mixed media on cradled panel
16 x 20 inch
Last month I did a series of very small paintings inspired by Picasso. I decided to do a larger painting of the one I called "Amy" because I loved the posture or pose of her which was quite exaggerated in comparison to Picasso's "The Ascetic", where the whole concept came from.
After beginning my larger painting, the blank space behind her seemed too big and too plain. I considered many options like a window or just a simple pattern, and when I saw Carolyn Plochmann's lace cover in her painting "Something Finely Made" I knew a lace curtain was what I wanted to do. It offered the challenge of trying something new (painting lace) and also provided the background I was looking for.
I used molding paste to create the larger flowers you see in the lace and when they were just too bumpy, I sanded them down quite a bit. I used acrylic paint and colored pencils and ink washes to achieve the look and was pretty happy with the result.
On the table I used some loosely-done fracturing marks I learned from Julie Ford Oliver's online tutorial and workshop. I loved how it created movement all over the tabletop.
The bird was more hallow and ghostly-looking at first. I had planned to leave it that way, but once I started to think of a name for the piece I stumbled onto some interesting knowledge. I was searching for names that begin with "T" since "T...'s Table" seemed an appropriate name for the piece. When reading about the name "Tahmoor" I read that its origin came from the Bronzewing Pigeon which are a group of pigeons native to Australia. So I added some color to the wing and changed the beak to make it look more like a Bronzewing, and now the name Tahmoor was perfect! How's that for a complicated, round about way of naming a painting? Whoever said being an artist was simple? :)
The flowers were a happy turnout as well. I think painting flowers can be difficult and I am ever-searching for new ways to paint them. These were at first big blue blobs and they looked like Dr. Seuss' Truffula Trees. But after playing around with some chunky brushstrokes, the result was exactly the happy flower I had in mind. I mixed a lot of gel medium into the paint to give it a nice, buttery texture.
The trickiest part was her face. I am trying to get away from hard lines and my figures tend to have them, especially around the nose, eyes and brow. There isn't anything wrong with hard lines really, I just want to learn and explore more with with how I paint faces on my characters. After conversing with Julie about my dilemma, she suggested I look at photos converted to black and white in order to discover value changes. I looked at a lot of art online this way and then put my own painted face in black and white to see the "trouble areas", then went from there. I used a lot of light skin tones to sort of smoosh out the hard lines and that did it. It transformed her face by flattening the bridge of her nose and making the eyes quite smaller, but that was okay with me.
Here's the original face in color...
|close up of previous face with harder lines|
And here they are side by side in black and white. You can see a lot more light and dark contrasts in the original face vs the final outcome, especially if you squint. A brilliant suggestion on Julie's part. I had heard this suggestion before, but never took the time to do it.
|in black and white|
Left: before Right: after
I began painting faces in my sketchbook this week and also started a new 16 x 20 inch painting. I can tell you quite honestly, that painting and drawing faces with hard lines is deeply ingrained in me. It just comes so naturally to do them that way, so I don't know if I will ever be able to change it without A LOT of practice and effort on my part. Plus, I am not 100% sure I want to change when I look at the before and after side by side. The "before" face feels a little more like "home" to me. More comfortable. More familiar. That feels silly to say, but do you know what I mean? I have been thinking a lot about this lately, on whether or not to tweak my style a bit or to just not worry about it and paint away. To me, tweaking means growing as an artist and I definitely want to grow. What do you think?
I am babbling now, so off I go to paint more faces. Who knows what will come next?
Thank you SO much for all your wonderful comments in the last post about my show at City Arts. It's still up and running until February 20 and I've had a lot of great feedback on the show. If you live in Wichita or close, I hope you will get by to see it!
Happy Weekend everyone!