Sisters (Again?)


Well-known member
While finishing up with the last painting I began working on the next one... something I rarely do. I always complete a single painting before moving on to the next. Years ago, I used to work on several paintings at the same time. The problem is that I would become frustrated when one painting hit the "ugly stage" and I'd abandon it and focus on another. During the time I spent working on abstract collages I learned to fight my way through and complete one work before moving on to the next. The shift to pastel and acrylic also helped as I no longer had to wait for a painting to dry.

This was the third painting in a row on the theme of two sisters. I have no pictures of the work in progress until this state. At this point I'm clearly thinking of going with that Flora and Fauna theme again with Flora surrounded by flowers and plants and Fauna in a cat costume.



Again, I initially thought of using brighter, more Pop Art-like colors.


As usual, I work out the patterns and tessellations well before I think of beginning work on rendering the figures due to the fact that I often need to have guidelines cross over the figure(s).


At this point, I dumped the "Flora/Fauna" theme and got rid of the Catgirl costume.


I sanded out and painted over the face and body on the right and then re-drew and re-gilded things.


I brought a darker red and salmon-pink into the background and broke up the smaller halo on the right with a red/white checkerboard. I also used a teal in the guidelines in the patterns to help make these grids "jump".



I listened too much to my former studio mate and decided to avoid the black and white checkerboard down below and went with reds and pinks instead.


At this point, I very much liked the colors and textures in the patterns:



Then I began the figures... always starting with the faces. First I prime the face with a matte acrylic color called "Soft Suede" that is close to the color of the paper. The rest of the painting is primed with a mixture of Burnt Sienna and Tuscan Red.


With the blue in the trim and in the grids, I go with a blue bounced into the flesh-tone and the eyes. Besides... it's a technique used by Peter Paul Rubens, my favorite painter.


I used a warmer orangish color for the bottom layer of the flesh because I felt it needed a good deal of warmth with all the surrounding warm colors.


Then 4 or 5 layers of increasingly lighter flesh tone with a little white in the highlights:



That one eye really screams... and is too big... something I really didn't recognize at the time... but will fix later. I then laid down an under-painting black for the girl's hair on the right:


I began moving down the torso... again bouncing blues into the flesh-tones.


I won't complete the figure on the left until I raise the painting up where I can better access the legs and. When I get down to about the knees I move over to begin working on the face on the right:


I suspect the large eyes are coming from George Tooker, who I was looking at quite a bit then. I quickly render the torso on the right...


I softened the folds in the twisting body and moved down past the butt.


There was something... beyond the eyes... that always looked awkward to me. And then I realized what it was. I had mismeasured when cutting the paper so that one side was 3" or so longer at the bottom than the other side. I also realized that the bottom looked excessively empty because the girls' feet were nearly a foot above the bottom of the painting. I corrected the measurement and cropped off 5 or 6" and thought I was done.


A few weeks later... before I'd begun a new painting... I set about working on the eyes. I also lightened the flesh tones.


I still felt the paintings was top-heavy and realized I shouldn't have listened to my idiot studio-mate. The very dark/black hair above had nothing to balance it below. I decided to put the girl on the right into a black negligee (or is it a one-piece swimsuit?) which balanced the painting a bit more. At that point I was done... and done with the sisters theme... and done with the two standing figures for the foreseeable time being.