For the last couple of years I’ve had the pleasure of getting together with my paintin’ buddies on Monday night to work on my weekly portrait from life. Its become a kind of ritual that gets my week off to a good start. I really appreciate Za Vue for hosting, thanks Za! ; - )
My aim has been to consistently finish a portrait study in one sitting ( 2 - 3 hrs ), work broadly with bigger brushes, keep things fresh and not get fussy. In other words, have fun, learn and improve incrementally! I generally don't go back and work into the painting once I'm finished and that helps me to stay focused on finishing in a set time.
WORKING SMALL, PAINTING BIG
For awhile I was painting life-size in a 16 x 20 format but I’ve switched gears recently and began painting in the smaller formats of 6x8 and 8x10. Even though I’m using smaller brushes I still want to keep the broader look of working bigger and keeping things painterly.
When I’m short on time my focus changes to practicing block-ins. The block-in, or lay-in, is like the foundation of house so rather than worry about finishing the painting or detail I strive to make the block-in as solid as I can. They're gratifying to paint because I know that when my block-ins are off to a good start my chances for successfully finishing the painting with greater amounts of detail are much higher!
For color I most often use the Zorn palette ( white, yellow ochre, cadmium red light, cold black ) which I pre-mix in value strings of 3, 5 and 7. This is a great time saver when working live. And keeps my values organized and easy to adjust ( color, value & temperature ). I add colors as needed or when I want to try out other hues.