You will note that this painting is done on a wood panel. While I gessoed the surface slightly, I deliberately left the grain because Jon's deepest soul is that of a nature-loving outdoors kind of guy. Whenever we have done remote wilderness canoe trips on big unpredictable rivers, I am a trembling mess while Jon becomes almost meditative. One of our family jokes is that, when I complain of hypothermia, Jon's inevitable and honestly-puzzled reply is "I'm toasty." The bigger the physical challenge, the more relaxed he gets. When his all-male canoeing group trip whitewater, he's usually the one to run the loaded canoes through the white water while the others portage. I treasure the several pictures I have of this; his face glows with exertion and happiness. There's something of that look in this portrait. Picture a paddle down to the left.
So, using a rough substrate and dark colours was the right choice for my beloved, who is enjoying a completely satisfactory (because active) moment. While both Jon and the subject are quiet and private, her version is the feminine one. I am working on that portrait now and muttering "soft" and "gentle" to myself. To begin with, the canvas is much smoother than the wood.The colours will be feminine rather than high-key, the edges soft and even lost at times. I'm still deciding how much or how little to detail her sweater, which has strong contrasts in it; my inclination is to render it by suggestion. I think it will be titled "Quiet."
And just so you know that I didn't forget that promise in April (just misplaced my notes), here are four French artists who rendered skin tones brilliantly: Caillebotte, Ingres, and early Renoir (at least in "Young Boy with Cat).