Saturday, April 17, 2010

working on Joyful, Joyful

This week I've had the pleasure of working on Joyful, Joyful, the second painting I've done of this beautiful 90-year-old woman.  This piece is particularly inspiring to paint because of the expression on her face.  May I feel so wonderful when I'm going on 90-years of age!
I've used a different technique in painting this piece.  In the past I haven't paid attention to the type of paint I've used - transparent or opaque.  I've just mixed them according to hue (color), not paying attention to whether they are transparent or not.  This time I categorized my paints specifically according to their transparency and chose to paint only with transparent paints with the exception of white.  I used Flake White rather than my normal Titanium White.  Flake White contains lead and is the white the Old Masters used because it was available.  It has different characteristics than the newer whites.  The most distinctive one I find is that it dries in the jar really quickly so it's hard as heck to get out.  I don't particularly like it, but I'm giving it a try to see what I can learn from using it. 

What I'm liking about this process is that I'm building up the paint in many layers, and no layers is having a huge impact, but each is contributing to the whole in subtle ways.  For example, in this close up of her left side, you can see that she has long lovely wrinkles in her skin as well as some moles.  The light strikes her skin luminously.  It's been a real pleasure to build up the light and incorporate the lines and makes bit by bit.  It takes a light deft touch rather than heavy-handedness and allows me to treat her skin like parchment.  I'm using heavy brushes sometimes and grinding the paint in - not the light touch I just wrote about - but it's good for getting uneven patches of light and dark.  They look natural.  Her legs are a good example of this.  They have a lot of color in them, many variations and modulations.  Using a natural bristle brush I have been able to apply paint strongly, but because it's transparent, no single layer has dominated the passage.  Rather each has built upon the previous one.
I'm going to let the paint that is on the canvas dry for a few days now.  I noticed last night that I was simply smearing off the paint that was already on there when I went to add more.  Not a good thing!  So I'm going to begin on a new canvas today and get back to this one in a week or so once it dries.

FYI, this is the other painting I did of the same woman.  It is 6'x3' approximately.  The new piece is 48"x30" or something like that.  Just about life size where the other one is larger than life size.

1 comment:

  1. Susan, what a beautiful celebration of what's really important in life - joy!