Finally getting rid of that dark background mess with my light background color. It's hard to see here, but it's a mix of unbleached titanium pale and titanium zinc white, a little burnt sienna and a little raw umber. It makes a sort of "white" -- but with a lot of depth.
Here [above], I'm working on my edges -- going back in with flesh tones over the wet background color, recreating a wet on wet look. This is where using some Walnut Alkyd and/or Liquin really helps blend in additional flesh work over the already dry paint. Plus it has the added benefit of adding some gloss to an area that could very well sink into the first layer of paint, hopefully avoiding dull spots further along. [For those that oil paint, you'll have experienced when a bottom layer of paint absorbs the oils of an upper layer, creating dull spots that make colors look kind of horrible, especially darks. It's easy to avoid by using a little medium, and just as easy to correct once the paint is dry by rubbing a little medium into any dull areas].
Once I'm done with my edges and things are looking less flat, I lay in the rest of the background [at left]. again, I'm trying to add some subtle color variations in the "white", and also use some loose brush strokes so things are a little more interesting than just a solid color. It's not coming through so great on these pictures, which either means I was a little too subtle, or paintings never look right when photographed. probably a little of both.
I usually wait until the background is dry to start on the hair, so that I can play around with detail and not lose any of it in wet paint...but I'm still trying to loosen up here, so I went right into it. I'm really happy with the result. Hair can be a huge pain and it's very easy to overdue, especially for me -- i'll zone out and catch myself two hours later trying to paint every individual strand. It took me a while to figure out that in reality, hair doesn't really look super detailed unless you're right up in it. from two feet away, it's the same as everything else: shapes...not solid lines -- so I've been trying to paint it accordingly. I worry about the detail where it is most obvious; the hairline and maybe some select highlights, then just improvise and loosely add in the rest. the hairline, or where the hair meets the dry paint of the face, can also be really tricky. I've gotten in the habit of stopping a little short of where the hairline should be on this initial pass, in order to use glazes (once things are dry) to move it into the right spot. the reason for this is that a lot of the hairline, especially when hair is pulled back, is made of little wispy hair that is super hard to paint -- it's much easier to suggest it with glazing.
phew, a lot of detail there. even more very soon.