Even before I got to this point I did a value sketch on paper to map
out the pattern of light and dark. I also experimented with various
compositional possibilities. I felt this one had the most variety in the
I drew this with vine charcoal on a wood panel that was primed with
two coats of gesso and one coat of white lead. Having the head touch the top gave the image a more intimate feel as well as dividing the upper space nicely. My goal was accurate placement of big areas. This stage may take hours until I have established a good sense of rhythm moving through all areas.
I knew I wanted the effect of a warm glow so I put an underpainting wash of raw sienna over the general area I would be working in. The darks were keep warm (brown) and transparent. I won’t usually use blues and purples in large dark areas because they cause the appearance of sinking. I lay in the hair thickly with a palette
knife. I am keying this painting very different from the photo I am working with, everything is pushed toward warm.
Since I am holding back the color intensity it is easy to make a dull green, (ivory black and cadmium lemon) appear bright in contrast. The goal is to hold to a very few color mixtures and keep repeating them for harmony. At this stage the “world” of the painting has been established, so I continue to work through the areas, keeping an eye on the flow of one shape to the next.
I always try to be open to making adjustments to the original
drawing based on what the painting needs at a certain point.
The hand holding the apple I made longer as well as the
supporting arm. This painting will also need a coat of varnish to
bring the life back to the dark areas.