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Last year, I did a series of daily sketches. One that I liked quite a lot was a gesture based on a reference from New Masters Academy.
I liked it enough, in fact, to use it as the basis for some form and color studying. I'm not 100% satisfied with some of the proportions; I definitely find drawing with no gridding and no aids still to be a little challenging, and I do end up with some noticeably imperfect translations from life/references, but I got the idea down well enough.
I played a lot with the level of finish, debating how far to push the colors and such. I ultimately decided to not refine it completely.
Completed in Adobe Photoshop CS6 and Corel Painter.
(Here is the original gesture sketch):
Here is a series of WIP's:
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and at www.donavanneil.com
© Donavan Neil
Reference obtained via a subscription to www.newmastersacademy.org/home…
I've got a lot left to learn about painting people, but I feel like I'm making good progress.
And you are right: experiencing the difficulty and discomfort of pushing oneself is how we learn. I intend to keep learning.