Charcoal Study for New Horse Portrait. approx 20x16. 2015
While I usually do these value designs as small 5x7 pencil sketches, when I’m working on a larger portrait I will often take a full sheet of paper and work out the design in charcoal. It helps to give a feel for the scale of what I'm about to paint as well as a guide to the eventual placement of the figure on the canvas.
Another thing I'm doing at this stage is starting to think about the edges of the figure. I'm looking for places where it will be easy to have soft and lost edges (against the background values) versus places where the edges will be harder. I'm still trying to work that out.
As I started working through the block-in on the canvas, my vision of the finished painting changed a little. I went back and made a few changes to the value study to see how it would work in practice.