About Face

Portrait, face detail, Jeffrey Smtih

So you’ve covered the canvas.  The portrait is done, right? Not quite.  After the lay-in is complete,  it’s time to step back and looks at the painting.  The best question that you can ask yourself at the start of each studio session is, “What is the goal of this painting?”  In this case, the goal is to produce a portrait that looks like the subjects.  With that goal in mind, my plan for today was to dive in and spend some much needed time on the heads and faces of the family.   During this process, it can be very tempting to push one head closer to completion, leaving the others in the simplified block in stage.  For a multi-figured painting, it is important that all of the heads get worked on at the same time.  This establishes a sense of depth and establishes a light source in the painting that gives the final piece it’s feeling of three dimensions.

These first few days on a new canvas are always very exciting.  You come into the studio, and painting looks a certain way.  Mistakes or errors are very easy to spot when your eye is unused to the picture in front of it.  Your eye is at it’s freshest, when you first see an image. The longer you study or work, your eye becomes more saturated with the images.  Your eye can reach this point after only a few minutes.  Mistakes are very easy to make at this point.

There is a great feeling of accomplishment at the end day when you have taken something from a raw, abstract, lay-in, and advance it to something that starts to take on some of the characteristics of the final painting.  The series of corrections continues…