I'm in the homestretch now on this Roethlisberger joint. It's amazing how I always underestimate every new project I take on, and then, once finished, immediately forget how hard it was and how long it took.
The biggest pain in the ass when doing illustrations of football players is the damn helmet and mask. When drawing or painting any other type of sports figure you can be a lot looser and try to get a little bit of expression and kineticism into the piece, but once you tackle that helmet and face mask, you enter the realm of technical illustration. And, of course every bit of it casts shadow and reflects light. I always find that, once I get their heads out of the way, illustrating football players becomes a lot more fun.
Overall, though, I'm very happy with how this piece is turning out. I've always been good at rendering figures, but (with my paintings, mostly) I never knew what the hell to do with the background. I never want the backgrounds to be too realistic or busy because: A. It will distract from the figure in the foreground; something I really want to stay away from in sports portraits, and B. I don't see the point in rendering an entirely realistic canvas from top to bottom. You may as well just get the photo.
In this piece I think I've struck the perfect balance between abstraction and realism that places the figure in a specific time and place without distracting from the figure itself. My original intention was to go with a dark, muted color scheme in the background so that the foreground figure will really pop right out at you, and I think this achieves it wonderfully.
Working on this piece, and finally getting to this point with it has left me very excited to do more of these paintings now that I have a better idea of where to go and what the hell it is I'm doing.