Friday, April 12, 2013

The Night Prelude, Part 3

I've been really bad at remembering to take process photos. On the occasions I actually have remembered, the results have not been optimal. In my studio, there are three windows coming from two directions plus a virtual menagerie of lights. While this is great when I'm working, it makes for less than ideal conditions to photograph my work. But, I'm trying my best and I'll make a go of walking you through any important missed steps.

When I last wrote about the piece, I'd blocked in large fields of color with very little detail save for some work done on the face (link). After that post, a fair bit of progress was made. I began to block in some detail in the dress, did another pass over the face, and began to define the background.

Yeah. There were a lot of steps missing. Either way, it left me with a piece that looked like this:

There's something odd about how this painting is coming together. Typically, I keep the image of what I'm trying to make inside my head for much longer. The full value structure (the mapping of my darkest darks and lightest lights) typically doesn't start coming together until further along in the process, and that structure is almost always a compromise between what I had in my head and a reaction to what I've completed to that point. This time around, for whatever reason, it seemed like a good idea to get to the point a little sooner. So I did. I have no idea if this will make for a better painting, but I'm sure we'll find out.

An important aspect of what I failed to document was the day I did a second pass on the dress. Of course, I completely wiped the area after a full day's work, so the the next day the painting would have looked exactly the same, but it would have been a great misstep to show you all.

Now, I've always had a difficult time painting things that are bright red. More specifically, I've always found it difficult to give bright red things the illusion of three-dimensionality while still keeping the color pure. I suspect that a major part of this difficulty is due to the fact that I have a very difficult time even looking at bright red things to begin with. If the color is intense enough, it starts to bleed like red often might on old CRT television sets. As a result of this visual bleeding, the longer I look at bright red objects, the more two-dimensional they begin to appear.

While the above may sound like complete nonsense, I assure you it happens to me, and it's very frustrating. So, when forced to depict bright red objects, I need to work on them in short bursts, and I'll often repeatedly pull the painting out from under the lights so as to decrease the intensity of the colors in order to better evaluate my value range. On the day in question, I didn't do any of that and was determined to slog through. I can only tell you that the result was terrible, which would be why I ended up wiping it. What you see above is the result of my second go of things the following day.

Anyway, after I got things to the point above, I finally decided it was time to do a pass over the London hood, the sleeves, and the hands. I also took some time to sort the flowing dress out. Here's how it looked:

Lots of glare on the piece, and the red is a little dull, but it's fairly accurate value-wise.

Today's agenda includes indicating a pattern on the dress, some touch-ups here and there, and an additional pass over the arms and hands. I'll probably start putting the belt together, as well. Then, time permitting, I'll start finishing the background. At the moment, I see no reason this thing shouldn't be put to bed next week sometime. Until then...


  1. I'm friends with Careless (of Careless Juja) so I've been following these updates when he posts about them on Facebook. You're fantastic! I just looked through your whole portfolio ... gorgeous, especially Ann Bonny. I appreciate a fantasy artist who respects women - there's not enough of that out there, but you do it and do it well. :) Keep it up! I can't wait to see the finished album cover.

    1. Thanks! I'm happy to hear that you appreciate what I've been doing. Comments like this mean a lot.


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