As the painting nears completion, I like to do a value check to make sure the values help to support the subject of the portrait.
Luckily, this step is made insanely easy by modern technology. Any iphone or Mac can easily turn a photo into a black and white image so you can check your value.
Once everything is set into place as fair of the larger planes, the success of the painting depends upon the slight adjustments. Which is why checking the value is so important.
I consider myself actually lucky to be colorblind because my world is faded, so I follow value more naturally. of course, it's a double-edged sword because I need pay really close attention to my color palette.
After I have pulled my hair out, searching for a composition, I generally reach a level of comfort while I paint. Luckily, this commission reached that point earlier than others. Maybe it's because the composition came easier, but whatever the reason is, now I've reached the point at which it becomes fun.
This is also where the painting becomes very fragile and easily overworked. So it's a make or break period. The groundwork has been done and now the details feed into the larger planes.
I keep in mind a quote from my hero, Bouguereau:
"the subtlety of accents, in contrast with large planes, is what makes a drawing great. This truth, which I have yearned all my life to express and which still drives me on, is the secret of art. It applies to composition as well as to drawing proper. It is the principle that must guide both the young beginner and the fully developed artist."
I was going to wait to post progress shots, but I'm actually very pleased with the way the first day went. The composition came easier than most, which is why I was able to start painting so quickly. Usually, I will spend 3-5 days composing the image before even beginning, but this one was quick. If only I could figure out why some come easier, maybe one day...