If want to learn all about this painting please read the previous blog entries to see how it started. Now that I have been able to work on it I started by doing several sketches of what the background should be. I wanted more than just a dark blank background to give her a place to be but not so much detail in that background as to take away from the beauty of the dancer. After the sketches I did a final drawing of the background on paper and then traced it on the canvas. What I was looking for was a place that gave the idea of a palace somewhere in the Middle East. I hope the column will add a sense of distance be being in the mid ground and then the other features such as the pool behind her will give a sense of deeper space as well as a tranquil setting.
The goal was to create a mood of her dancing in the palace but there are no other people. I want the viewer to get the feeling she is dancing for him or her. When I paint her I think of her dancing for just me. As I have said before she is a beautiful woman from Florida who has been dancing professionally for some years. I met her on MySpace. Her MySpace page is: crisssyscorpio. (She did give me permission to mention this here.) You can go there and see many more pictures of her dancing. I hope to do many more paintings of her.
Once the drawing was on the canvas I did a rough painting of it with Burnt Sienna just to establish the basic shapes and give it some sense of depth and light. I knew from the start it was going to be much darker and not as red but this was a good way to get light and a warm color in the under painting.
With that done I let it dry and then went over the entire background with a darker brown and whipped it out to bring the details back up. This was done with a rag and my fingers. I'm not done with it yet and it will get much darker in parts and the column, I have now decided needs to move forward by adding some more details and light to give more of a sense of space and depth.
With that dry I started on the face. Painting a woman's skin is as good as my painting life gets. I have not actually met this lovely lady and probably never will but I wanted to get what I feel is a look of enjoyment and happiness in the face as I see her from what I do know of her. It is impossible to actually do a portrait of her without knowing her but then sometimes my imagination is almost as good. I did the face in much warmer tones than it will be finally. I just wanted to define the facial structure and give a sense of light on her with what I hope is the proper expression.
I admit I had to struggle more than usual with the mouth since I had only a very small photo to work from and wanted to get a smile without making her look like she had a piano keyboard in her mouth. Teeth are always difficult to show in a painting without overdoing it and having her look as if she had a lobotomy and was just jumping around in some sort of frenzy or had just won the lottery.
I have emailed back and forth with her and have come to understand and appreciate her feelings about the dance. I am trying to show that in the painting. It is erotic only to a limited extent and more to give the viewer, that lucky viewer, a feeling of happiness and freedom as she portrays those same feelings. When I paint her I sometimes almost feel as if she is moving and I can hear music in my head. The closer I can feel to the subject the better the work.
I am back to the easel most of the time now and want to immerse my head in the work. It is difficult but very necessary to stay focused and concentrate with painting and to think of almost nothing else even when I'm away from the easel. It must consume me as it is.
There are many stages to go and some things I'm still not happy about. The next step is to do the rest of her body with the same coloring as her face and then bring the background up to the next level and then go back to the skin and get that closer. When the skin is right and the background is where it needs to be I can then concentrate on the gown and the jewelry that needs to flow over the gown and her delicate skin. The hair is just roughed in now and needs to have details and darkness added but that is several layers to go.
I hope this is at least sort of interesting to some and anyone wanting to know more or with comments please do leave them or questions. I do have a few other paintings in the works and need to work on them as I go forward with this one when it is too wet to paint but all the time I'm working on the beginning stages of others I keep part of my mind on this one and on what I see in my head as the final work.