My goal during the first sitting is to establish the drawing structure using accurate colors and shapes.
This is my initial lay-in:
First I painted a light wash of the average skin in light, keeping very abstract and loose but defining the overall head placement. I started defining her facial structure by finding the corner of the eyes, then sketching in the basic landmarks of the face. The shadow side of the face was receiving a soft overhead cool fill giving it a slightly greener hue, whereas the shadows on the light side of the face were receiving a warm bounce from the models skin. From there I found the bottom of the nose, muzzle, and chin. I indicated the placement of the cheekbone with a little local color also found in the bulb of the nose and chin. Finally I indicated the placement of the ear and further defined the head by sketching in the shape of the hair, neck and clothes with a few simple brush strokes.
The hard work put in during the lay-in will make completing the painting merely a matter of pushing and pulling at values and modulating hues.
I began this sitting by brushing in a background color to help the shadow side of the face turn. From there I indicated the shape of the lips and ears and began refining the flesh tone on the light side of the face. It was important maintain the redness in the cheeks and bulb of the nose compared to the desaturated yellows and purples in the surrounding areas. I also made sure to keep the greatest contrasts around her left eye to create an emotional focal point.
Here I finally acknowledge the third light source in the image: a low cool rim light I placed behind the model in order to add interest to the shadow side of the face. I indicated the brows and refined the eyes paying attention to the established perspective. In order to frame her face better I brushed in the hair behind the models ear. It’s also important to note that I began paying greater attention to edges at this point by squinting down to see which edges are sharp and which ones are lost.
I focused mostly on my highlights and darkest darks here, trying to capitalize on the established forms by increasing value contrast. The highlights along her cheekbone, brow and eye add a finishing spark to the image that brings it to life. The final stage of the painting is where I refine details: adding anything that’s missing and removing anything that shouldn’t be there.
9”x12” Oil on Linen.