April – A Journey

I feel like this may be a fast one … somehow it just feels fast.

A week or so ago I decided to experiment with listening to Clive Barker while I draw, to see what pops out.  If any of you have not heard of Clive Barker he’s the guy who wrote the short story the movie Hellraiser was based on .. that’s probably his most well known work although absolutely not his best.

So I’m listening to ‘Sacrament’ and drawing and this lady shows up.  I named her ‘April’ because that’s what month we are in and there are flowers involved which are spring ish?  I dunno, I got ‘naming lazy’.

Anyhoo, I decided to try this one on a much smaller canvas.  Generally I work in 18x24in or 30x40in and this time I went for a 9×12, which is exactly the size of the paper I drew her on.  It’s very very odd to paint at the same scale as I draw!  Detail is a real challenge.

I didn’t have a background prepped for this one so I decided to just wing it, get the sketch on there with the Acrylic paint markers and then just dive in.  I’m generally a little more prepared but this pretty well feels experimental from start to finish, so I just play.

Ideally I would have started with the background and then added the rose and the abdominal reds .. but NOOOO, I got all excited about the red and did the rose before the background, which means I will need to go back in to shore up the lines there, I also didn’t wait for anything to dry but did this in one sitting and that’s awfully fun, if a little scary as the wet areas of the rose and the background started to meet.

For the red I used Permanent Alazarin Crimson as a base and then shaded with Indiana Red (which is much darker than the paint on the palette appears, magic).  I then came through to strengthen the shading with some Prussian Blue.  It’s still not as intense as I’d like and the contrast (in the rose particularly) will be adjusted in the next round).  

For the background I dotted some Dioxazine Blue on the canvas and then mixed up some Raw Umber and Zinc White … I used my palette knife to smoosh and scrape them about, then a gloved finger to move it into a less rigid combo on the canvas.  Once I had the bulk of the area covered I used a smallish brush (I really need to learn brush size and shape names so I can better describe which I’m using) and some linseed oil to drag and move the paints into a smoother pattern and get in closer to the main figure.  

It all happened so quickly (maybe two hours) by removing the drying time between elements.  I’m enjoying that and thinking I may get go back in today to do some more.  There is some interaction with the paints as they merge that is surprising and interesting and makes the transitions challenging and also smoother and more pleasant.  

Coming from a background in drawing with pens I’m very very accustomed to a precise and hard transition, but painting offers some smoothing options I’ve not really explored before.  So this is an experiment … and pretty well delightful.


Well here I am, painting yellow boobs.

They aren’t a pure yellow, but  combo of Cadmium Yellow Pale and Sap Green.  I’m still not entirely sure what color I want her flesh to be, but I am enjoying the notion of a yellowish body and how it contrasts so nicely with the red of the abdomen and the rose.  No matter how I decide to go, a base of yellow is solid for most skin tones so it seemed a safe place to start.  I used Burnt Umber for shading and it was all so quick and easy!  The colors I chose are all translucents so the marker marks show through in places.  Initially I was miffed at that, but the more I look at it the more I see the possibilities for future endeavors.

I decided to let the yellow sit for a bit while I mulled how I wanted to proceed.  In the end I decided to simply strengthen the shading of the yellow with more Raw Umber.  For consistency I used the Sap Green again on the foliage and Prussian Blue to shade (as I did in the abdomen).  I have a theory that if I stick with the same colors for shading and hues and such throughout it may build some cohesiveness to a piece.  I have no idea if that’s the case or not but the consistency pleases the same part of me that likes to match socks.

I did a small amount of Cadmium Yellow (regular not pale) to highlight the rose and build some more dimension there.  This is also a translucent color so it does really marvelous things overtop darker hues.  

One thing I did notice is how I, without thinking much about it, ended up creating a harder line between the figure and the background with my shading.  Apparently the smudginess that was delivered by the wet on wet approach was something I simply could not tolerate.  So far, I’m super pleased with how this one is going.  The shading on the lower abdomen and the roundness and dimension created there really just tickle the shit out of me.  I’m not sure of next steps, she feels close to done.  There are some areas to strengthen and clean up (yellow stretches over abdominal red and the top of the rose for starters) but I feel like the main image and idea are pretty well there.  

So satisfying.

–UPDATE 07/05/2021

Aaaaand, she’s done.  I’d let her linger for a long time, wondering if she wanted more … and there are some highlights and some shadow strengthening that happened here since the last update, but really… she was happy and feels good.

And that’s how we know it’s done.

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