Rescued at the Last Minute: Portrait in Progress

Do you remember that scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail when Prince Herbert, suspected dead from a long fall, proceeds to sing about how he was rescued at the minute? That's kinda how I felt about this portrait that I worked on at Atwood Atelier on Monday evening.

Okay, that might be a *bit* melodramatic. But after nearly 3 hours of working from a model and trying to get it right, it was clear that *something* was off. And I couldn't figure out how to fix it. It was almost time for me to leave, and I was ready to throw my hands up in frustration. But at the last minute, I checked a measurement I hadn't checked before, and discovered the solution. Rescued!

The piece started off well enough. I was pretty happy with the initial composition and block-in. I was also using a new brand of sanded paper--LaCarte, rather than my typical UArt or Art Spectrum--and was really impressed with it.

As I continued working, it became clear that some of the facial features were not quite right. To be honest, I often have difficulty getting things right in portraits that are angled somewhere between a three-quarter view and a near-profile like this.

Nothing was clicking, and it was about time for me to pack up the pastels and head home. I decided to check a couple of measurements one last time. Lo and behold, I discovered that the forehead should be lined up with the lips. I had the forehead sinking back, and in trying to keep the eye in proportion, inadvertently made it too small. Once I corrected the forehead, I was able to correct the eye as well. Eureka!

That change made all the difference in capturing the model's likeness.

There are still some things I would change if I were to work on this again. For example, I think that as I added more color, I inadvertently darkened things too much and lost some of the cohesiveness of the initial block-in. I'm also not sure about that dark blue background. But there are some things I definitely got right--and most important, I learned something that I can apply to further drawings. And isn't that what it's really all about?