Loki Painting Process

Today will be a long and detailed post on my process for Loki the Shifter.

If you’ve been following me on Instagram you’ll know I’ve been working on Loki the Shifter for a few months (If you’re not following me you should, check me out on Instagram HERE). I started painting Loki back in July as a part of a demo at Jerry’s Artarama in Nashville, but the piece began even before that when my friend, Laura Dasnoit, commissioned me to do a painting of Loki based on the Norse Myths that featured Loki’s shapeshifting abilities.

When working with myths there is a lot of visual interpretation, and with a popular God and literary figure like Loki there’s a lot to consider. I asked Laura to describe her thoughts on Loki, and she said this, “Loki, to me, is an attractive and cunning individual. He seems to always be one step ahead. His strength is his wits. I love the shape-shifting aspect of him and that he convinced Thor to wear a wedding dress.” After that I started working on some thumbnails, and then began to ponder Loki’s facial hair. Obviously beards are a viking staple, but because of Loki’s trickster nature he is often depicted as elf-like and clean shaven. I asked Laura her preference and she said “no beard.”

With all that out of the way I did my first scribble of an idea.


Then I refined it digitally and showed it to Laura. She loved it!


So I did a sketch based on my thumbnail.


At this point I shot a reference photo. I find it easy to relate to the Trickster God, so I posed for Loki.


Then I did a final drawing.


While looking at the drawing I decided I wanted to add a pattern from a book of Norse Patterns I picked up at the Tennessee Ren Fair. So I added the pattern digitally.

Loki the Shifter

I filled the background in white, then I printed out my drawing and mounted it on hard board.


Now I was ready to start my demo!


The first technique I showed was working with Acrylic paint and then using water from a spray bottle to pull out interesting patterns in the paint. This is why the white background is so key, that way when you wipe stuff out you see the white showing through. You have to work fast because acrylics dry very quickly!


After that I started adding oil paint, playing around with shapes and colors in the background. I primarily use a mix of 2 parts Linquin and 1 part OMS (odorless mineral spirits) as my medium. I also went in with a rag and/or a brush loaded with OMS to wipe out the oil paint in places, again letting the white of the board show through. I kept going back and forth between adding paint and then subtracting it in places to create interesting shapes.


Then I used oils to block in an under painting on all the animals.


That’s all I was able to finish in my 2-hour demo. But look how happy I am!


When I got home I went ahead and painted in the first layer of Loki’s face. For the first layer of a face in oil paint I like to use OMS to thin the paints. I don’t add in any other mediums at this point.


I painted the wolf’s face.


Then the salmon and the horse.


And finally the snake, seal, and falcon. I also did another pass on Loki’s face, this time with thicker paint mixed with my Linquin & OMS medium.


The next photo shows how I painted in the moon. At this point the moon was still the acrylic underpainting I did back at the demo. All I did was paint some dark blue right next to the moon to establish its circular shape. The moon is not painted with very bright paint, but because it’s next to some very dark colors it makes the moon seem to glow! Then using reference photos of the moon I added in a few highlights and darkened the edges of the moon slightly. I also painted in the spider and his web.


With the moon blocked in I added in the stars by flicking light colored paint with a toothbrush. I painted in the fly, and started detailing the various animals.


After all that I did another pass on the face and some more detail work. My wife pointed out Loki’s hairline was too low, so I painted in more of his forehead. I also realized that his shoulder felt wrong so I painted in some more sky to help cut a clear silhouette for Loki. I varnished the painting and photographed it for the final.

Loki the Shifter by Sam Flegal

Loki the Shifter by Sam Flegal

With all that I was done!


To see more of my work or to contact me for availability to help with your project please visit: www.samflegal.com


3 thoughts on “Loki Painting Process

  1. Pingback: I vilket Sam Flegal, den glade konstnären, målar sig en bild av Loke… Och nog verkar Lokes krafter i Världen… | Hedniska Tankar

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