Anatomy of a Portrait

So those who have been wondering why I've fallen off the face of the earth, well in blog world at least, it is because I actually got a portrait commission. Yeah, I took the plunge and began, as least a little bit, showing some of my work around. So I thought I'd give you a peek into my lil drawing world. The first picture is my prep work. For me, this is where I spend a couple of hours making sure everything is proportioned right. Some artists can do this in minutes, for me, because I'm a realist and like things exact, I spend much more time with it. I do not use a projector, which could make things easier I'm sure, but give me a good rainy day and I get lost in my world.

Having done the prep work, and my outline work, it is now time to get the detail, and for me, remove as many "lines" as possible and let the shading do the boundry work. John's face took me about 5 hours alone to do. This is with breaks, getting up looking and getting different perspecitives, but again, I'm a realist. I'm not looking for sketch quality, I'm looking for a 3D quality where the face actually projects off the page. It can be rather tedious to some, but when you get to the end and look at it, well, the work is worth it.

Now I've begun Diane. The hard part with Diane was not her face, it was very well defined, it was the hair. With the hair in the picture not being very well defined, I had to shade it to the best of what I could. What I didn't realize is there were highlights in the hair, and when John saw the drawing he asked how I knew their were highlights! God, John, all God. As this point I'd put about 4 to 5 hours in her face and hair.

And then the finished product, well sort of. After this was taken I would go back and look, change a shade here, darken this here. I had to get it out of my studio before I just kept working and working! Being a realist and a recovering perfectionist, I have to realize when it is time to stop. I can see where I need to improve on something, change this or that. But in the end, it is what the customer thinks. So what did John think? He loved it. He was amazed. He'd gotten this as a surprise to his wife for their anniversary, which is today. So Monday I get to hear how she reacted. I made the most off this portrait than I have any drawing I've ever done. I almost let it go cheaply, but Ginger, my lovely wife, was adamant I not go low. Your work is worth it, she said, it is one of a kind and you have a gift. Well, happy to say when I gave him the price he was all too happy to pay and I was a couple of hundred dollars richer. Gotta get that confidence up and this helped.

So now I'm excited and looking for my next commission. This is pretty fun...

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