Progression that Led to the Final Product

1.  I begin by capturing the gesture. One of the biggest epiphanies I had from my study of acting is how much acting is done with the spine; in live theatre the subtle facial expressions are virtually invisible to those in the nosebleed seats. I found masked theatre fascinating. Like masked theatre, I seek to keep the facial expression a subtle mask, while the bulk of the expression is in the curve of the spine and tilt of the head.
2. Bernini said that the moment a person is about to speak the face is at its most animated. As a Bernini fanboy, I attempt to explore this moment as well.
3. Through the gesture and composition I seek to give the picture unity,. In this portrait I wanted a curved cross, as well as a curved triangular composition that gives the composition strength, yet move like a flickering flame. In addition, I unite the various elements by emphasizing lines of harmony.
4. I then divide the composition into a light/dark pattern upon the skeleton of the gesture. With the light dark pattern I am looking for the likeness as well as further developing the composition.
5. The piece is then further modeled. I seek to flatten the modeling of the shadows, while I emphasize the modeling in the light areas by hatching in the direction of the form. I also utilize the hatching to further define the underlying anatomy., especially the skull
6. The background is initially hatched in the direction of the lightt, so as not to distract the eye. It is then stumped away, though some of the initial hatching remains. The purpose of the background is to be relatively forgetable atmosphere; that is the definition of the world “background”
7. Edge control is among my most important compositional concerns throughout the drawing process. I keep most of my edges soft, hardening only those edges I want the eye to be drawn to. Background edges are blurred and hair edges range from soft to smokey. The edge of the cast shadow on the neck and the edge of the clothes are renderd more steplike; I observed this solution in the work of Rembrandt, where he uses a stepped edge to soften what should be a hard edge, but does not really deserve to be a soft edge.

All this is then repeated until successful completion of the drawing.