I started this painting in our life drawing session last Thursday night here in Woodstock. We have worked with this beautiful figure model before, and I asked her to hold a longer pose this time so I could add the line of tattooos down her leg. I think I was overly ambitious! I brought a large surface - this is a 24" square piece of masonite that is primed with gesso.
I blocked in the figure first. This was such a great pose - it worked perfectly, from my vantage point - as a square format.
I was using this washes of acrylic paint and a large brush to block in the form and make sure everything was going to fit. My surface was a little too slick. I had applied the gesso with a piece of matt board - smoothing the gesso around the surface like i was applying Venetian plaster. I like the effect, because certain areas of the painting, once stained with the paint, can be sanded away to reveal some cool textures.
You can see some of the texture in this detail. I slowly added some deep reds on top of the blues, defining shadows and form. After the whole figure was defined, I softly added the butterflies. As I was painting, I didn't notice the butterflies at first - I only noticed her figure. But then, after I started to add them in, it was like that's ALL I could see! So I need to be careful as I continue to work on this painting - it's like adding words to a piece - sometimes, the eye only focuses on those pieces and not the whole.
As we finished up our live model session, one of my fellow artists approached the painting and commented that the pillow she is leaning on is actually taking the form of a wing (top right corner) It makes me wonder if I should explore that a little bit....maybe not an OBVIOUS image of a wing, but something more subtle...the young lady told me that the butterflies were signifficant symbols of change and growth (if I remember correctly) and maybe the painting could be indicating that on a different level...I dunno. Sometimes just picking the right color is hard! Maybe the symbolism needs to come out on it's own.
What do you think? See where it takes me? Push the idea of a wing? Paint it hot pink? I'm open to feedback!