Preparing for the FaceOff Event

20140805 sketch-portraits-mosiac

{14 of the 16 completed portrait oil sketches}

Preparing for the FaceOff event was a real stretch for me. I had not focused on portraiture for well over three years, so when I agreed to participate in the event, I immediately hit up friends to sit for me.

I scheduled as many 2-hour portrait sessions as I could. My goal was to cut my time down by half of the three hours allotted during the actual event, only once was I able to complete the sketch in 1-1/2 hours. However setting my practice time limit to 2 hours maximum was helpful in that I forced me to paint quickly and to always strive to be efficient with the time I had.

My first two painting sessions did not go well and were scraped down, but after that I started to fall into a good pattern. I began to remember how to paint a portrait, and when I did not have anyone to sit for me, I would still practice painting facial features and heads. Overall, the more I practiced, the more things began to fall into place.

In preparation for the event, 16 individuals posed for me, for a total of 18 2-hour portrait sessions. With each session, I would try to improve my speed and technique. And a funny thing I experienced was that it was during my 13th portrait session when I made a major breakthrough with my process. Prior to this session, I had been struggling with my desire to draft everything out and paint around my drawing and my desire to lay in the big shapes of color and value that carried the overall foundation of the facial structure. I cannot place my finger on what I specifically changed in my process, I just know that it did change and all of the sudden painting in the detailed areas became easier.

So if you are also facing a particularly challenging area in your paintings, I encourage you to keep at it, practice often, everyday if you can, and just try a bunch of different things each time until something works. Then try it again, see where you can improve upon it, and do so.

What I learned most from the preparation for this event is that practice really makes a difference, but things really began to take off when I was able to schedule several days of portrait sessions in a row. Each session became better, because I would apply what I had learned from the prior session, I would know what to look out for and how to prevent the mistakes from the day before.

I want to thank everyone who helped me during this intense period, for sitting for me, for supporting me, and for overall just being there.

Thank you!