First I will explain the inspiration and some thoughts then on to the technical stuff. This painting is 24 x 36 inches in oils. Perhaps I should keep all my thoughts to myself and allow the viewer to make up her or his own story. However, I find patrons and purchasers of my work always ask me to tell the story around its creation. Many ask to have it written and printed for them to put on the back of the canvas when they buy and hang it.
So here it is, as brief as I can make it. The original idea for this came from looking at the work of Klimt and a few others while talking, texting and emailing with a lovely lady who was a sort of muse and inspiration to my work and me. I often thought of her home alone, late at night, dreaming of what could be in the night or maybe just the blessings she has in her life at that moment. The sky, the stars and the moon are as abstract as her imagination yet as golden as I know her heart to be. Her long red hair has always been an inspiration for me, so many colors to paint and setting her on soft flowing drapes seems appropriate for such beauty. It is always interesting to me how just a simple thought or word can bring an image nearly full blown into my head and force itself to a canvas. Those are the best of times. As I painted this I listened to the music of MARCOMÉ (pronounced Mar-ko-may) and old Chicago blues as well as jazz guitar by “Eclectic Dee”. A strange mix but they all seem to get me in the various needed moods for the moment.
I go into the technical part because there seems to be a number of painters who enjoy learning of the how more than the why. After the initial inspiration and the image coming to life in a series of scribbles in a sketch book I took it to a pastel to do the drawing necessary and get the colors and mood as quickly as possible. Pastels allow me to go fast and make many changes on the fly without being intimidated by making mistakes on the canvas. This pastel is, 15 x 22 inches. I already had the canvas prepared and knew I wanted it to end up a 24 x 36.
I then photographed the pastel, put that on the computer and then blew the figure up in pieces to be able to easily get that to the canvas. I like to do this with my drawn figures since it saves a lot of grid work or tedious redrawing. The canvas was linen on standard stretchers and gesso primed at least 6 coats put on with a knife to get a rather smooth surface. I’m not much of a fan of the weave showing. It was then tones with burnt sienna.
After the figure is traced I go over it with a thin line of burnt sienna and then fill in the hair some just for body. Next I put in some rough color for the sky to push it back and then rough in the drapes for composition.
The body is roughed in just enough to give it some sense of form and muscle structure. The hair is given just a quick brush stroked look to start building shape.
The next step is work on the sky. I felt I couldn’t work on the figure until the sky was about done. It was controlling the mood of the whole work. Most of the gold colored paint is what is known as “gold” by Gamblin but is made from powdered bronze. I like the way it handles and looks. It also mixes well with other colors. I then added some to the drapes in the foreground to give them more form.
In the next stage I have darkened the sky and given the figure, hair and drapes more shape. From here I went more to the figure. I added more hair to the right and took out some that was there. I started to work on the figure with more color. I wanted her to be rich in colors, not so realistic as much as to fit the mood of the sky.
In the final version the flesh tones are deeper and more colorful but still kept somewhat realistic. I have been trying to find a way of painting that was less photographic but still used some of my many years of study of the human form.
More colors used then my usual by the end. Burnt sienna, burnt umber, cadmium red, cadmium vermilion, yellow ochre, that gold, raw sienna, chrome yellow, Naples yellow, alizarin crimson, Windsor violet, phthalo turquoise, Prussian blue, cobalt blue, ultramarine blue, titanium white, only medium used was Liquin light gel. (prefer the original)
This is my first attempt at a new direction and there is a lot of loosening up to do in the weeks to come. From a simple conversation about clothing colors a new image has found its way to my sketchbook. Before that gets to a canvas I have a few others I’ve started and need to finish. Working on a moon series. I am also working on a landscape where I hope to be able to work that type of subject matter into this same relaxed style. I will just have to wait and see what happens.
Questions or comments are always welcomed, even the bad ones.