Step One: Sketch
I do a full-size drawing as accurately as possible. I know that some artists choose to skip this step and transfer the image in some way by projecting or tracing it right onto their canvas or paper. For those who are use abstraction or change their subject in a dramatic way, drawing accurately is not a significant matter. For me, this is an important step. It's here I get to know my subject better. I make decisions about values, focal point and details. If you don't draw often, you lose your ability to render accurately and I believe your observation skills diminish. Drawing forces you to study your subject carefully. It's important to note, though, that there's more to portraiture than achieving a likeness. When I am sketching my subject, I'm constantly making changes and adjustments for the betterment of the painting.
Step Two: Value and color studies
After the sketch, I do several small color and value sketches. It's here I decide how to establish my focal point. Is it with contrast, movement, texture or something else? Is it interesting, does it have mood, does it say something? In Megan's portrait, I want to focus on her beautiful expression. The strong, natural light and rich shadows in the background will help to enhance the mood of the painting.