Secondly, the actual reason, is that I'm a coward and this is the part of the painting that intimidates me the most. I'm completely comfortable drawing the figure in charcoal, but when it comes to painting I always feel like a raw beginner again. The head hands and feet are the most challenging so I put them off. Many artists paint the central figure first to establish the colors, and the strongest contrasts of light and dark. this makes it easy to do a background that doesn't overpower the figure. If you've already done an overpowering background it's hard to make the figure stand out as the focal point, the star of the show.
On the other hand perhaps I'm just old and bitter. I'm certainly old. And, it must be said, I'd tried many times in the past to get into the illustration business or to get my art into Spectrum to no success. That can make you bitter if you let it.
But these days I don't care that much. I rarely take on illustration assignments and when I do it's more as a favor for a friend than a career building ambition. So any bitterness I once nurtured has hopefully been thrown aside.
I wrestle with that question whenever I find myself feeling disdainful of modern illustration. Is it an honest dislike or is it sour grapes?
I'm going to say much more on this topic, but not today.
At this stage the girl in the painting no longer bears any resemblance to my model. This usually happens which is why I'm not a portrait painter. Painting portraits is an entirely different skill from painting people, perhaps in the same way that writing songs is different from writing stories. Both admirable skills, but not the same skill.