Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The long and winding road

I know I talked a lot about making mistakes at just about every turn in my post about this piece, but I didn't actually... give examples. In the interest of science, therefore, here's my documentation of the process of the painting itself, with helpful notes on what I was doing, and what I did wrong. It's not so much that I like making my failures public spectacle, than it is how much I value marking my progress down for my own future edification and understanding.

See that face? That, boys and girls, is called 'losing the drawing'. Also, at this point, I had no idea what was going in the wicker ball; also also, I had no real clue what my value structure actually was.

I threw a dead bird in there because it seemed like a good idea, and painted out the eye, and knocked out some more of the orange, and started on the wicker. Can we talk for a second about how absolutely stupid it is to paint front-to-back with something like a wicker ball? Especially since I didn't even have what we'd be seeing through it referenced or drawn. God. 

Well, enough of that horror show: time to repaint the face and deal with that window.

The hair was terrible in shape and feel, and I finally accepted this and started to paint it out to redo at a later time. However, the shape I wound up carving out was right, somehow, and so I stopped.

The face itself still needed work. I also started in on the background, with some better color and value, but still not quite correct on either count.

There, that looks a lot better, doesn't it? At some point in this mess I referenced, drew, and painted in the arm and part of the midsection that one could see through the wicker ball.

I was absolutely and truly furious about the way I'd painted in the hair, so I backed away from it until I could look at it without seething.

When I came back, I decided to avoid the problem areas and work on something I knew I could execute well: hands (and flesh).

I like hands~

Hands, I know I can execute. They require care and proper effort, but I can rely on my own ability and that is a comfort.

Comforts like that are necessary when throwing myself against, say, some deeply uncooperative hair.

Time to step away from the hair again so I can work her clothes up from their first pass, finally. (value structure? what value structure?)

Oh, that value structure. 

Now that I figured that out, time to second-pass the wicker ball, because the flat colors the first time around aren't... okay.

At this point, I liked the face and the hands and hated the rest of the painting. Or, well - I was bored by the rest of the painting, and furious at how long it had taken to get so close to the end, and how at a loss I was for what to do to it to make it interesting.

So, in a fury, I threw pure cadmium red on my 000 brush and went to town.

As it turned out,  it was exactly what I needed.

I did so much wrong, and took the long way around so many times, that it's more than a little frustrating to look back on. But it came out in the end, and what I achieved in spite of myself is something to be proud of - and to learn from.


  1. Man it's actually so fascinating to see your process and how different it was to begin with before you started making your changes.
    Bravo on the effort and wading through all that mess!
    It turned out wonderfully, I think :D

    1. Thank you so much! I think it's important that people realize that the process is ugly and sometimes full of false starts and long detours, because it's so easy to get discouraged as a young artist when all you see is the finished product. I was that young artist!

      Also, I know that I've always loved it when other artists document their process, haha.

      Thanks again <3