Thursday, April 19, 2012

a prayer for my people: closing in on a finish

as i assessed the status of things this morning i knew that i couldn't put off the large wash on her near cheek/neck area any longer. i had been having trepidation about this ever since i decided to do a larger portrait. so i loaded up a #12 round sable brush a with a reddish mixture of my flesh colors (cadmium red light, yellow ochre, and cerulean blue) and put it down along the darkest areas under her zygoma and in front of her ear. from there i blended it into the already applied dry paint at her temple, side of nose, hair, and carried it down toward her jawline until i ran out of paint. its a little irregular but i think it will do. these larger washes always give me fits as i just don't have the technique to get them down smoothly. less tilt to the easel (i have it at 75-80 degrees right now) might help. also, i have noticed that yellow ochre misbehaves in mixes pretty frequently. it often kind of granulating on the paper in irregular, darker value splotches, some of which you can see near the temple area. all in all it came out okay...."better than i thought but worse than i hoped." aside for this i added some crescent darks along the wing of her nose where it meets her cheek, between the gap in her lips, nostrils, shadow where her t-shirt meets her neck under her chin, etc. i usually wait till last to do this so i have no logical explanation for why i did it now except that it felt like a good time????? lastly i will say that up until now i was going to leave the background almost devoid of paint, i.e. white paper, but i have been having second thoughts about this. to add a more spiritual note i have been thinking about adding some eagle feathers over on the left side of the painting. there is probably nothing more sacred to the lakhota than eagle feathers and given the title of the piece i thought that they would be apropos. one can see where i drew them in along the left side.

penultimate stages of "a prayer for my people"
the only way to really know if this is going to work is to just "bite the bullet" and do it knowing that disaster could quite easily ensue. i took the same large #12 round kolinski brush and put in a dark wash above her head/hair on the top right side of the painting using burnt umber and brown madder being careful to respect the border with her hair and maintain some "lost" feeling to that edge. i also scraped in some hair strands with the palette knife as the wash dried enough to start losing its sheen. i carried that thought over the rest of the top of paper adding some quinacridone gold and ultramarine blue in places. i wanted the feathers to be very loose and used splotches of pure color (cerulean blue, brown madder, burnt umber) in more or less feather shapes and lost more edges than i found in the area. now looking at the result i certainly don't think that it was disaster. whether it is better or just different than i had originally planned, i am unsure. all that is left is to adjust a few edges, interlock some shapes that are a little boring, like the almost rectangular white shape next to her far cheek, and finish what i am going to do on her t-shirt.

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