I have been working on the last part of the family portrait suite. I started by covering the entire surface with black, which created a very nice structure. Then I spontaneously struggled to find the face. It is like learning to see – by going back and forth I am slowly becoming aware of the characteristics of the face. The first layer was done in light grey, diluted with a lot of oil.
The plan was to add several thin layers and keep searching for the face. In the process I have only made a few meassurements to check the position of the eyes, the nostrils, and the mouth.
After letting the paint dry, I continued with more white, and a touch of light red, adding a bit of black in the dark parts. I worked quickly and without thinking too much, moving about in a pretty irrational way – a little here, a little there.
Suddenly I felt there was a quality of the work that I did not want to eliminate by working too much, so I decided to take a break and check with the family how they felt about the piece. I was a bit nervous as I was wondering if they would think the painting was too rough and not exact.
On the contrary, they felt I had been able to capture his attitude and they could immediately see their son in the work. Needless to say, I was quite pleased.