Saturday, February 13, 2016

Reckless Abandon

We've been in Colorado for over eight months now, and since we only live one mile from my twin sister, she and I trade babies off and on so that each of us can get some time to ourselves. It's a perfect system, really. BONUS: I now have another young model to paint.

One day while I was watching Emily's daughter Ansley, I got out some finger paints. My own daughter was very apprehensive about them, and as soon as she got her hands dirty, she immediately held them out to me and whined for me to clean them off! Ansley, however, dove in with reckless abandon and loved every second of the beautiful mess!

Thus, this painting was inspired. I just finished it a couple of days ago, and I'll share here a bit of the process that went into it.

Since my time at the easel is usually broken up and I don't get a lot of long stretches to paint anymore, this painting took me quite a while. I worked from several photo references, making sure to correct any lens distortion or issues with perspective before I began. I also had to be careful with my color choices in the skin, because my reference photos were completely unreliable in that area. I had to depend on my memory of painting skin tones from life in order to pull this painting off.  I also carefully arranged the pages, paint splotches, and cups in a way that would lead the eye into the composition.

Above: An early stage in the painting. I enjoyed working with my brand new ParallelPALETTE, which works great for seeing your color mixtures and canvas in the exact same light.

In the beginning I wasn't sure what to do with the background. I thought it would be interesting if Ansley's actual hand prints were in there, giving it both a whimsical and personal touch.

So a couple of days ago, I had Ansley put the "finishing touches" on the piece. We used water-soluble oils, which I brushed onto her hands. Then I carefully pushed her hands down onto the canvas in a few strategic areas.

However, as you can see in the image below, Ansley's hand prints were disproportionate in size to the portrait of her, which is under life size. By placing the prints in the background, they looked way too big - almost adult size. So I opted to just leave a few of her prints in the foreground (you can especially see the blue one, bottom right) and simplify the background completely.

Above: The painting with Ansley's hand prints.

Detail shots

Below: the final version. I'm very happy with my decision to keep it simple. Ultimately, a painting has to stand on its own with a strong design and a balance of color harmony. Sentiment is important, but in order of priorities, it must come last.  While I'm sad that I had to get rid of most of Ansley's "contribution" to the painting, she sure had fun doing it - so no regrets.

"Reckless Abandon"
24 x 18"
Oil on linen


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