This was nearly the painting that changed everything. Nearly.

Painted in the spring of 2015, it’s one step away from the painting that changed my approach to portraits. It’s a crucial step and worth visiting. Unfortunately the photos aren’t great. Not sure what was going on with my phone camera, but it was picking up the overhead lights and adding a soft blur to everything.

I use my camera a lot while I paint. It has harsh eyes and lets me see where things aren’t working. It’s unforgiving but never cruel, and has become an essential tool. Sure I post as I go, but I use the photos first to adjust my direction with colour and design.

Did you know that Leonardo Da Vinci did the same thing?

Not with a camera but with a mirror. Again, unforgiving and yet a mirror changes the view enough to allow an artist to see where things are going wrong. That was one of my tools in the days where taking a photo meant film, processing and at least a week’s wait.

I believe this was my first portrait using the black canvas that I now use for everything. I know that when I used to chalk on my drawings, I always used fixative to keep the chalk in place. On black canvas, fixative makes the chalk disappear as it dries.

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I reached the above point of the second photo and could no longer see my drawing. It caused a few moments of panic because an accurate drawing is the most important part of a portrait. Fuck it up, and you might as well stop painting.

Feedback was awesome though. Everyone told me to stop where I was since the intensity of the eyes was gripping. And I did stop. But only for a few days. This painting really felt like it could be something and I needed to finish it. So I held me breath and chalked on a new drawing. No fixative this time.

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The reality was, many of the important parts of the drawing were in place so it was a matter of filling in the blanks.  This time I worked with a red and brown base. Something I don’t do now.  I add the red in at a later stage and work with a naples yellow and burnt umber base.

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This was one of my more intense paintings since Sherlock was staring directly in my eyes for the entire time. Eye contact isn’t always easy, for me it’s something I learned to do since I was averse to it growing up. It was surreal, uncomfortable and ultimately rewarding to make fake eye contact for hours to get this painting done.

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At this stage, this is where my phone came in handy. You’ll notice that there’s a lot of refining of the shadows. Playing with adding lights in and making sure there are no flat colours until I got to the point where I was happy with things.

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And finally, the end was in sight. Lots of push and pull with flesh tones and shadows. Then I got to play with frames because this one is hanging on my gallery wall in my house. At least until it sells.

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“Sherlock”

20″ x 16″

Acrylic on canvas

Want prints or the original? Hop on over to my store or contact me directly. I love it when my art finds a good home.

I’m currently in the midst of a 30 Paintings, 30 Days challenge! Follow along on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr to see the action as it happens. Want more info? You can check out the challenge here.