I always get excited to procure a new group of photo references. A generous friend with an antique/gift shop in downtown Scottsdale agreed to lend me her store as a backdrop. I found a lovely model and the rest was magic.
Even though the store is in a commercial setting, the landscaped front with paths, trees and bushes lent theirselves to a wooded scene.
The first step is always a small sketch. The goals are
- To “get to know” the subject. Find out where might I have some trouble, where might I simplify? (Pay attention to the angle on the face, and the upper body twist to the lower body)
- To figure out the simple three value, pattern, in order to lead the eye (use the bits of light on her and the foliage to lead the eye)
- To find out what I want to emphasize (her head and hands)
Next the small color study. I’ve heard people say “why do a small version of the painting, just to do it again larger”.
My answer is, it’s a way to experiment with some color directions that are not necessarily in the original image, but could be more exciting. I much rather “play” on a 4″x6″ piece of canvas than try something on the 12″x 22″ only to scrape it off when it doesn’t look right.
This little sketch has answered some questions for me;
Will a warm underpainting benefit this image (yes)
How can I organize the image into warm against cool? There is lots of room for fine-tuning and what I like to call “color runs”. A color run is a transition of colors of the same value but different hues, like in her shirt, going from warm blues to cool blues to pinks and violets.
You can see how the colors got more complex in the final version. The skirt for example ended up with many more color notes as did the foreground foliage. The small color sketch just gave me a jumping off point.