In the Beginning …the blank canvas



This used to be the hardest part of the painting process for me, staring at that blank canvas.

I have some thoughts in my head about a great painting, but the minute I put a brushstroke on the canvas, reality sets in, can I really make those ideas a reality?

My solution to this has been what I call my “predictable start.” It’s a way of easing into the painting without a lot of decision making while having a little more fun.


The first step is a simple pencil sketch of the dark and light shapes and how I’m going to organize them in the painting.  This is kind of a bridge between the reference material and the painting.
Next I choose a color to represent the darks and block in those shapes on the canvas, doesn’t matter what color, sometimes the right thing painted over the wrong thing can be very exciting so any color will do.
This is where I wanted to be with my start. The canvas broken up into simple value shapes, now I’ve got something solid to work into. I’ll let this dry, look at it a little bit, come back tomorrow and start painting.



Painting Small Faces

The problem with painting small faces from photos-


Here is the photo I am working from-

The first problem is what I think I can do- just dash a few spots and magic, I have a face. Nine times out of ten this does not work. Then I realize I really don’t know what’s going on with that head, is it tilting slightly upward or downward turning left or right, how is it attached to the neck?
Here’s a painting I’ve started with a small face. Maybe you can sense already the struggle I’ve had with that little face.  This is when I know I need to grab a sketchpad look at that face do a sketch of what is really
What I know now is her head is slightly tilted to one side also tilted slightly upward because I can see the bottom of her nose and a little bit of the bottom of her chin.
Also where the ears are on the side of the head always are a good clue. If they line up with the tip of the nose the head is level if they’re below the nose than the head is tilted back if they’re above the nose then the head is tilted forward.
It’s starting  to go in the right direction,  onto the next challenge….