I’ve been trying exercises using limited brushstrokes, to improve visual judgments and decision making. At first I tried 40 strokes, but that was definitely not enough for a face! I increased to 60, which is much better. Now I’m aiming at 60 strokes on the face alone, not the hair or background. Even that seems a challenge!
My source for faces is mainly Unsplash, using ‘face’ or ‘portrait, although I also use brochures and flyers if they contain a good photo of a face.
I’m using 6 x 8 inch sheets of Fredrix canvas paper, toned with Chromium Green acrylic. I draw the main structures and features in roughly with yellow ochre paint and paint in the background. Then I’m ready for the 60 strokes!
I consider one brush contact with the canvas to be a stroke, even if I move the brush in several directions to cover an area.
Here are my first three studies, all from Unsplash:
On the first painting (photographer Jurica Koletic) I did not do any blending at all. On subsequent paintings I have done a small amount of blending with my finger. (The second painting is from a photo by Christopher Campbell, and the third is by Stefan Stefancik).
I record the strokes on an 8 x 12 in canvas sheet like this:
Well, now you can see that I did not really keep to exactly 60 strokes! I’m learning to judge skin tones more accurately, mix colors faster, and see which strokes are the most necessary. A good exercise!