Bill's Progressive method.


Supporting Member
This is one I tried with Bill Martin's progressive focus method. Only did this once but it didn't turn out too shabby.

I think it was only 5"X7", Don't even know what happened to it.
Wow! This is so stunning. I can't stop staring. I am drawn to how soft and elegant it is. Maybe it's the pose and the blending at the same time. She is so pretty, like in the way that makes one feel or shows that all women are especially beautiful.
We did this on WC. Myself and Jaka, another member both did this old master. His was tiny and he did a fantastic job with it. And thank you Arty! :giggle:
Is it possible to describe the point of this method in a few sentences?

Yes, I will describe the method, in a nutshell.

Absolutely NO preliminary drawing required. I found that creating preliminary "lines" was preventing my achieving an accurate likeness. Tried "accurate drawings" for never worked for me!

My reference consists of 3, or perhaps 4, color photographs, each with a progressive amount of BLUR (in Photoshop).

I begin with the photo that has the greatest blur, which is so great that I can not even tell that it is a "person".

I turn that greatly-blurred photo upside down, and I begin painting on my 16" x 20" canvas (which is exactly proportional to an 8" x 10" photo).

Once I have precisely duplicated the appearance of that blurred photo with paint on canvas, I move to the next, not-quite-so-blurred photo. I may, or may not turn that photo upside down, depending upon my whim at the time. I progress through each, and every progressively sharper photo, until I have completed the painting, using the normal, sharp focus photo as my final reference.

This method automatically "forces" the painter to create "shapes", rather than "things". It also allows the painter to work from the "general" to the "specific". It also creates a situation in which the artist MUST stand back at a distance in order to determine the accuracy of the work he is doing. When I use this method, I could use a brush with a 2-foot handle on it, I want to be so FAR away from the canvas. This great blur, allows me to actually get "things" (really "shapes") in their relative, accurate positions early on, with no investment in painting detail, rather than rendering an eye perfectly, only to find out near the end of the painting that it is in an inappropriate position, or at the wrong size. This method is an absolute, "paint what you see" method, and the great blur at the initial stage is the absolute key to the method!

These are ALL very sound "art practices", with which most artists agree, but many portrait painters do not, for some reason unknown to me. It seems that many portrait artists follow the doctrine of "paint that which you know OUGHT to be there", rather than "paint what you actually see". Personally, I wouldn't know a sternocleidomastoid muscle from a butt crack, but I can certainly paint what I see, and, when taught correctly through this "progressive focus method", so can MANY OTHER artists!

And, WOW.....Sno! How'd you like to be the "poster chid" for my Progressive Focus Method? That painting you did is INCREDIBLE! Thank you so much for posting that!!(y)
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Sno, the painting is beautiful. Maybe because it´s so small it hides somewhere in between other paintings but appears one day! What year did you do this wonderful old Master´s copy?
Bill, thanks for explaining the method very clear and understandable. This method would be good for me to try because I tend to paint too sharp edges and often am missing shapes.
Maybe one of you could one day run a thread where we do an other old master´s copy with this method together. Just a thought.
Thank you Bill and moscatel! I really can't tell you when I painted this, probably 6 years ago or something like that. You should see Jaka's painting of this. He didn't use the progressive focus method but did the same painting in a 2"X3" painting. He is a whiz at miniatures. I just thought since we were doing the copy that I would try Bill's method to see how it worked for me. It was fun.
Snoball, it's a masterpiece,
fantastic, also the staircase is very small.
wonderful work.
Snoball, it's a masterpiece,
fantastic, also the staircase is very small.
wonderful work.

thank you so much for the explanation, fantastic.

I don't know if I'll ever make a painting, if possibly real or digital but in case this is something I want to try.