Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Dancing on Light

For me a painting usually begins with a doodle or an idea. I take photographs for reference only after the idea is fleshed out. For "Dancing on Light" that process was reversed. I had a supplemental shot of my model touching her toes to a studio light. Something about the shot struck me. She looked as though she was dancing. I could picture her as a faery lit from below. However the visual image of a moth flying around a porch light was blinding me from coming up with a more attractive concept. I awoke one morning with the idea that she'd be landing on a rose that was it's own light source. It didn't make any sense but then an 8 inch tall girl with wings and antenna didn't either. I went to the hobby shop and bought some silk roses then went next door to the hardware store and bought a battery, a flashlight bulb and wire. I set it all up in my studio and shot my reference photos. The last faery I painted had leg markings that looked a bit cat-like. I wanted to do something more reptilian. I ran across some great shots of Copperhead snakes on the Internet. I took the photo of my model into photoshop and on a multiply layer, I drew the patterns onto her legs and hips.
After burnishing my drawing onto a wood panel with canvas stretched over it I layed in my darks with a burnt umber and turpentine wash. I then blocked in a wash of color. The basic color scheme was, complimentary colors, ultramarine blue and cadmium orange. There are other colors but that was the main scheme. I treated the lit up rose like a candle or small fire at night. Warm foreground with a warm glow around the light source with a cool background. My thought with the background was that the sun had gone down, you could still see the clouds in the sky against the silhouetted tree line. I took a series of out of focus photos at dusk to make sure my colors were correct. 
After painting the background I painted the roses going from the farthest back to the closest to the viewer. After the roses dried I layed down a series of thin washes to create the glow. Next I painted the wings since they were behind the figure. After that it was a matter of painting the figure and deciding what overlapped what. I painted her left leg, her right, and torso. Then the forearms, hands, face and hair. The hair seemed to disappear into the darkness so I added the flowers to help define the shape of the hair.