Work in Progress


Well-known member
Cross-Posted on the thread: "What are you working on?"

I've started work on a new drawing/painting tentatively on the theme of Death and the Maiden... the raven being a harbinger of death... but that theme may change. I've let off work until this evening. It's currently 93 degrees here with high humidity. My studio is upstairs and not air-conditioned. With the multiple floodlights on it's easily 120 degrees+🥵o_O

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I'm spending the time reading the releases from the State Department of Education concerning plans for our return to the classrooms this fall while COVID-19 rages on.:mad::oops:

Beyond that I'm looking at various hairstyles including Rococo braids and ribbons as well as flowers for the current painting.
More like fantasy. And that c*nt, Betsy DeVos has announced that the schools are to open fully in spite of the current situation. The goal has nothing to do with educating children and everything with politics and the desire to make it appear as if things aren't as bad as they are. Right now, Cleveland and the surrounding county are listed at level 3. The State Board of Education and the City are discussing staggered school days (some students coming in the AM and some afternoon) as well as a split between traditional in-school learning and online learning. Ultimately the Feds don't have much to say about the situation as the lion's share of responsibility with regard to education... including funding... has been left up to the individual states.
My paintings almost always evolve slowly as I draw, erase, redraw, erase, etc... until I am satisfied. Often I will use the acrylic paint that I employ for the underpainting to paint out things that are just too difficult to erase. Here, I added a large flower on top of her head which just didn't work at all. When I painted it out I discovered that the paint was satin... and too glossy a surface for the color pencil let alone pastel.


I had to find some of my last bottles of the paint I usually use to paint over this. The store that I have bought from for many years was bought out by a larger national arts & crafts chain, Michaels, that just moth-balled their competitor... that was far better in terms of serious fine art supplies. I'm going to have to now order my paint directly from the manufacturer. Amazon only offers the paint I need through secondary "Marketplace Sellers" who are asking as much as $29 for a 2 oz. bottle that I used to get for 50 cents. The manufacturer is selling the same for 90 cents.o_O


Here you can see how I use the old string method to draw the halos. I also used strings like the blue line used in carpentry when I was employing one-point perspective.


I'm slowly working and reworking the hair to the back of the head and thinking about the background. The raven is a symbol of Athena... as is the olive tree/branch and I am thinking of using that.





The titles and themes of my paintings are always as much works in progress as the paintings themselves.

I've begun laying in the reddish primer that the pastel, acrylic, and gold leaf will go over. I haven't yet fully realized what I'm going to do on the lower right so I've left that alone. I think I need to raise the painting up higher to work on that area as well as the torso. The dark brown/black hair is also a primer coat that I will go over in pastel and color pencil. I won't be working on the hair for a while... but putting down this primer allows me to better see what I am doing.
David, I hope you will take this in the spirit it is meant. Her eye has bothered me ever since you started. You have shaped it like she was looking straight on and have the corner out on the bridge of her nose. I know you are not trying for hyper-realism but seems it should be shaped differently on the inside corner and that corner needs pulled back from the bridge of the nose. Make a quick sketch on something else and see what you think.
Good catch Sno...


Although the model in your reference photo appears to have wider-set eyes (or is her head turned just slightly?) the shape of the eye seen in profile should look more like this...


The sphere of the eye sitting in the eye socket should really block any view of the tear duct on the far side.


She was originally drawn like this... although even then the eye could have be set just slightly further to the right. I've always found profile drawings and paintings slightly problematic in that they can appear excessively flat and lack animation.



Although there is much to admire in these Renaissance portraits (Fra Filippo Lippi and Ghirlandaio) I always found them overly flat because of the rigid profile and profile eyes... a bit like a queen on a playing card. I sought to undermine this by shifting the focus of the eye out of the corner...


But in doing so it also appears that I changed the shape of the eye to something a bit more frontal in appearance:


I might have caught it later when I began working on the face in detail... but you never can tell. Again, good catch. I'll also need to show some of the eyelid and more of a suggestion of the sphere of the eye beneath the lower eyelids before I raise the paper up to work on the lower body.
I think you'll like her better with some slight changes to that eye. ;)


I haven't had a lot of time in the studio over the last few days. We had the plumber out and then I was tied up with a lot of petty business issues that just ate far more time than I'd thought. I finally got back to this WIP... Athena? Or Freyja?... Not sure yet. And I had to deal with the eye... (and I'm still not satisfied with how it looks below... but I'll have more time to deal with that when I really begin to work on rendering the face). Beyond that, I'm still not sure about what I'm doing with the torso, arm, and hair at the bottom/right. So I focused on the halo around her. I'll deal with the bottom of the painting when I raise it higher up on the wall.


The tessellations took some time... and I will need to paint over the vertical and horizontal guidelines because these can show through the pastels... especially the white. I need to do the gold leaf in the trim before I start with the pastel. Here (above) I've laid down the adhesive which will rapidly dry... yet remain tacky enough for the metal leaf.


The gold leaf is the most miserable part of these paintings in the Summer because the fans must all be shut off and the windows closed due to the fact that the slightest breeze can blow the metal leaf away. At this point, it's all adhered and now I need to brush the excess away. The gold will only remain where the adhesive was at.


Considering the fact that I haven't really completed a new painting in a year... and considering I am dealing with a new format and scale... I decided to employ a similar color scheme to the last painting I completed so that I can more rapidly complete this work and really get back into the flow of painting again. The top half of the halo will be gold with some sort of design.


Even the most basis colors are not simply a single color out of the box. I always employ a reddish matte primer that sparkles through across the surface helping to unify the painting as a whole. This technique is rooted in Venetian Renaissance paintings and the common use of colored paper for pastels. There are three blues used in each diamond and three whites. Sometimes I'll use 5 or more colors. From a distance, the colors appear flatter and more polished with a slight vibration... but up close you can see the individual marks which I feel is essential to me.
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I think it would be nice to see her hair remain black. I have noticed that the ladies are often gorgeous redheads, but the black hair really makes the others colours pop. Also, if I remember correctly her right-hand shows slightly, and so I think a nice idea might be to see her clutching one of the same flowers that are in her hair.
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Giving a quick look at the thumbnail files of my paintings I see there are 15 Redheads... but over 40 Brunettes... and only one Blonde. I've avoided blondes for the simple reason that the light, yellowish hair just doesn't contrast enough (for my taste) with the gold leaf halos or other elements that are usually behind the head. In this instance, I just may go with the darker, near-black hair to echo the black raven.