I decided to model the block-in to help clarify my thoughts about how to proceed with the painting. My guess was that just like a photo of a person tends to highlight the darks and lights, resulting in a flat appearance, the photo of a painting would probably result in the same effect. So I decided not to copy the values exactly as they appear in the reproduction but to instead conceptualize the forms with regard to their angle to and distance from the light source. The way that I imagine Eakins, with his training, and interest in optics, would have worked. I spent a lot of time working and re-working the face trying to show the compressed range of values in the shadow side of the face without having it look spotty, or like a topo map. I think having this drawing as a guide will definitely help with the painting. If I had the time, I would make a drawing like this for everything I'm painting, including still lifes. There's something about the slow process of pencil modeling that helps me to slow down and really start to understand what's going on. I tried out a new kind of pencil that was recommended to me by one of my instructors. It's a mechanical pencil that holds .3 size lead, which is small enough to model forms without ever having to be sharpened. It's not quite as subtle as a sharpened point but it's pretty close and you don't have to stop, ever, which allows one to easily reach that heightened state of concentration.
1 day ago