1. The reference:
I found this cute still of Felicity, which was different from the typical shot of her on the posters or in the doorway, fussing at the boys. Her expression is so sweet and open, and it's a great, detailed head-and-shoulders composition, perfect for a portrait!
2. The sketch:
I wasn't interested in a slavish reproduction of the still, so I eliminated the apple juice box and the background, concentrating on the figure. I sketch directly on the canvas with a pastel. I never use charcoal or black pastel unless I am actually working in black and white, because the pigment does get picked up and mixes in with the paint a bit. To cut down on this, I smudge the sketch with a paintbrush, but I also choose a color that coordinates with and unifies the work. In this case, the obvious choice was a foxy brown.
3. The background:
I always start with the background, as I work in acrylic, an opaque medium. That way I just add layers, and I don't have to worry about trying to paint around things, just over them. It can create a nice dimensional effect, as well. Since this is a fantasy subject, I chose to make the background colorful and playful. I laid in a gradation of pink, light green and medium green, and then went into those colors to spatter the pink with dark rose, the light green with the same medium green, and the medium green with a darker green. A lot of spatter got on Felicity, but all can be painted over, so no worries. Please join me for Part Two (click here) to see how it all turned out!