Face to Face

I had a long run of long days recently in New Mexico – 12-hour days for three straight weeks, worked right through the weekends. No time for painting, but we did get a lot done on the telescope.

Got back to Seattle on Monday, and am getting back to one of my favorite things: portraits. I did one earlier this week; it did not go well. Things descended into mud pretty quickly. Started a new painting yesterday, after watching (and re-watching) the first half of Charles Reid’s Figurative Watercolor. It’s a great video, with lots and lots of details. And I admire Reid’s portrait work, and would like to develop a livelier portrait style of my own. 🙂

Here’s the start, with the face drawn and the first layers of color, shadow (and paper for highlights).

Intense lady (2)
Getting started.

I considered it a good start. Most of the shadows look right (I would have liked to take some of them deeper, but did not), and the highlights were mostly OK as well. I let it dry, then proceeded to do the more serious painting. Unfortunately, all I remembered from the Reid tutorial was how to get to this point. I couldn’t remember what to do next! So I just keep painting, of course, rather than stop and think.

That got increasingly frustrating; I got to this point:

Intense lady (1)
Stage two

The right edge felt out of control. The shadows around the eyes felt wrong. The hair looked OK. Lips OK. So a real mixed bag. I stopped — and I rarely have enough self-control to stop; I usually keep going until I’ve made a major mess! So that was good.

Today, I went back into the painting with some good ideas. I re-watched the video, got myself square on what I might try to do, and headed for a local coffeehouse where I like to paint. I lifted some stuff that was too dark; I softened some edges. I re-established the lines and boundaries that felt wrong. And then I added a little more paint where I thought it should go. I added a little flair here and there. Added background. This was the final result:

Intense lady

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