This is a commissioned piece, 10"x12" full body portrait on an 18"x24" paper. The deadline was pretty tight and I had about 4 business days to do this upon the approval of the final sketch. There were plenty of pictures to choose from, which gave me some idea of how she carries herself, though most of them were too small to really work in the details. I was left with just these shots to work from:
Because I had to interpret the adjectives given to me, "energetic, active and flowing" the full body pose in this picture doesn't come across as so. I had to suggest poses and create them from the ground up. I also needed to find more references for this particular style of dress and man, a dress by any style is still a dress to me. Thank god for facebook, my fashionista friends helped me out in that department!
After the approved pose, I needed to make sure that the body would have the same lighting as the face in the picture above. I sought the help of my partner, Jet, to pose for me and to bring whatever accessories she might have that resembles the ones I needed. She came pronto and I couldn't thank her enough for that. I still owe her lunch!
The hem of the dress was something I needed to pay close attention to, to simulate a flowing pattern. The dress she had on was garterized, so it pretty much closed up at the bottom. Good thing Jet brought another skirt! Talk about foresight!
I used two fans to blow the skirt to see the natural fluid motion of wind on skirt since what I had in my final sketch didn't look right to me.
I also needed to take more references for the finger positions, hands, arms, assets, shoes with the same lighting to keep it consistent with the entire piece. Upon reviewing all the pictures sent, I noticed I had not worked in the beads and the watch. I had to borrow more girly stuff from my aunt who provided the extra accessories!
After taking all the references I needed, that was the only time I really started to work on the actual portrait. I do not copy what I see, but try to simplify and then add my own interpretation to it. If I could x-ray my head while doing the piece, I'd probably see lots of areas lit up since every stage of the portrait entails a lot of decision making such as darkening the shoes instead of keeping it light as how it appears in the picture, size relationships between parts, consistency of volume and length for all the arms and hands, values, etc.
Finally, when I felt that the piece was ready for the final touches, I added the details in such as fly away strands, the pattern on her blue dress which I thought would bring more life into an otherwise plain garb and the slight twinkle in her eyes.
This was a really challenging piece to do but I had the opportunity to channel my inner Rockwell, to not limit myself and recreate everything from scratch. I was sleep-deprived the entire week but I think it turned out quite well given the complexity of the concept, the deadline and the support from everyone who pitched in on this project!