I'm starting to paint "form" into the black vest. I usually deal with black by glazing color over the flat black acrylic paint to give it a jewel tone.
When that is dry I add a thin glaze of ivory black and use raw sienna to build light.
Inside the general light on the jacket, I begin to build more form. The narrow range of values are subtle and no dark inside the light is as dark as anyplace in the general shadow area.
Light is lighter and warmer (I add yellow ochre pale + titanium white to the red jacket color).
Adding form to the jacket's general shadow area - narrow range of values with nothing as light in value as what is found in the general light.
I'm beginning to build form in the skirt by establishing how the general light meets the general shadow. It can meet very quickly....or very slowly. The definition of this is the foundation of painting form.
I'm working the entire background as I build the form of the figure. I like to add touches of the colors from my foreground into the background.
Added details into the skirt. I'm still not adding dark into this painting - I'm just painting with light and the darks suddenly begin to appear "darker."
This layer can be scary because it looks so radical...but it basically what gives the skin its luminosity. Some people start with it but I wait until the surrounding areas are well established before I use any white paint.
I usually save the face until last because the skin tones are determined by what surrounds it.
First, I draw the face in with raw umber and let it dry. Then I begin to use pure zinc white - straight from the tube and build form. Later I begin to use the more opaque titanium white paint.
I don't usually paint over a color (as in the hair) but I realized that I needed to build the light on the face and hair all together.
The face underpainting is finished. It make several days and is a very slow process. It takes as long as it takes. It is necessary to get a likeness starting now.
Here are the finished hands. I always underpaint any skin that shows.
I think that this stage looks scary. It throws all the colors and values off and suddenly the painting looks dark and dreary.
But take heart, it is only a temporary condition.
Next step - glaze.
This is the time to really nail the likeness. Sometimes I tape my reference photo next to the area I'm painting.
However, you must be careful with tape on the surface of the painting. The surface must be dry. I stick the tape to material first before resticking it to the canvas in order to reduce the adhesion. I do not leave tape sticking to the surface of a painting when I leave the easel.
I begin by adding a glaze. I use raw umber, raw sienna, and burnt umber either alone or in combination - however I can to begin to create the sitter's skin tone. I may use a thin glaze of raw umber to draw details (like eyelids) and enhance the form (above).
I glaze in the skintones very slowly and thinly. I let each layer dry before beginning the next.
I brush color into the cheeks and begin to define eye and hair color.
Note that if this was a woman of color I would begin with a darker value of skintone in the underpainting - the rest is exactly the same.
I am adding color slowly in layers of glazes. Then I am painting tiny bits of Titanium White + Yellow Ochre Pale into the wet glazes to build light.
Light is thick and opaque.
Shadow is thin and transparent.
I am mindful of the Old Master's technique of color banding:
Yellow Ochre Pale is added to the forehead.
Reds (Indian Red and/or Alizarin Crimson Permanent) are added to the area from the eyebrow line to the chin.
A cool blue (French Ultramarine) is added to the neck and chest.
If you mix these up - the face will look really odd; i.e., red on the forehead will make the face look ill - like a boiled lobster.
A glaze is a lot of medium (I use Liquin) with a little bit of transparent color. It will look a lot like pale stained glass.
Sometimes I scumble a color on the face to even out the tones and add luminosity. A scumble is a whole lot of medium (Liquin) with a little bit of opaque color (like Titanium White). It often looks like watered down milk.
After the underpainting in white, all of my layers are transparent or translucent. I already had a likeness so I didn't want to lose it.
As I am doing the final glazes and scumbles on the face and hands, I am glazing other colors in the painting to enrich the colors.
Note that because of my earth palette, I don't use the color "blue." Instead I use Ivory Black + Titanium White to make the color blue. If at the end I want to intensify that color I can add a blue glaze if necessary.