Things started well. I began by painting the darker areas using Sepia and Chrome Green to give some variation and depth, suggesting shadows where one figure overlapped the other as well as the facial ones already indicated. A few marks represented folds in clothing, etc. By working over the whole painting in this way, I am able to maintain the integrity of a joint portrait. I was enjoying the process and happy with the result.
The next visit was a mistake – hurried and thoughtless, more interested in moving the painting on than in doing so successfully! and this is the result. I could have wept. They look as if they have a serious skin complaint! On the up side, his jacket looks the right colour, and I haven’t obliterated all the careful drawing, but that was a definite lesson in not trying to hurry because there is only a short time available at this moment. Better to leave it and tackle it when things are more serene. So that is what I did – and was rewarded by an altogether kinder painting.
I started by painting the background, partly to paint myself in and partly to reduce the amount of white canvas glaring at me. I may have used too bright a colour, but I can adjust that in time, and it does the job right now. The painting looks better even without working on the faces, so it has encouraged me to continue. Indeed, I rarely bin anything until it’s finished – sometimes you can surprise yourself!
Then I tried again on the faces and hair. I feel much happier now. They are still a bit spotty but altogether warmer, more friendly. The shading is better balanced and the eyes of both are good for this stage. Her nose is twisted! and both mouths sulky, so more work there. Her muted green dress fits the colour scheme, his shirt less inclined to dominate the picture. Progress.