Almost ready… but for what?
My young model was about to be photographed in the attire of her choosing, in which she felt most beautiful. A red t-shirt she got from summer camp where she had her first week-away-from-home experience and a black knitted cap pulled down low on her forehead. Her ponytail was in the back and none of her hair could be seen. Not wanting viewers to confuse her for a boy, I asked if it would be okay to rearrange her hair into a side ponytail and let her long mane flow down her shoulder and chest. She kindly obliged and took off the cap, slipped off the rubber band, and began combing her hair with her fingers. As she pulled it to the side I saw the image I wanted to paint.
Working from the top down I watched as she emerged from the canvas, using bigger brushes to keep the image very realistic but also loose. For a long time I have been using brushes size 6 and smaller, often working with a size 2, making my work very tight and accurate. I want to loosen up and let my work look more “painterly”. I liked the way it looked when unfinished, it seemed to say enough. Knowing when to stop is a challenge. One stroke too many can ruin a painting that was showing promise. It was important to me to paint her hair because I know how long she has been waiting for it to grow, the time she takes styling it, and how she often likes to hide behind it. So I worked down the canvas and stopped before I reached the bottom.
I needed to leave part of it unfinished, because there is always more to say.