Ha ha, Just kidding! My recent post of the "finished" commission was about two more full days and a lot of erasing away from being finished. My client was happy with first edition, but not completely. She asked me to make the bangs more "blonde" and soften the bags under the eyes. And if I didn't mention it before, she asked me to change her teeth a bit from the photograph. She never liked them. So this is what doing commissions is all about! And this is why contracts are a good idea. Changes take time. In this case though, I couldn't charge her for my extra efforts. The changes were too subtle. And the teeth were part of the initial agreement. Unfortunately, working this small, forced me to erase back almost all of the cheeks and face in order to lighten the bangs and find the correct over all values. Once completed, this little graphite drawing took as much time and effort as a full color 8x10"! It was very difficult, but worth the tricks learned. At one point I was terrified that I would have to start all over again. But, the Fabiano Artistico 150 wt Hot Pressed paper, which was recommended by an amazing artist friend of mine Alan Woollett, turned out to be quite forgiving. So here is the really, not kidding, for sure, finished 7.5x 8.5 graphite commission of a small girl.
This little portrait (7 x 8.5") was created from a 3.5 x 5" vintage photo. I don't normally consent to doing such a small human portrait, especially from a client provided reference. I prefer to photograph the subject myself. It allows me to see the subject clearer. What is her attitude about things? Does she have a sense of humor? From the many photos I take, I will be able to make compositional choices that allow me to say something specific about the subject. With one client reference I have nothing but a 2 dimensional image. There is no way to know the subject. Hence I meticulously copy, as best I can, the photo. This kind of interpretation leaves very little, if any room for creativity. I depend on the medium and the character of my technique to make the difference. Though, I carefully warn the client that to work this small makes it difficult to nail likeness, that all it takes is one tick of the pencil to completely change an expression, does she hear me? Once the piece is finished and a photo sent off for approval, I sweat it out. Did I communicate well; did I capture whatever it is the client sees as likeness or will I have to start over again? Weighing challenge against risk, did I quote the proper price? One could say, that each time I do a commissioned piece I learn something new. That is invaluable right? I've been doing portraits for 15 years. It should be effortless by now, (smiley face with tongue in cheek and wink.) Good thing I have another commission to get to!