Back in July when I should have been practicing dog portraits I did this sketch messing around with the media I wanted to take to Paws on Grand.
I'd taken a break to watch TV. I turned it on in the middle of a show about 19th century cops. ("Copper"—though fans probably wouldn't recognize the actor from this sketch, I haven't got his forehead high enough. I watched the first season of this show, but didn't realize it had come back. It sort of melds in my brain with Ripper Street though they are set in different countries. Let's face it. It's all that I can do to keep up with my "Perry Mason" viewing.)
This actor caught my eye. I wanted to capture both his features and the nifty collar treatment, but frankly once I got started I lost interest in the collar.
I did a quick sketch of the shapes using and orange Stabilo All. then I started painting with Schmincke gouache. There is no black in this photo. I mixed blues and oranges and sometimes whatever else seemed to work, to get the darkest darks here. I was going through a purple phase.
I worked with a 3/4 inch filbert and a size 14 round, but mostly with the filbert.
At some point after the initial washes of color I drew in the outline with a fine (not extra fine) Montana Marker filled with Shock Pink—just 'cause, that's what I'd been playing around with a lot lately—remember in April I discovered I loved Pink!
Then I added the more opaque layers of gouache, some of which went on dry brush so you see some of the paper's texture. (See the left side of the full image near the ear, and the right side of the image at the bottom of the light cheek area [also visible in the detail shot.])
One of my favorite bits is the way the lighter gouache added at the throat bled up into the darker washes of his beard.
I didn't have any clean, fresh titanium white placed out on my palette, so I just lightened my purples with a pile of hard and slightly dirty white. The bright white visible in a couple places is the paper color.
While this isn't an accurate portrait of the actor, Ato Essandoh, I think what's fun about gouache is you can have a really inaccurate drawing (which I did) and finesse it into something that looks better. And if you really want to put the time in you can correct it all the way into a good likeness.
Besides having a short attention span for collars, however, I am not immune from becoming partial to some of my brush strokes. I got to the point where I would have to really dig in and refine (and redefine) some shapes.
I make myself do that all the time. I think that's how you learn—both how to capture something you're after, and how to fix something you've lost.
But on this night I gave myself a pass. It was late, I was tired. I didn't want to put an hour into this when I could be sleeping and then riding my bike in the cool air of morning.
So I stopped. I still think I made the right decision. It's fun seeing all those strokes, and remembering the decisions I made to place them there.