I'm very proud of the progression of this portrait. It's not done yet, but it's getting close. I'll probably adjust the background a bit more and add some minor details only. My entire goal with this portrait was to capture the spirit of my girlfriend at this point in her life. I believe that's the highest function of art; to freeze a moment and feeling in time as effectively as I can as a painter.
I've always loved drawing and painting portraits and I also wanted to share some insight into the portrait painting process. To capture a portrait, it really comes down to very subtle proportions. You have to ask questions like: How big is the space between the eyes? how wide is the nose? how do the eyes crease with a smile? Etc. There's an endless amount of questions to ask and answer as you paint. Be as careful as you possibly can and never be afraid to adjust something if it doesn't feel right.
For skin tones, one of my tips is to avoid a lot of white. You can use white, but sparingly. White is a tricky pigment because you could easily bleach out the skin. You can use Naples yellow mixed into your white if you find your skin looking pale and chalky.
I love using backgrounds with portraits and if you choose a background with foliage, like in the portrait below, then remember to keep it more toned down than you think. You want the focus to be on the figure and the background to be an accent.
Hopefully those tips help anyone interested in portraiture. I'll be finishing this portrait soon so stay tuned..