This week brought a terrific new portrait model. Her name was Andrea, and she was a delight to chat with after the session in addition to being a joy to paint.
The painting started out well, One thing that worked well was establishing a vibrant background early on. The main parts of her body also got blocked in along with the golden under-painting color for her cascade of hair. You can see this color peeking through the darker auburn in the highlights.
Unfortunately, the coloring of the face went wrong almost from the very start. One little mistake after another piled up: at first it was too pink, then got too dull, then much darker than the rest of the skin-tone in the shadows. The shadows were either too sharp-edged, or too watery, losing their impact.
Meanwhile, I kept trying to adjust the color of the rest of the piece to match the rapidly degrading face. This had the effect of an arms-race in paint: when the face got too dark, everything had to get darker in order to not make it look out-of-place.
When on the brink of wholesale overworking, I landed on an okay configuration of light/shade/color for her lovely face. With time running out on the pose, the details of her features came together rapidly, which was a boon to the goal of keeping them fresh, but also contributed to a slight cartoonish-ness.
The final touch – and the one that brought the whole thing together – was the white froth of her embroidered blouse. This was made of white gouache laid on over all the colored areas. Despite the looseness of loops, it lends a curious finished quality to the piece, which turned out pretty satisfying.
I can’t wait until Andrea returns next Friday. See you all, then.