Here’s the progression for Fox Girl, finished in January 2015. Images are taken at different times of the day, resulting in slightly different colors. My apologies. The unframed image is 12″x16″.
(Click on any image for a larger view).
I decided I wanted to get more into the habit of painting faces. Faces are incredibly difficult to 1. paint at all, and 2. replicate consistently. I have shied away from them my whole life because of this and so figured it was time to address this.
I got the idea for a girl in the woods wearing a fox hat. You know, one that’s actually made of a skinned fox. “I can do this well. It won’t be creepy,” I said to myself. And so I sketched the girl with a hat on my canvas (figure 2). I thought at this point that she might be holding an animal. Not a fox, of course, because that would be weird.
I began to paint. And man, I almost gave up. This little girl was looking like a haggard 30 year old for a while. I didn’t take any pictures of that because it was that terrible. I’m telling you, faces are difficult and I was near despair with the results. But I kept after it and slowly she began to look young (figure 3). I also painted her hat and began to think that I might not be able to pull off the skinned fox hat without it being too creepy. Also, I didn’t really have room for the animal so I jettisoned that idea.
I kept working on her face and decided to add a few freckles. Then I painted out the eyes and nose on her hat and tried to make it more playful. I also thought it would be cool to add some strings on sides of her hat. I roughed in a bit more of her hair and coat and buttons (figure 4).
Here’s a close-up of the furriness of her hat (figure 5). I found that mixing blue into the white lining of the hat worked really well.
I then began to block in the trees and snow in the background. My goal at this point was to remove all of the black from the canvas to get a sense of what the final piece was going to look like (figure 6).
I noticed her coat didn’t look right so I repainted it and angled it a bit more to the side, to show that she’s turning to her right. The buttons moved and the everything shifted over (figure 7).
I love details and had fun painting in the buttons. Here’s a close-up. I think they’re brass (figure 8). The glare of the sunlight washed out the blueness of her coat.
I added a sweater and then finished the hair. I also decided to have just one hat string visible and thought it would be nice to make it a little fox tail (figure 9). After that I cleaned up the trees a bit, reworked some snow in the lower right and it was done!