I am focusing on painting the head for this month. I want to try and cover as many face types as I can, old, young, male, female etc. This is the study I did today and how I went about it.
First I look at the face to decide what the general skin tone is. Is it a orange/peach tone or pink or maybe gold, also could be more violet. Her tone was a warm gold made up of Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Red Medium and white. With a palette knife a mix is made than loosely brushed over the surface with no regard for the specific face.
This are several benefits to starting this way. The first one is to get rid of the white canvas and initiate the surface. It's always daunting to stare at a blank white canvas. The second is to tone the white down so that the other values can be judged more accurately. Another is this creates a surface with a little slickness that will help the paint to move easier. At this point I took a paper towel and wiped most of the paint layer off so that it wouldn't be too slick to work on. It now looks like the image below.
I am using Raw Sienna and a #1 soft hair filbert to draw in the structure. Continuing the drawing looking for the placement of the cheekbones, shape of the chin, how the hair sits on the head, thinking of all the hair as one mass, one shape. The head is slightly angled down as well as to the left. These subtle things are very important to getting things to look "right".
This face does not have a strong light and shadow effect on it which means I have to look more carefully to see where the modeling in the forms happen. The sides of the face turn backward toward the side of the head, the nose turns downward on the sides as it turns into the cheek etc. I want to go as far as I can without putting in actual features. This is almost like carving the face out of stone, but using paint instead. I'm adding some Cadmium Red light with white to the cheeks, more Yellow Ochre with a little Viridian Green to the contours on nose and under eyes. the hair is Burnt Sienna, Terra Rosa and Burnt Umber.
This is the time to slow down and start refining the transitions between things.
Also soften the color and always keep making corrections in the drawing. Getting more specific with the features I start shaping the eyes and mass in some color to the mouth with more Cadmium Red and white.
Getting closer to finish, it's just a matter of breaking the larger shapes into smaller ones until you have gone far enough. There is way more in real life than you would ever want to put into a painting. At some point it gets boring and the freshness is gone if detail is taken too far. It's up to you to use your judgement concerning how far is enough.
Here's where I felt I said all that I wanted to say about this image.