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I have no WIP photographs from my next painting. I think this is due to the fact that I was working on this painting so rapidly. In spite of the fact that most of my paintings require 100 to 200 hours of labor, I finished Ishtar completely over Christmas break after finishing Tropical Eve.

I began the painting with the thought of staying with the "Eve" theme... and looked a bit more for inspiration at images of Eve and the Serpent. My folder from that time on the theme of "Eve" is loaded with hundreds of photographs and paintings of Eve (or the Nude) and snakes.



I was also looking a good deal at the German Renaissance/Mannerist painter, Lucas Cranach. His paintings of Eve and other nudes are shockingly explicit when one considers the era and the audience that he worked for.




I was also looking quite a bit at the paintings of the ancient Minoans which inspired my choice of a color scheme. The choice of a predominantly red painting followed the previous painting that was mostly cool blues and Autumn-inspired earth tones.





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While working on this painting I stumbled on the "snake dance" scene from the cheesy film by Fritz Lang: The Indian Tomb:

This, along with several other short videos of "exotic" dances led me to look more at Non-Western sources related to the idea of the woman and serpent(s). Among the ones that had the largest influence on me were the Minoan Snake Goddess:


The Indian Snake Goddess:


... and the Mesopotamian goddess, Ishtar... that would become the theme/title of the painting.


Ishtar was the Goddess of Love, Beauty, & Sex as well as War and Power. She was the Queen of the Night and is seen with the twin serpents of the Caduceus... a symbol of healing. She is a precursor to the Egyptian Goddess, Isis... as well as the Greco-Roman Aphrodite/Venus and Athena/Diana.

All of these various sources fueled my work on this painting including the somewhat Asiatic features.







While this painting built on many of the elements of the previous one, there were a number of key differences including not only the color scheme but also the return to the use of pastel for rendering the flesh. I started with the use of color pencil and pastel pencil... but felt these weren't bold enough to hold their own in contrast to the strong colors of the background. This remains one of my personal favorites... along with Autumn Eve.
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For some reason. this one seems to project a stronger presence than your others that I've seen.

The amount of effort is truly impressive, but must be the source of great satisfaction when it works out the way you want. How about hiring a couple of monks to illuminate the halos and backgrounds.:)
The paper looks like your common butcher block paper but it is much heavier. It can handle layers of acrylic without buckling or warping, and it can take lots of "abuse" such as repeated erasures. It also has a decent tooth. After working on this paper for a while when I first moved to the large-scale pastels, I made sure to prime the paper with the same matte acrylics which gave it an even greater tooth and allowed for further erasures and other corrections. If/when I run out of this paper and switch over to the much more expensive print or watercolor paper I'll need to purchase it by the roll in order to get the scale I am after... and yet I'm not sure how much the quality of the paper will show as the surface will still be covered in the acrylic primer.