Working from a loose impression to measured marks

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There are many ways to start a painting, from drawing in charcoal or pencil to loose impressions with a feel for the volume shape of the main subject in the painting.

A loose impression followed by considered & measured marks can produce fantastic results!

This method was used in my painting of John Napier, theatre & costume designer.

I started with a mix of five colours with a lot of linseed added to the oils to allow for fast application.

The process of the first stage took minutes and the oil ran down the canvas in quite alarming way.

Putting in the measured marks

The nose is a great starting point for finding reference points. I put in marks for the nostrils, nostril edges followed by eye lashes and rims for the glasses. The mouth corners were put in relating to the marks above.

Blocking in marks to show chin and jaw line plus the top of the jumper & neck

Hair, chin, neck and top of jumper are all indicated simply with rapid brush strokes.

Finishing with more detail in the hair and an indication of an arm on the right

To balance the composition and finish, darker strokes were added to the hair to give more contrast & direction. Amazingly just three lines and a mark suggested an arm giving a feeling of John relaxing into the sofa.

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