This is a portrait commission that I was working on this week. At left is the full-sized value sketch and composition.
After meeting with the client and an hour-long photography session, we decided that the simplest design would be the best approach. Shannon is a very pretty girl who exudes a good deal of confidence and friendliness. Adding background elements or a complicated design may have taken away from that.
After tweaking the composition, I started layering the skin tones with quinacridone colors and transparent pigments. This kept a nice glow in the painting even with subsequent layers.
I saved the opaques (mostly Cad Red and Turquoise) for the end to punch up some dark areas.