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Diary of a portrait in progress

A traditional pose with a nice tilt to the head.
This pose was chosen for the portrait from among five reviewed by the client. It's a good traditional pose.
Preliminary sketch for composition
First, a "to-size" sketch was done so the client could hang it and view it in location. No effort was made to do a finished sketch.
The composition is roughed in to get approximate position and value.
Next, I covered the entire canvas with color to get a sense of the whole composition.
I begin working on the features
I adjusted the size of the head. In previous sketches, the head was small in relation to the body, which would have made this teenage girl seem older than her actual age. The facial features are still not correct.
stage 4
I felt the head was not reflecting the intent of the original photo -- where it was more tilted, so I worked the tilt back in. (Note that the color of the photo of this and the next stage are more "purple" due to the film or developing process. The color of the painting has not substantially changed.
stage 5
I wasn't happy with the way the composition was developing. I felt the sitter was too much to the left of the frame, giving too much emphasis to the proposed flower arrangement on the right. So, at this point, the whole painting got reworked and the girl shifted to a more central position.

When I began to work on the flower arrangement on the table to the right, it became apparent to me that the background needed to be simplified. Too much activity to the right was pulling the attention away from the focal point. At this stage, the challenge will be to create interest which moves the eye around the canvas while not disracting from the girl's face. The shadows help to unify the picture elements.




We began actual sittings to correct fine points and capture the essence of the sitter. I discovered that this young girl had a different shape to her face than appeared from the first photo work we did. Her elfin face still needs work, but this is closer than the last iteration.
Here is the final portrait. We were all very pleased with it!


  Big Cats in Snow
Monday, August 21, 2000