I've been focusing a lot recently on the physical application of paint. Avoiding thinking about what colors I'm using or the specific medium. I use a pretty standard academic palette, but I don't pay attention to anything other than the value of my palette. Light to dark arrangement is my main focus. But anyway, I've been thinking of the way that I apply paint because I think that is one main area of importance. So to think of paint as rubbed in pastel instead of a loose watercolor wash has helped me to create the layered illusion of skin that I have been striving for. Having a good oil ground really facilitates this rubbing (frottis) techniques immensely. I left some touch of the mark in the lower right of this head study that I've worked on. This technique also takes a varnish very well to create a nice academic surface. This rubbed ebauche' underpainting is a very forgiving beginning to any type of painting. It works well to leave the dither of the brush in the landscape or in some areas of the figure. It's good to study palettes and mediums (I have studied and tried many variations) but a really good surface and the physical application of paint are crucial.