It's how you do it in residential spacial design. It's how you do it in portraiture.
In the shower at six thirty AM, I thought, 'The trouble with Zac is he is all mid-tones and darks. And I didn't paint him that way. I've been seeing him as light. I've been seeing him all wrong. Bazinga!'
I went down stairs thinking, 'I was also not getting his tilt and the common points, the shared measurements, between father and son. I needed to analyze. I needed to take the slow boat.'
And so I did. First with charcoal:
|Top of Steve's orbital cavity on line with bottom of Zac's nose; Zac's chin|
on line with Steve's lower lip. You can't check measurements too much.
My thinking on values was correct. Likeness was the least of my concerns. I was looking for shared values and how features matched up between them--in particular, Steve's lower lip on horizontal line with Zac's chin--the nemesis of this little project. (I don't want to change the pose to make it easier on myself. I want me to get Zac just the way he was mugging for the camera. That's what I liked about the photograph). I drew a lot of lines through the reference photo and through the charcoal drawing. Spent the morning noticing everything.
Then in oils:
|Limited palette. Measuring all the way hopefully home tomorrow.|
I still had raw umbra, burnt umbra and white on the palette. I used the raw and the burnt and the umbra wash to register the medium, dark and light areas. Instead of mixing a mid-tone between a totally saturated color and white, I used colors that fell into those categories. This was how I did it years ago. I always used the canvas wash as the light. Not ever white. The Zac of yesterday was the wrong way to go. And no white is why Steve came out so much better.
A whim, a need, an intuition got me to add two more colors to the palette, sap green and transparent red oxide. I was set to carry this portrait, good likeness or poor, through to finish--where one more act would push the painting over the edge, (Vianna Szabo's definition).
Meanwhile, a gal, from the workshop returned my call telling her I registered for the pastel course, to tell me she did too, as did another gal I was chatty with. I like the camaraderie of artists. That was the other reason I left my comfort zone down in the basement.