Lately I’ve been going through some of my older, not as successful paintings, deciding which one to use as a base for a new one, a sort of “Phoenix rising from the ashes” approach.
There are huge benefits to working this way. The color and texture provide a great jumping off point for something new, also a primed surface with a layer of dryed oil paint is a wonderful support, the new paint layer will retain the richness of the color not sinking in like a more porous surface would.
At first, starting the new painting can be a little confusing. Thinking of it as a mosaic, one patch at a time helps me until the new overtakes the old.
Working the simple to the complex, saving the head and face for last, since it will require the most accuracy. I’m using the placement of everything else to tell me the location of the head. After the head is established than the planes of the face, than the features, big shapes to small.
The planes of the face are laid in, always comparing. The angle of the chin compared to the shoulder, the center of the back compared with the back of the head, the forehead is a continuation of the upward sweep of the arm.
When everything was in it’s basic location, it was a good time to focus on the painting, forgetting about my reference image. Is this succeeding on it’s own merit? Are things moving in a comfortable way, balanced?
Something that bothered me was too many major shapes pointing upward to the right. Reworking the central diamond shape, pushing the right point downward might help.
This is so important to me, looking at the big picture, well rendered areas mean nothing if the whole is not balanced and flowing.
Pulling that central background shape downward was the adjustment I was after.