When painting a landscape, who would ever know if a tree looks "right"? My point being, the other genres are, in most cases, more forgiving and plastic. Portraiture on the other hand must exhibit a certain precision, finesse and a convincing "realism" that cannot be faked or fudged.
Now, I'm referring to the realistic portrait here. I make it a point to push beyond mere realism to drill into the "feeling" or "spirit" of the model. For me, while it is challenging to evoke the physical resemblance of my model, it is even more so to tease out the personality...so that when you enter a room with the painting, there is a sense of the person there with you.
I decided to post some of the pivotal steps that were taken to create this portrait, but by no means the fourteen or so distinct steps aka "glazes" that I would usually paint.
Instead of presenting what could be perceived as a "how-to" guide to portrait painting, with this post I will plunge ahead with highlights, both to save myself time and also, to alleviate the delayed gratification that comes along with too much information.
I was assured by the subject that she was very pleased, excited in fact, with the work-in-progress. I appreciated this, as it is not always easy to tell, from my somewhat myopic view of the canvas on my easel, how it really looked.
The above photo shows the portrait very close to completion. I instinctively feel that it still needs to be pushed, pulled and massaged a bit more before I will be completely satisfied. In this case, I was asked to include the subject's "spirit animals", her astrological sign and an amethyst element. You can see these aspects coming out of the dark spaces, invented and incorporated into the overall composition.
This is a portrait-painting encounter of the fourth kind...working and re-working the paints to elicit the old soul of my dear friend...who self-identifies as a Wicca Spirit and is a practicing white witch and light-worker. It was the least I could do, after our magical healing sessions. I still tingle just thinking about it.