I started drawing with black watercolor pencils. I defined shapes and shadows, and then used a wet brush to move the pigment around, adding extra water and either letting it drip or dry flat to make pools.
When I was happy with that layer, I applied a thin, semi transparent layer of a mix of media (modeling paste and a clear matte glaze) over the whole piece so that I could use a charcoal pencil on top of the watercolor. Because it is clayboard, and design to allow you to scratch the surface, I had to either embrace or fight that characteristic of the board.
In some place I used a nail, or an exacto knife, and even some sandpaper to carve out areas of light. Then I would go back in with my charcoal pencil and re-define the shadows.
Another layer of medium on top, and then I applied some acrylic paint to a few places where I wanted the highlights stronger or the shadows deeper.
I think I'm about 90% finished. I want to make the background a bit darker, and fix her hand, which still feels rather glove-like. I'm really pleased with the male figure - I'm trying not to let myself make any more adjustments on him.
While I was working on this, I kept thinking about what this piece says about this couple's relationship (not implying they are a couple in real life...they are a couple in the Art). Is she taking advantage of him? Crushing him? Is he defeated? Or is he showing incredible strength and masculinity by supporting this woman? I couldn't help but think the relationship could read completely different if her head was turned away, or her hand rested on his shoulder, rather than above her head. I want to re-do this piece about 10 times, making ever so subtle adjustments to the little features, seeing how their relationship changes.
What do you think their relationship is? Why is he in this pose, is he helping her? Is she hurting him? Are they happy?