What I see in my head is usually not what appears on paper. When starting a new work, I see a lively, vibrant image with clean colors, sparkling highlights and rich darks. What I often get is more like a second rate copy of the original. Somehow there's a disconnect between the inspiring vision and the not-quite-what-I-had-in-mind reality. I'm slowly learning to close the gap. Each piece of art I make, I analyze. What came out right? What do I like and want to repeat again? What missed the mark and how do I need to change it in order to bring it into line with the original vision? Art is such an exciting challenge. So rewarding and satisfying... and so frustrating. There's so much that can't be acquired from a book - it has to be hands-on, making the mistakes, learning the techniques - experience. At least that's the way it is for me. I'm learning too, that when I start a new project, it's good to first experiment with techniques before I actually apply color to the piece. I'm starting a casual portrait of a small child. I'm using CP and not familiar with the medium. My virtual sketch was the first CP I'd done. So instead of jumping straight into the project, I took a piece of scrap watercolor paper and practiced some techniques. When layering CPs do I apply the first color, blend, then apply the second color? Or do I layer both colors and then blend? Through my experiments I found that for a child's skin I get a much softer result by blending in between applications of color. I also worked on rendering hair. There's a really great post on James Gurney's website http://gurneyjourney.blogspot.com/2008/04/hair-ribbon-secret.html that advises artists to render hair to resemble ribbon in order to avoid the "string mop" look. So my art time yesterday was pretty much about reading and experimenting. I'm posting one scrap featuring some experiments. The helmet-looking thing near the top is practice hair for the child's portrait. I tried to apply the ribbon technique. It's still not what I see in my head.... but it's closer!