My strongest work are my abstracts, but sometimes the figurative comes out in me and I produce some good landscapes, still life paintings, and portraits. I enjoy these more than my abstracts because of the challenge they present, but like anything they require practice. I came across these videos by Joseph Lorusso who shows us how he builds up his palette and uses it on canvas to produce a portrait. There are some good tips in here on figurative oil painting. I hope you enjoy. You can view both on www.artinstructionblog.com.
The vast majority of my work is abstract, even when I do figurative work. I don’t develop my paintings the same way a typical portrait artist may do. Background for me needs to be simple so that the focus is on the figure first. From there, the way I develop my palette is often based on which of the strongest colors I have immediately available to me. The figure, to many, is about some sort of realist approach. The artist typically wants the figure to look like a real person, but I don’t always take that approach. As long as the figure is recognizable, then that’s aesthetically appropriate enough for my tastes.