calf oil painting
©2011 Phil Beck, “Calf Demo”

It takes a lot of talent, technical ability and artistic confidence to make a painting demonstration look simple.

Recently, Phil taught an “Animal Workshop” at the Scottsdale Artists School in Arizona. The calf painting to above and the demonstration below are demonstrations from his class. I thought you all would enjoy seeing Phil’s straightforward approach toward teaching, which needs little explaining. (A few of the pics are a bit blurry).

calf underpainting

Phil obviously understands the anatomy of an animal. In this first step, he confidently decides the placement of the portrait and draws the basic shape of the calf head.

calf oil sketch

Phil continues oil painting by thinly blocking in the background colors. The greens will be a natural compliment to the oranges in the calf hair.

Phil continues blocking in the light, shadow and coloration of the calf. Notice how Phil uses the background color to define the shadow of the calf which adds to the congruity and harmony of the painting.

More, refining the light and defining the shadow. Phil lightens the background around the muzzle of the calf which strengthens the shapes and design.

calf head
“Calf Demo” ©2011 Phil Beck

With his painterly approach, Phil keeps his brushwork fresh and dynamic. Notice how he keeps the shadows thin and translucent while building up the impasto effect in the whites of the calf. The carefully placed brushstrokes helps to sculpt the shape and structure of the head and suggest the calf hair.

For more great animal demos, check out my Fine Art Tips – Painting Techniques & Professional Advice from 24 master artists available on Amazon, at Barnes and Nobel or from the North Light Shop!


Phil Beck started his career as a successful illustrator in Chicago and was drawn to the world of fine art in 1980 when he arrived in Scottsdale, Arizona. A colorist with a painterly style who stresses harmony in his artwork, Beck studied at the American Academy of Fine Art in Chicago. He is a versatile artist who specializes in figurative work. Beck’s love for animals is apparent in his work, and animals appear in most of his paintings as he brings them to life on canvas. His predominant medium is oil, but he is also known for his speed and accuracy in his beautiful drawings. He paints full time in his Scottsdale studio, but is never too far from the desert he loves. He has been featured in Southwest Art, Art of the West, Western Horseman, and several other publications. He is represented by West Lives on Gallery in Jackson Hold, Wyoming and Mountain Trails Gallery in Sedona, Arizona.

Thank you Phil for sharing your beautiful demonstration with us! ~Lori

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You might enjoy some further reading:
How to Paint Iridescent Bird Feathers and Make Them Glow (video)
How to Paint Animal Fur (video)
Still Life Painting: Create Your Own Small Universe

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