I've decided to share some shots of her in progress, so you guys can get an idea of how my painting process evolves. Since so many people have asked me how I do what I do and I'm terrible at explaining this sort of thing, I figured I'd use pictures to help. As you can see, first I outline the figure and then work the background up. Sometimes, if the figure is going to be fairly dark or that background is a bit lighter I'll work the background up first without the figure - this is way easier than creating a smooth background around a figure! In this shot, the background already has 4 layers of different shades of green and blue grey spirals outlined. You'll have to take my word for it because the lighting in my studio and my iphone's camera do not agree with each other! Also, you can tell that I had originally drawn her up higher and much smaller.
From there, I move on to shading the figure in fairly bold, chunky patches. One this one, I'm using ultramarine blue and dark beige. Before I added the browns, she looked a lot like a mime. Heh. From there, I start coating her with flesh toned glazes that I mix up specifically for the skin tone I want. Getting the skin to look natural without losing all of the undershading can take 4 - 6 layers depending on how fair skinned the subject is. In the brightest areas, I go ahead and use an undiluted paint to get it nice and smooth.
I'm about 6 hours in and she's starting to flesh out nicely. (Literally!) She's not quite as colorful as previous paintings, but once the background starts coming together she'll get there. Once the flesh is in place, I like to hit areas of light and shadow with both natural and unnatural colors - in this case, burnt umber and ultramarine shading and pale yellow for highlight as well as to define some of the musculature. These are also applied in glazed layers and I tend to blend them together as I work - sometimes using all the colors at one time. The yellows are a bit blown out of proportion by my camera phone, they're a lot more subtle in person.
From here, she'll be given eyes, a little more definition in her lips, maybe some deeper shadows. Then I'll be working on her hair and building up a crazy ass background/foreground. Lots of spirals and light, maybe some eyes. We'll see where she takes me!
P.S. This one is being painted while listening to the "Hurt" station on Pandora, which I started up with the song by Nine Inch Nails. This coupled with a funk probably explains why she's less vibrant than the previous ones.
P.P.S. A note about why I typically don't paint clothing: Not only do I think painting clothing is a giant pain in the ass, but I think it tends to distract a bit from the figure, the movement and the presence of the painting. Since they're such a symbol of personality and status in day to day society, I worry those qualities will be projected on to the piece. Honestly? Who gives a fuck if the woman in the painting is rich, poor, stylish, in need of a fashion intervention, where she shops, etc? That's not the point. Clothes get in the way of the emotion and the flow of the painting for me. As such, nearly every painting I do in the intuitive style is done au natural.