Here was my challenge; paint the brother and sister in oil on canvas; and attempt to capture their likenesses and personalities, and create paintings-- not just copies of photographs.
I began with pencil sketches to show to the client for approval. The first round didn't quite achieve their likenesses. I drew both children looking older than they really are; a common problem I have when doing portraits of children.
Also their lips were not at all right-- I drew them much fuller than they are naturally.
Round two (these were actually about round 4 or 5, as I did several interim sketches of both brother and sister)...
The client was much happier with these drawings and gave me the go-ahead to proceed with the underpainting.
At this stage she visited me to see the paintings started.
She was pleased, and again told me to proceed.
Getting close to being finished, I turned to some other artists whose work I respect and admire for pointers. I enjoy the community of artists in cyberspace called "Wet Canvas" where we share our work for constructive criticism and help and encourage each other. It helps to have more eyes look at my work to catch things I can't see.
Being an artist is a lonely profession, for the most part; unless you are a teacher, or work with a team of artists, or share studio space. I primarily work alone in my home studio, except when I teach (currently only one class a week), or when I paint murals and work with a crew.
I got some good feedback and critiques. I learned alot, mostly how much there is yet to learn! Portraits are very difficult, especially when working only from photos.
The ideal situation is to spend some time with your subjects, take your own photos, and make sketches from life.
Whenever I sketch from real life, even very quick gestural sketches-- it has a way of "anchoring in" a visual in my mind that I can conjure up when I'm in the studio. Rough drawings always serve to enhance the "life" of my own photos.
My client was very pleased with the finished portraits, as was the gift recipiant. It was an anniversary gift for her husband.