|Oil on gessoed illustration board, 12.5"x23"|
For those unaware, the first sketch of this was actually done back in November, as part of my drawing-a-day project. It was just the lady, no composition or environment, but something about that drawing sang: everyone who looked through the book stopped at that page, and I had more than one person tell me to please take it where it needed to go.
And then Jon Schindehette posted the Nymph ArtOrder challenge, and I knew I had a piece.
Everything about this clicked. It is the right drawing, the right palette, the right shape. The reference was right. The color study was right. Every time I sat down to paint at it, it was right. It is most certainly not a perfect painting - I feel a little like I got it to 95% and stopped, which kills me - but I can't emphasize the surreality of feeling a painting like this flowing through me.
This has happened before, but because it's out of my control, it feels that every moment could be the last in which I know how to go forward. After one such moment of fear, though, I sat back and realized that I knew how to paint this. I'd challenged myself with the long composition and large negative space, with the extremely limited palette (cadmium orange, viridian, burnt umber, titanium white, ivory black), with the foreground content and detail, and everywhere I looked, I knew what to do.
It's only really hit me in the last few months that I could consider myself a good artist without the gods striking me down for gross hubris. This past Illuxcon was a big part of that, but there's been that insidious voice in the back of my head that it's a fluke, that Tristan and Isolde was an IMC Miracle - and this painting did a lot to still it. For all that it ran from my hand onto the board like water, for all that I felt like I wasn't in control of the process, this is a painting that I'm as good as. (As opposed to Tristan and Isolde, which I called a 'future painting' at the time because my skills were not actually on its level as I painted it.)
So here's Riverdaughter. It feels good to have it out of my head, a real painting which I can look at and be proud of, a new piece to grow my recently purged portfolio - and a big ol' screw you to that awful part of me which still whispers that I'm not very good.
I painted this: it is mine, and there will be more.