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I don’t believe I’ve had the chance to cover my full palette. It’s based around a lot of what I’ve learned from Nathan Fowkes and Sean Cheetham, and It is mostly a mud palette. It is a full palette, but the majority of what I use more or less hovers around yellow ochre, burnt sienna, burnt umber, ultramarine blue and alizarin crimson. Beyond that, I do have a handful of other colors that I find helpful, but for the most part they are convenience colors or accents or help me tint a color to be the exact temperatue that I’m searching for.


I do draw the drawing first and foremost. That’s why my paintings aren’t loose and painterly like some of my idols are. I keep the big ideas in my head and sculpt a note, or plane at a time typically. Maybe one day soon I’ll do a process set focusing as much on the drawing as on the painting.

But to give you an idea. I typically start off with a red pencil sketch on a mid-weight mid-tone paper. I like oatmeal and grey because they do a lot of the hard work for me and let me start from a neutral ground. And I use a red pencil because I find that, with portraits especially, if I use a cooler color it tends to make it a little bit more difficult to get a warmth to their skin and makes them feel zombie-like.

Thomas S

Next I mostly lay in my major notes… and I just begin sculpting from there. I typically start with defining my shadow shapes and my darkest darks and I move, slowly, towards the lightest lights in the painting. Depending on the stage in the painting I work mostly wet-into-wet to keep some of my edges fairly soft. I tend to work more wet onto dry at later points in the painting, but will re-wet an edge here, or there to have a dominant edge to a mark that I make.


To be honest, my process is very deliberate and fairly boring. And even a lot of the really spontaneous looking stuff is actually fairly designed and deliberate. On the one hand I know what the medium will do, more or less, and what it will end up looking like, more or less, but I also don’t have exact control of it and it can help keep it fresh and exciting for me as well.