Saturday, 28 June 2014

She must be a Contortionist!!

I have had this photo for a while (Freda Austin Nichols on PMP) and have kept looking at it wondering how to go about it and decided to have a try this afternoon. I wanted to stick to the wet in wet process but this caused me some difficulty as there were certain things I wanted to capture in this image, mainly the light (or dark) and I found I was keeping most of the edges as they all seemed to have a purpose which in my mind enhanced the painting... it may be that in the future I will try a completely different approach, but a more literal one seemed the way forward for this particular piece...

As always I used a limited palette

Prussian blue
Aliz Crimson
Burnt sienna
Raw Sienna

This palette seems to be one I am using a lot at the moment, unless I am doing flowers,  I do like the way both blues interact with Burnt Sienna and I find the addition of Aliz Crimson and Raw Sienna make for a more colourful feel.

I did a drawing first, as you can see it is not a pose many of us could ever have struck or even contemplated so I wasn't at all convinced I would get it right without some guidelines!! I do love ballerinas and enjoy painting them and the wet in wet approach seems to really suit them.

When I thought this might be finished and I looked at it for a while, I decided maybe, wrongly that it needed some shafts of light from the left... now I am not sure about them but I still prefer with than without

When you work with the paper so wet, it is very difficult getting the timing right and I am finding I am going in too soon... the paper was still very damp after about 45 minutes this afternoon and as I wanted to add some harder edges, I eventually dried it with the hairdryer. This degree of wetness isn't like just doing a sky wet in wet and dropping some paint in, the whole paper is sopping wet and water and paint dribble from it. I wet the front, back then front again as if I was preparing the paper for stretching and then of course more water is added as I start to apply the paint. How wet the paper is, determines what concentration of paint you need to use, depending on what effect you want to achieve... if that makes sense!! Those of you who follow my blog will know that I am trying to understand how this works and put it into words so that I can eventually teach it. At the moment I rely on having a "feel" for when is the right time to go in but that isn't something I can easily convey to other people so a bit of understanding of exactly what is happening needs to crystallize in my head happen so that I can explain it... phew!!!

In the meantime here is another wet in wet I did a few days ago from  photo by Rob on PMP, another atmospheric piece with the same palette and an intent of capturing light. I went in far too much before the paper was dry enough so the paint kept bleeding into areas I wanted to keep sharp and even though at this stage lifting out is still possible it sets the painting back and of course means you are working on it unnecessarily... never a good thing!!

I think this needs a bit more blending of the bg both into the yellow area to the left and into the water as I feel there is too strong a division between the bg and the water but that is easily done and in actual fact only became clear as I viewed it here!! Amazing what becomes so obvious when you see on the screen!!


  1. Oh I love both pieces so much! The ballerina looks like she is beaming those lights from within - like they are just bursting out of her, could be a scene from a fantasy film. And the bottom one makes me think of the Northern Lights. Really love the different effects you have got from the same palette.

  2. The beams of light are a nice directional tool. I particularly like the second painting. Like the dark against light aspect of it.

  3. it does look like she is in the limelight from lots of stage lights but when I first looked it appeared that she was almost breathing fire!


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