The key to getting a likeness in a portrait is not worrying about the likeness at first, but the overall gesture. Let me explain. If we as artists get bogged down with the feature shape and placement, such as eyes, nose and mouth too early, we will drive ourselves bonkers trying to fit it all together like some sort of puzzle. I know I have spent countless hours noodling with an eye or nose and end up just pushing paint around a canvas and still telling myself, “there’s something just not right’.
By seeing past the features early on, and only looking at the shape of the head, the bigger shapes, the subject comes to life right before us. Then, it’s a matter of assessing, and correcting and zeroing in. This portrait study done in my sketchbook, I used only black, white, and venetian red oils as I am continuing to explore different limited palettes. I don’t begin with any drawing or line work but am only concerned with form. Hope this helps and happy painting!