For my painting today I was trying to follow an idea from Robert Henri in his book The Art Spirit.
The basic idea is to start with a quick drawing of the figure focusing on getting the placement and accuracy of all the large masses. Then blocking those major masses in with basic flat color. With these simple masses focus on making the best design possible before working on the details.
I’m paraphrasing Robert Henri heavily but it didn’t quite work out well for me anyway. I didn’t like any of the three drawings I made so I just went directly with paint and tried to block in the masses and then realized that the drawing was very incorrect. So I just fell back on my normal method of working and having fun with providing an accurate impression of the portrait.
I do feel that I captured the model’s mood though. She would have a ritual of stretching before resuming the pose that would get her posture correct but also made here look very regal and confident. I feel I captured that well.
I also had kind of an epiphany of relative size. As I was stopping one 20 minute segment of painting I thought it would be nice to have this well formed simply blocked out face at life size. Basically it would be the same rendering with simple shapes yet bigger. But I’m already doing that. It’s just at a different scale. I could start with a large canvas and a head at life size and use a larger brush and a bunch of paint to get the same effect. Or I can continue painting like this with a very small head and a relatively large brush. Everything depends on your level of magnification.