Now feeling very clear about the direction the image should take, I made a few small colour studies from life to guide my later decisions about light and colour. The vessels behind Glen's head, which repeat his neck/head shapes were a possible addition. These are parallel to Glens head/ neck, so the atmosphere between them could have been interesting to paint for this subtle sense of space. Finally I decided they were distracting as well as awkward because of the way they appear to sit upon his shoulders. The second study on the right is more fluid, and the features more suppressed as subforms.
There were a few major ingredients that I tried to develop in the final painting. The first was an idea to enjoy a tight cropping around the subject. With the head awkwardly close to the top it would be an opportunity to find a way out of that situation ie. emphasising other areas. The scale is also above life size, which gave me room to work with some thicker paint, scumbling for much of the modelling and allowing room for sculpting around forms. .
I enjoy this mix between: the viewpoint in the image/ its relationship with the format/ compared to an over life size scale. Another way to say this is: the viewer of Glen is positioned close to him, from below/ Glen fills up the format, almost too large for the context/ his scale being physically over life size gives an interesting tension between those factors and creates a more looming effect. Viewed "in the flesh" the painting is more engaging and monumental for this set of relationships.
The central dark shape behind Glen's nose was a feature to exploit. I tried to keep it isolated and limited the modelling in the shadow zone. By leading in and out of this drake area by modelling, the surrounding subforms become intergrated.
As mentioned previously, the design was the most interesting aspect in the making process. By making all kinds of diagrammatic studies about the image, and exploring the diagonal, C and S-curve systems etc. all the parts became cohesive. As painters know, all these studies are trials which sensitise us, so the actual painting process becomes more confident and nuanced.