Nomi Wagner Portrait Artist

Honoring Our Parents: A Portrait Painting Tutorial

by Nomi Wagner

I can’t think of a more lasting, endearing way to honor our parents than by painting their portraits. I recently finished a commission of my neighbor’s parents who passed away many years ago. The only photo my neighbor had was a wallet-sized picture that was rather blurred when I scanned and enlarged it, but it was still good enough quality for me to see details. I was happy to be able to create a portrait that would help my neighbor to cherish his parents’ memory.



After being a portrait photographer for so many years, I was compelled to improve the pose (couldn’t help myself!) because I wanted to give this lovely couple the respect they deserved.

When I did the preliminary sketch in Corel Painter, I drew them closer to each other and  tilted their heads to make the pose more intimate, reflecting their loving relationship.



One of the first things I learned as a photographer was to snug up the collars on jackets and shirts. In this case, it helped the couple’s posture and gave them a more stately bearing to draw their clothing with a neater, better fitting appearance. It was fun drawing and painting the tie and figuring out how to make a knot with the diagonal stripes going in the opposite direction from the rest of the tie.

 Finally, I chose the colors of the background and foreground to harmonize with their clothing, creating a cohesive blend of elements.

Painting their portrait was a joy. Don’t you just want to give them a hug?!