I'm slowing down my pace to really finish this one. I'm still happy with the way it's going, but I'm at the point where the changes are subtle and so the advances seem minimal. This is a tough stage also because I can really mess it up my overworking it. That being said, considering the size and complexity of this painting, I'm proud of myself for accomplishing so much.
Now, a quick word about painting speed. My natural painting tempo is very fast and that has a number of benefits; it definitely helps when I'm on a commission schedule, but it also allows me to improve rapidly. I'm not saying that there's anything wrong if you're a slower painter, but your turnover won't be as good as mine. Everyone has their own tempo so you shouldn't feel pressured to go too fast or too slow. The key is going the right speed.
Painting also isn't always a linear course to completion. The best paintings can go backwards for days before hitting a breakthrough. I will say that your tempo shouldn't feel unnatural. The begin is often times fast, but the end is usually slow and painful. For me, I personally have a burst of energy at the beginning which tends to dissipate as I reach the end. And then there's always the problem of when is the painting finished?
I try to finish when I'm at 95%. I know it's tough to quantify it, but I always leave a little room so that I can go back if I want. Problems arise when you push, push, push and overwork it and can't get that spontaneity back. If you're painting an eye, it may be the best it can be after 10 minutes of work, but you can keep pushing and it'll all fall apart.
Never overwork and think about how you want the final image to feel.
Three days into this and I feel like it's already the best thing I've ever made. I went back to my old palette last night after having thought about the color scheme that I want. It needs a lot more refinement, but I like the feeling I have already. I'm really enjoying painting large and using big brushes.
I'm also not focusing on technique anymore, that is to say that I'm purely trying to 'make a good painting'. I think of it like cleaning up a room; there's no one right way to approach it as long as the room gets clean. You may have to know where certain things belong (the same with knowing your color palette and covering the canvas) but the end goal is the same.
You should never lose sight or feel like 'I have to do this first before I do that'. If you think that way, you will lose your end goal.
I don't have a title for this one yet, but it's going really well. I'm focusing on larger masses to create a harmony (with large brushes) before I focus in on the detail. I stress this point a lot because it's really easy to fall into the trap where you focus on detail. The detail will come out naturally, but you can't rush it.
I'm also realizing how far I've come in terms of my skill level. It's still really hard and a lot of work, but I feel like I have the patience and skill-set to actually make something good here.