i finally settled on the composition you see here. at a life painting session last fall i was struck by how vibrant and glowing the skin tones were when framed by a darker purple-ish gray neutral. i changed mush of the darker background in the reference photo to this color and made some geometric shapes to frame the figures. all this was drawn and transferred to a 300#, 15"X22" piece of fabriano artistico hot press paper.
i will just put up the stage photos as i moved along. they are more or less about 30 minutes of work between each. as it is a new "color" for me i will note that the dark background is a loosely mixed combination of cobalt blue and cadmium red light. so far the likenesses are coming along okay and i am liking the dark strips of color behind the figures. i am struck by how little detail is necessary in john's profile to get the effect that i want. it is mainly driven by the outline of the front of his face. that's good as there is a paucity of half-tones (or the whole thing is a half-tone) in the photo i am using which means that if i am going to put them in i will have to make them up. that was a challenge for connie's face. that is the trouble with a flash photo.