I have been working on this portrait for a while now, and finally had a breatkthrough.
The reference photo is from JoSchwab on http://joschwab.deviantart.com/art/Laura-59908909 THe original photo leans toward a very monochrome feel, and is pretty high contrast. I simply liked the pose and the feel of the piece, and all of the cool flesh colors in the shadows.
It seemed at the time that this would be fairly straightforward.
Ha-ha. Things are not always what they seem.
Here is my initial painting in acrylic, 11"x14". Some good things are happening, but the flesh tones are kinda pasty. Overall, the whole thing appears flat. In addition, it seemed I couldn't get the lights white enough.
I decided I needed to work on some color studies to get a handle on this one.
My friend Rose suggested I try a bright underpainting to give me something to bounce the colors off of.
Here are a few studies 4"x5"with a various underpainting colors:
Interesting, but the skin tones are still not happening as I would like. I decided I would have to liven up the flesh tones, even though the original photo was very cool and bluish, and almost washed out in the lights.
After some research and experimentation, I realized that I was pushing the colors too far to the extreme ends of the value scale. So I revisited and I found some simpler and more straightforward methods of mixing colors that resulted in a variety of warm, cool and neutral flesh tones.
The first one on the right was a step in the right direction, but still the flesh tones were dead and flat.
The second one on the left was better. Getting closer...
I realized that I needed to keep the colors closer in hue as well as value. A little bit goes a long way when it comes to flesh tones.
Here is the most recent study 4"x5":
BAM! Now we're talking!
This one is finally coming alive! It is such a rush when you get to the other side of a breakthrough. Finally, I feel like I can actually paint.
In the end, it is all about value, and small shifts in hue. There is no pure white nor pure black in this one.
This is quite a departure from the original photo. I need to go with what works for the painting and not be a slave to the reference. When all is said and done it may come back around and be quite a bit more like the original.