Hello Friends: I had about 2 hours with Alex to paint his portrait the other day. Since I know that I'll only have a short time, I know that I won't have a complete, detailed portrait at the end, but I do like to have a few things achieved:
1. Do I have a decent likeness? The only way to get a painting to look like the sitter is to spend a lot of time in the beginning with the underlying drawing. I try to never rush the drawing. Careful, slow observation and measuring are so important. I'd rather have a well-drawn portrait with no color than a badly drawn portrait in beautiful hues.
2. Do I have a good sense of light and shadow? The excitement in a portrait often comes from the lighting on the subject. With Alex, I pushed the lit side of his face to contrast with the shadows under his cap. I also tried to remember that the black of his cap in the light will not be black so the light will show on it.
3. Do I like the painterly quality? At the end of my time with the model, I'll stand back to see if I can lose some edges or add some thick opaque paint to give the painting more interest. I went back into the lit side of his face to lay thick new color on top of what I had already established. I scumbled the paint a bit on his shoulders and added highlights on his nose and cap.
I love painting from the model because it forces me to be decisive and quick. This method of painting is a lot like perfecting a golf swing or playing the piano-- the more you do it, the more automatic it becomes. And the happier you'll feel!