My first step, above, was to tone the panel with a bit of burnt sienna and ultramarine blue, thinned well with mineral spirits. Next step was to sketch in the proportions of the head. Working on an 8 x 10 panel, I make things a lot easier on myself by cropping my digital photo exactly as I wanted it cropped at exactly 8 x 10 proportions. This allows me to do the sketch paying attention to the shaped of the head as well as the shapes of the negative space around the head. This is painted from the image on the monitor.
Admittedly, I got a little lost right away. I started jumping around trying to "get something right" instead of focusing on connecting values and shapes. Jumping around is always my downfall. Part of the problem is that I do not realize I am doing the jumping around.
And no one was around to stop me.
Eventually, I come to my senses and do the only thing I can do to make the painting better: remove the offending parts. My general proportions were mostly right as far as placing the head on the panel, but I went awry somewhere near the mouth.
As soon as I wiped off the mouth, The Voices stopped.
Just kidding. Now they only sounded muffled.
I got the bigger shapes dropped back in; a smaller mouth, the orange of the background, the cool of the flesh in light.
Back on track, I worked on balancing the shadow values more with the light values, trying to separate the warm shadows from the cool north light on the brighter side. I also blockiin the hand, which I see as an element of the painting that is necessary for the femininity in the pose, but not important enough that I want to draw attention to it. I intend to keep it impressionistic.
Curl – 8" x 10" oil on panel, by David R. Darrow
The completed painting is a result of refocusing and starting at the top of the forehead and working my way down checking the drawing, comparing shapes, values and hues, adjusting edges and temperatures.
I try not to get discouraged when a painting goes off a bit. I don't like that I have to spend extra time on it, but it does feel good to whip it back into shape.