Every couple of months, I like to give myself the task of painting a head completely from my imagination. As sort of a test of my current knowledge of proportion and structure. So a couple of days ago I completed this head study after warming up my imagination with some sketching in my journal. I feel good about the way it turned out so I made a small black frame for it with some iridescent gold to highlight it. It's a small study, 9" X 12", which allowed me to finish it in a single morning. By working from my head, it's not always easy to find specific features, but you can focus on capturing a sense of expression instead of making it look like a portrait of someone.
I used a fairly limited palette for this one. Silver White, Naples Yellow, Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna, Asphaltum and Cadmium Red Light. I may have dipped into my Cobalt or Viridian to cool down, but I don't really pay too much attention to my color mixing. Maybe it's because I'm colorblind, but I really try to focus on the value, instead of the color. This is also painted rather loosely into a contour outline and quickly modeled. I think the fresh quality is beautiful in a way that is different from a finished piece. The ground that I am working on is an oil ground that I prepared myself and tinted with Mars Brown and Ivory Black.
I used to study Vermeer quite a bit, and the more I studied him, the more I realized the power of his creativity--to make things more beautiful. "Tronies" are an interesting concept, they are the exaggeration of features and sort of the "idealized beauty." that comes to the artists mind. The artists asks "What is my ideal sense of proportion?" I think this has to do a lot of the style of each artist. To create his or her own canon of beauty.