Oil on Linen Canvas, 20 x 14 inches
I know what you're thinking...where have I been for 11 days? Well, with a lot of renovations going on around me, it's been rather difficult, and will be for a good while yet, but I managed to get a long-awaited commissioned painting done in the meantime, and have just completed this one from the model again.
Human flesh, or at least skin, is extraordinarily challenging to paint - more so in Oils than in Pastels I find. The incredibly subtle tones of our translucent skin change with every square inch of the surface, making the job of a realist painter like me unbelievably difficult.
Again, this painting was all about comparison - every single tone you put on the canvas changes when the one next to it is placed, and especially so in this piece. The eyes (mine) have to constantly compare, colour to colour, tone to tone, keeping the whole painting going at once, something I always impress in my demos. It's pointless getting bogged down in one place, painting a lot of detail and making it look dead good in isolation, only to find that as soon as you place the adjacent tone down, you find the previously painted passage is too dull, or too bright. Take the model's gown here. Our eyes tell us it is white, but look where it hangs down against the corner of the basket she is sitting on - it appears a slightly yellowy-mauve, much darker than the lit front of the basket, but lighter than the shadowed side of it - interesting eh? And there are lots more incidental lights against darks and vice versa throughout the composition; the lit white edge of the gown against the darker back wall, the darker shadowed back of the gown against the lit side wall, the dark of the model's right heel against the lit carpet and the lighter toes against the shadowed, darker carpet, etc.. It's these observed counterchanges that make the painting lively and interesting...hopefully. I also employed the use of the mirror which I thought gave an interesting pattern, showing the legs crossed the other way round.
I'm submitting this one for the annual Royal Institute of Oil Painter's (ROI) exhibition in London. It's very subjective of course and depends entirely upon who is on the panel of selectors, but I'm hopeful that this might make it to the exhibition as something different from my default subjects.
I'm going to do one more from the model, then more landscapes in case you're all getting restless, thinking I've gone off the rails.........