This image was created as a request by my Grandmother; she wanted something for her dining room wall. I had plenty of things to choose from, but I thought it would be nice to paint something that she could identify with. Instead of aiming to create a photo-realistic or a cartoon-like image, I made something in between, which I believe is a better style to have on a wall.
The first thing I did was to have a look for some fine-art references, to gain inspiration for this kind of painting. I did a few tests, specifically thinking about the face (Fig.01 - 04) and how I wanted it to be the focal point of the picture (Fig.05 - 06). After trying several times, I decided to give it a bit more of a uniform look, so that the picture was still powerful from a distance, as well as close-up. This was the most difficult decision for me. I'm so used to thinking about how a picture would look from a closer view, such a screen or small prints, whereas this artwork has been originally created for a DIN A3 print.
The very first idea was to create a completely monochromatic picture. My first attempt was black and white, but then I thought that an older-looking picture (Fig.07) would be nice. My Grandmother loves colour, so I converted to practice with colours to try and make it more interesting. This image had monochromatic lighting, which was a little flat, so that I didn't overload the picture. I still kept in the heavy shadows, but this was a personal choice for this particular piece of work. I wanted white clothes so that they contrasted well with the rest of the image. I chose a warm palette to work with because it simply looks more relaxing, and the references that I had used as inspiration didn't display any cooler colours at all in the clothing details. It is a very basic palette, and I didn't use any colour variation for the semi-darkness or the shadows.
For this particular work I have basically used a standard soft brush (Fig.08), which is very good to work with to cover large areas and to blend colours to make them look soft, and also to keep the gradients very fluid. Another brush that I used a lot was the hard-edged brush (Fig.09). The hard-edged brush gives a lot of texture, and a natural look and feel to the painting. (Fig.08 and Fig.09 show the exact settings that I used for pretty much everything.)