Subway Series No. 13 - Painting Progression / by VH McKenzie

I've been meaning to document these small portraits from start to finish but routinely get so carried away in the process, I forget to stop and take some photos. I caught myself during this most recent painting and remembered to at least take a few pics with my phone as I started.

Step 1: Pencil grid on the surface to help maintain the proportions  of my reference snapshot and then some quick sketching with pencil and a thin wash of paint. This probably looks like a big sloppy mess, rather than any subway riders you may have seen:



 I've gotten quite good, by the way, at taking surreptitious photos with my phone on the train. Folks rarely have a clue that I'm snapping away...


Ok -- I wish I'd thought to take another photo before I got to this stage but I got here so quickly, I didn't have a chance! Then I stopped to let things dry a bit and consider my next move:





I was very pleased with the woman on the right but wanted to give more form and detail to her hands and lap and also to the woman on the left. But I didn't want to get over wrought in detail:


I opted to use a nice celadon-green in the background which set off quite nicely agains the rust-colored hair of the woman on the right. It also gave the scene a whole different feel than the cool gray I had in place at first. So that's it, I decided to stop right there, keeping this fresh and loose:

 NYC Subway No. 13
4" x 4" x 1.5" oil on cedar wood block