a result of her efforts, she won two scholarships to Scottsdale Artists School, based strictly on the merit of her work. She has studied with nationally known artists Albert Handell, Richard McKinley, Phil Beck, Bob Lemler, Ben Konis and Clayton J. Beck 111. Artists that have influenced her work include John Singer Sargent, Joaquin Sorolla and Anders Zorn. Jean’s favorite subject is the human soul.

She desires to capture the essence and inner beauty of the human spirit through the use of light and color. She wants her paintings to speak to the emotions and spirit of each person who views them. She paints realism with the purpose of leaving an indelible impression. Jean has exhibited and won numerous awards in local and national shows.

Jean’s Websites:

Pastel Portrait Painting Demonstration

(Click Images for Larger Views)


Step 1

I recently was the demo artist for UArt sanded pastel paper at the NAMTA trade show. I started this on their 800 grit board. Here is the first stage, the drawing. I am working on 24×18 and I gridded the board to help keep the composition placed correctly. I have drawn this on in a sepia colored pastel pencil.

Step 2

In step two, I have added some soft pastel mostly in the shadow areas. I then took a brush dipped in denatured alcohol and washed over most of it creating a wash. This helps to fill in the dark areas without filling the tooth too quickly.

Step 3

In step three, I start laying darks, warm and cool colors, using the side of the sticks in brush-like strokes as well as cross hatching in other areas using the ends of the sticks. I am trying to establish the pattern of light and shadow. I am searching for the temperature changes particularly in the skin tones.

Step 4

Here I have continued working on the heads and started laying in more of the background. I am using lighter tones than the photograph has in the background, wanting to keep a bit more of a light filled atmosphere. I don’t want the space to seem dark and depressing. I use grayed out colors of green, reds, and violets to compliment the greens and golds in the main area of the painting.

Final Step

This is the final pastel portrait of titled “Devotion”. I continued laying in the remaining flesh tones on the chest, arm and legs, paying close attention to the interplay of cool and warm colors. The light was coming through the window and was a cool temperature. I laid in the background loosely, not wanting it to compete with the figures. The fabric in the foreground was laid in in cool colors and I repeated some of those colors in the background for color harmony. I tried to keep a more painterly feel by not blending and leaving the strokes visible. My goal for this painting was to portray the love and emotions of a Mother, (particularly my daughter) for her child. What a blessing a healthy child is! So thankful for my children and now our grandson, Ezra Michael.



  1. Lora Block says

    Jean, what a beautiful painting I always tell the bunch here in Oregon you were one of the best artists we ever had here.

  2. Melissa Lundberg says

    I would love to know what colors she used for the shadows and also the warms. Was it raw unber and burnt siena?

  3. says

    Melissa Lundberg, I have so many odds and ends of pastel and they often don’t come with a color name, usually a number. I used an olive green or raw umber and burgandy in the shadows along with other colors. I painted the half tones, where the light meets the shadow with a warm orange/red. then used more neutral flesh tones in the light, always looking for temperature changes. There are so many colors! Red violets, blue violets also in shadows but also very warm color in some shadow areas on the baby’s leg and on both of the faces.I hope this helps. It’s so hard to go back and try to remember. 🙂

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