The grid system used for a dot-to-dot initial layout drawing for this portrait worked well. Back to having a brush in hand, I'm more at home switching to the alla prima approach for a more gestural portrait. The gesture approach suits the subject's perch on that fence; he's not secure. He's balancing on that rail with no hands. I'd like to catch the vicariousness of his position. With the slightest movement, he could lose his balance and fall forward or back. He is a boy caught feeling his oats in a fleeting moment of time. Where at first I thought I'd paint him in a controlled manner, I've changed my mind. There's nothing controlled about the way this sitter is sitting--including how I took the photograph.
I spontaneously snaped the photo in a back lighted situation without thinking, without using the flash to correct the situation. Consequently, the subject is very dark and the features less pronounced. There was no time at the time to fool around with camera settings. JD's pose was spur-of-the-moment and my settings were what they were, (set to take photos of art on the easel in the studio). What to do? I employed Ellis as a stand-in. Standing with the light from our doorwall at his back, I photographed him with the camera set appropriately to get an idea of how the light would have hit JD's face and shirt. I was about the same distance from Ellis as I had been from JD. Ellis was standing. I was sitting approximating what my position to JD had been. Ellis' face came out very well lighted--too well lighted--nearly washed out. The flash lighting was harsh. I will paint the kid as I saw him. A back lighted portrait is more unorthodox than a teethy smile, but in this situation, it was the truth. A gestural portrait style is also the truth of the informal situation and the subject's casual dress. The loose style will describe the briefness of the event.
Today's session involved pinning down the initial pencil drawing by covering the lines with a very thin mix of oil paint and laying down some values to test my back lighting decision,(I like it).
Because I do love taking snap shots and the lighting situations are nearly always imperfect, I went looking for a photography book on using natural light. I found a wonderful one titled, Natural Light Portrait Photography by Douglas Allen Box, copyright 2001. It tells you everything you ought to do when photographing subjects out of doors and got me to play around with my camera--and Ellis. It told you nothing about snap shot photography. I'll keep looking--or I'll forget about it and continue as I have been: following my intuition on the spot. But if you would like to know more about natural light photography, do take a look at this book. It's excellent and very affordable. I got it used from Amazon for $1.18 plus $3.99 for shipping.