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. 



  1. Incredible...thanks for posting.

  2. It is fascinating to see the evolution of one of your pieces. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Fred, great to see your work. Hope to see you soon. Remember the c.a.c.a. party at your Dads? Elk,Elk,Elk. Ttyl

  4. Fred, great to see your work. Hope to see you soon. Remember the c.a.c.a. party at your Dads? Elk,Elk,Elk. Ttyl