The first time I came across a Salvador Dali painting (in a book), I was a fan. It was the moment I realized art could be something beyond either still life or classical paintings. Sure, I was old enough to be aware of all kinds of art. But, it took a Dali to really open my mind to how limitless art could be. Before then, I saw art without fully understanding or considering each piece. Dali taught me to look beyond the first impression and to look for hidden meanings or imagery. Though I eventually settled on abstract as my preferred style of expression, Dali had a profound impact on how I approached my art.

Since I’m stretching my creative muscles and experimenting with this style of expressionism on portraits, I thought he would be a good subject. There are countless photos of the man – usually with him making an odd face. Since I couldn’t decide on one, I chose to do a composite. I think I’m happy with how it turned out.

36″ x 60″ @ 300ppi

Salvador Progress Screenshots

On the off-chance that anyone is interested, here are some screenshots of how I worked through the process.

First, the rough composition sketch. This is not to say that I was able to come up with this layout on my first try. I wish.

Next, I block out the color areas. This is intended to be another rough sketch of the general composition. Getting an idea of how areas of the project will be colored. It also serves a dual purpose of helping my orient myself when zoomed in and lessens the need that I cover every pixel when applying more detailed paint strokes later on.

Then I start on the detail strokes. I like to begin with the eyes, since – to me – they represent the most important part of the composition.

I tried something different with the mouth. My thought was that I would go with the major wrinkles in the lips for the flow of the brush strokes. It wasn’t until after I had finished the lips and added in enough of the surrounding face that I realized how bad it looked. No definition, didn’t look like lips at all. More like needle teeth from a bad nightmare.

Much better. Lips now have a better shape. I do lose the vertical wrinkles; but, I think the trade-off is worth it. Maybe, if I work on it, I can get to the point where I can accomplish the flow and the detail of the wrinkles in areas like this.

Getting there. This is about where I started to see the light at the end of the tunnel. From here, it was just a matter of finishing out the foreground features – hair, primarily – and adding in the background faces.

Other Detail Shots