Above is a study I did of an Abbott Thayer painting that Kim Kincaid had posted on her blog. On a purely visual level there is much to love of Abbott's piece: the wonderful edge work, subtle gradation of values across the cheek to socket and nose (due to occlusion) and the warmth of the over all piece. As well, I believe it has a lot of story to it. It is idealized some but still has an everydayness to it. Great model and gesture. I think she conveys a duality. First is that of insecurity, with the tilt down of her head and eyes peeking up, almost as if she's having a private meeting under her hat while watching what is happening, preparing herself for whatever she's about to do. Second there is a resolution and quiet determination to her. She's facing forward. She's going to do it.
I think duality--or inner conflict--is the essence of interesting character in any media. At least it's a powerful tool.
I didn't do the color, but instead focused on values and edges.
Just experiments in technique. Did this in Photoshop.
When working from my imagination, I usually start in black and white and then work into color. This time I got brave and I went straight for the color. I started off by drawing the profile with the lasso tool(a mask would be better, I was being a bit lazy.) I used the round soft brush to block in the colors focusing on making the form turn and thinking about how the color temperature and value would be shifting as the form turned, just as if I were drawing a fleshy sphere. I stuck with just the skin color, and I kept the brush as large as I could for as long as I could. This had two benefits. The first is that the edges and colors blended automatically, and second, I didn't get lost in details as soon as I might otherwise, which helped to keep the value masses simple.
After that, I used a rake-like brush and captured oil strokes to define the plains of the face and get sharp edges and a traditional feel.