Folks often wonder what the portrait process entails. Each stage is quite exciting and may include: 1) an initial concept meeting and site visits to determine portrait setting, pose and attire; 2) painting or drawing a preparatory head study from life; 3) creating a small, preliminary oil study that represents the final portrait composition; 4) live on-site painting sittings between the artist and sitter, and 5) subsequent work back in the studio to arrive at the finished portrait.
Today I'm sharing the preliminary oil study for my Dr. Arthur Kleinman portrait for Harvard University. This 4.5 x 6" oil on linen panel study is a mini, semi-posterized version of the final portrait. Detail is intentionally omitted in favor of simple, flat, abstracted shapes. This method emphasizes the light-effect and greater painting concept as a whole. I present these oil studies to the client to convey my vision of the final portrait, so they know what to expect in the larger canvas. Later, when working on the larger portrait in the studio, I frequently reference the oil study to check that my new color-values don't stray beyond those of the original vision.