I don't normally do underpaintings, but I thought I'd try something different, as my New Year's resolution is to spend more time and energy on each painting. I did have a brief live sitting with the sitter, but since then I've been painting this portrait using photo references I took on the first day. The model will sit again so that I can get a better sense of the colors in her face. For now, I've been focusing on the drawing and value.
My main question is what to do with the background. The sitter is a scholarly person, and she wants a particular series of books in the background; she's bringing me a few volumes tomorrow that I can put on a bookshelf and paint from life. Obviously I don't want the books to overwhelm the sitter. Also, I'm inclined to leave the back-left fairly empty, with a gradient of light from left to right. The idea is to create a little depth: sitter in the foreground, bookshelves in the middle ground, cool gradiated light in the background.
Incidentally, the sitter is actually wearing a tweed jacket; I haven't made any effort to show its texture in this underpainting, so it looks more like a leather jacket, heh. People don't use underpaintings to indicate surface details like textures, do they? I'm open to suggestions on how to handle that and anything else in the picture.
"Brunaille in progress," oil on linen panel, 16" x 20,"; C&C welcome.