What is it about a face?
Our eyes are automatically drawn to eyes. Even the infants I take care of in our church nursery each week look directly into my eyes. Why is that? There are plenty of other interesting things to look at!
It's the same way with a painting. As I worked on this one, I was pleased all along the way. I loved being able to create the cold wintry feeling of the sky. I loved the line snowy evergreens and the scruffy bushes in front of them. I loved how the house and its drive set down in the background - important yet blending in. I loved the shape of the pond. I loved the colors in the snow that keep it from being a flat white. I loved the wrinkles in the clothes, the little one's hat, his hands, and his attitude... but if the momma's face wasn't right, none of the other things mattered.
I tried to believe all that other stuff was important. I signed it and went to bed thinking it would be fine; but for some reason I didn't clean up my paint palette. I guess I knew... if I didn't love the 2-3 square inches of canvas with eyes, nose, mouth, cheeks, teeth, eyebrows, chin... none of the rest mattered.
So... armed with a tiny brush, a Coke, and some determination, I turned the painting upside down (so I would focus on shapes and colors instead of "face") and gave it one more hour.
Every feature was in the right place... so what was it? The tiniest stroke off the nose, the least highlight on the chin, barely a stroke on the edge of the smile, a faint lightening of the eyelid, slight shading on the cheek, The difference is so slight... and so important...
Now... I love the face...
As a side note... I've loved that pretty face since I first met her when she was a bright-eyed 9-year old in my class.