These past two days I’ve been working on a more detailed portrait, so I thought it would be fun to document the process to some extent. I know I’ve previously written about the drawing I did to prepare for this, and watch as all of my predictions come true (the same problems I had with the drawing, I have with the painting!)
I do an under-drawing first. You can find several examples of under-drawings farther back in my blog. Then in this case, I wanted to start with huge areas of wet paint to work into. In this picture, I’ve blocked in only my light areas.
With the shadows blocked in. Notice that in the first picture, my model looks like he has quite a warm skin tone, but as I add the warm shadows, you can see that the skin is actually on the gray side.
Adding more depth here. One trouble I run into is that when I do the cool lighting, the shadows should be generally “warm.” However, often my warmer tones don’t get quite dark enough to really show my form. Here I’ve utilized mixing my favorite warm shadow colour, burnt sienna, with ivory black, which is a cool black often used to mix blues. The burnt sienna disappears into the black, however the eye can tell that it’s there and it’s correct.
Last night I started working more closely on the features, starting in with a smaller paintbrush than one I used for my large block ins. Buy some large paintbrushes for your big areas and use them as long as you can – this helps you get that initial paint on the canvas that you can then paint the details into, and it also helps you break each shape down into the largest, most simple form you can. Take a look at the eyes I blocked in at the top – those are most definitely not detailed! However, as I work on this tonight and tomorrow, you will see the progress quite easily and you will see where I add details later.
In this final picture you can see that I moved the neck in a bit too far – this was a problem I also had with the drawing! Most of the other parts of this painting are correct more or less, because the width of the face was addressed in my drawing and I went out of my way to make sure it was correct on my canvas before putting it down – but apparently I got carried away around the neck. Take the time to put in your shapes correctly – it’s worth it!
Part two coming soon!