There are two separate techniques I might choose to employ when doing portraiture. However, both begin in the same manner. I work primarily from photographs, either taken by me or provided by the client themselves. Once contacted by a client I meet with them either in person or by phone to discuss in detail their desired commission. We talk about size, shape, the number of subjects and their personalities, as well as the room the portrait will end up in (so that I might factor in the color and texture of that space). We then discuss budget, as it will help to determine which of the two painting techniques I will use.
TRADITIONAL METHOD 1: Once we have agreed upon the photo/s to be used, I work in Photoshop to finesse my final composition which I then run by the client before I begin. The portrait is done in 3 stages. At the end of each step I can stop with a viable portrait be it a drawing/ drawing w/wash/ drawing w/wash & full color.
Stage 1: Is a fully rendered drawing on canvas. Being the ‘bones’ of the portrait, this takes the longest to create. *I seal it with workable fixative and then apply a coat of gel medium over the surface to create depth and texture, using brush strokes that reinforce the direction of the drawing’s elements.
Stage 2: Since my drawing is sealed I can now apply a layer of thinned oil wash which I wipe away working ‘maniere noire’ to reinforce the original art.
Stage 3: In this final stage I introduce full oil (and sometimes acrylic) color, at times applied as a wash so that the earlier artwork shines through, while at other times introducing more opaque textures. I then seal with varnish.
PHOTO TRANSFER METHOD 2: This technique is used when my client has a tight budget or time constraint. I simply eliminate the drawing stage! Working from agreed upon source, I print a mirror image of the subject and hand transfer it to a canvas panel. I cover the panel with gel medium, placing photo face down, then I burnish like crazy so that the texture of the canvas becomes visible. Last, I dampen then peel and gently rub away pulp revealing the right reading image. *From that point on I follow all the steps above starting from the completion of the rendered drawing on canvas (no workable fixative required).