Did another headstudy last night with my weekly group. We had "lazy-eye" John come out again to sit, which he was more than happy to do to get out of the house.
I switched things up this time and used flake (lead) white and a top quality oil primed portrait-grade linen rather than titanium white and crappy Michaels' bargain canvas. I'm usually painting on a pre-toned surface, but this time went just with the raw white background.
The use of these different materials resulted in a very different end-look. The stark white linen accentuates the thin, sketchy alla prima look but also allows for a more pure and fresh look to the colors. The flake white, also being less opaque added to this aesthetic, and its density shows a more obvious stroke. The paint surface overall is much rougher but more painterly and telling of the direct technique.
My usual approach is to paint an academic method in a sped-up manner, but I'm finding I run out of time trying to get a smooth finish while having enough information in the features. I am now leaving the backgrounds thin and the clothing simple as those things can be worked on later if desired. The goal is to find a formula where the materials and end result are in harmony with the task being attempted. This rougher look might be a more logical approach for males, while younger and female portraits may be better done with titanium white for a softer finish.