A conversation with the client addressing what is most important about the drawing begins the portrait process.  I collect photos, sometimes its only one, and other times it’s a combination of photos, as it was in this piece.
I start with a rough sketch on simple drawing paper, work on the composition and any problem spots. Then I draw it again on high-quality watercolor paper.  I use traditional Chinese Sumi Ink in an untraditional way.  I really paint with water and just touch the ink to the water and let the ink do it’s magic. Wetting the ink stick and rubbing it on the stone forms traditional Sumi Ink.  I use a variety of brushes to create different effects, opacities and line widths. 
Using Sumi Ink is truly a process of letting go. Attempting to over control the ink creating the piece will create a mess. I simply plan the painting with water, carefully touch it with the ink and walk away. The final touch is adding a splash of color to bring the portrait to life.