Self Portrait on a Train

More painting practice, still working closely from an photograph. I'm okay with that... for a little while longer. Pretty soon I'm going to have to start building the entire picture from the sketch on up, but I have a bit more to learn about creating a palette first. The original picture is here. I chose to work from that particular picture because of the limited palette and because of the luminosity.  (Hey, just 'cause I'm a little scared of color doesn't mean I don't prefer intense color.) Also because it's a picture of me that I like, which is rare. Using the photo for color reference and layout, I made this:

train01

Not so great, right? I've never had much trouble getting to this point in a painting, (photoshop or actual) but then I hit a wall called 'I dunno what to do next.' Which is why I never really got into painting until recently.

This time when I started flailing, I called in my guest expert *coughfiancecough* and had him take a look.[*] As usual, he made me face what I already knew:  I wasn't done yet, and he wasn't about to let me pretend this was 'good enough'.

So I did this:

train02

and this:

train03

and this:

train04

And then played with opacity and layer order for a little while. Plus a few tweaks, I now have this:

trainfinal

Much better. Hopefully, I'll remember how I did it for next time...

[*] A word about letting someone look at your work before it's finished: Don't do it lightly. Particularly don't do it if you don't have a strong sense of your direction in this particular piece, or if you are at all dependent on praise. Sometimes you need to see something through to its end in order to learn, even if you're pretty sure it won't work. That's doubly hard to do if someone's sitting on your shoulder saying it won't work give up now. (Sure, they'll actually say something like 'I think I'd like it better if you smoothed the edges a bit', but that's never what you actually hear.) An extra eye and a careful word can give you perspective when you need it. But it can also totally derail your process, and your trust in yourself as an artist.