If you have not read my previous post about the beginning of this painting I would recommend starting there, for all others who have shown the tenacity to stick with this, read on.
Once the canvas is prepared and the drawing is on the canvas I rough in the basic color for the gown and the body. For the gown I used a combination of 4 different blues mixed with combinations of two earth browns. (I'm trying to not make this all that technical so more than just a serious painter could enjoy it. If anyone has more detailed questions feel free to comment or message me.) The paint is kept rather transparent. I don't want it to get too heavy or dense at this point and allow some of the canvas colors to come through to add a richness and depth. There is some white added to the highlights to create some opacity and the sense of at third dimension. What I'm looking for at this stage is to give a basic sense of flow and shape to the gown. I want to make it feel as if it is flowing in a rough sense and to give it the basic color such as blue and not red or green. I use this time to rough in the basic shadow and highlight patterns but don't want to get too detailed because it would lock me into something I may want to change later.
Although I have never really seen this gown I'm assuming or deciding it is all silk. It should be. [grin] So part of the challenge of painting is to also give the viewer a physical sense of how the fabric will feel, and for that matter the same is true of the skin. Just don't touch when you see it in a museum. [grin]
From what I can get by the photo there is a second or third fabric piece or colors. I'm going for a sort of see through silver. The decoration on the fabric is just hinted at with this stage.
As for the skin, I make this very simple. I use a semi-opaque mixture of white with some red and blue and yellow to give a variation to some cools and warms out of the shadows and just the more pure white with a touch of red to the highlights. The shadows or muscle structure are kept more transparent with the highlights more opaque again. This again, is just rough in both color or detail. I don't want to lock myself in with anything except to define the basic structure of the body. The face is left pretty much alone. I define the basics of placement of the eyes and mouth and just a hint of the bone structure but that is all at this point.
Her hair is just roughed in with a combination of dark blue and a deep red earth tone. From the photo I see only a black shapeless form for the hair but I know it is very soft, thick and lovely. I love painting hair second only to a woman's skin. I will work it in more detail later but now it is just mostly a transparent dark blob. I'll make up highlights and shape when I go back to it. I feel sure she has some deep reddish highlights in there somewhere. It is wonderful she has such thick and long dark hair. That is so in keeping with the origins of belly dancing from the Middle East.
Now what about the background? Yeah, what about it. If I knew what I was going to do that would be done next and will be when I figure it out. I was originally going to make it a very dark blue black with a little lighter area near the bottom to indicate ground. However, after looking at it more I decided to make it into a real place. At least a real place out of my head. What I want is the sense of an old Arabian place. Some place a sheik might sit and watch is dancers perform for him. The thing is, I don't want to see much of it or have it interfere with the beautiful dancer. The way other artists of old have done this and Da Vinci was well known for it, is to do what is called a grisaille. This is a monochrome, (one color) painting or nearly one color usually in shades of grey or brown, particularly used to represent objects in relief without making them so vivid or detailed as to distract the viewer from the main subject. If you look at some of Leonardo's paintings you will see much of his backgrounds are done this way and sometimes you have to look twice because even if you have seen the paintings many times you realize the background was there but you never really noticed it. It does help to give depth and context to the subject. For mine it will be very dark and probably hard to see in images put up here.
I'll explain more about this when it is done and I post it here. For now, it is into the books looking for images of old palaces. Then, back to the drawing board, as they say.
This has been rather technical and I'm sure a bit of a "Who Cares" to many. Some people only want to see the final product and others only care about why did you paint it and what do you know about her. Well, I am painting for the reasons I stated in the last post, basically it is a very beautiful woman in a great pose, in a great gown doing beautiful things. Why wouldn't I want to paint it. What do I know about her, well, not much. I will have to ask her, (I keep forgetting to) if I can put a link to her myspace page here so you can see other photos and see just how lovely she is. I can also tell you she is happily married and has two little boys so guys, don't get your hopes up. [grin]
One thing about how painting feels for me. I am not able to paint all the time. This past week I had to spend much of my time printing and framing prints of my work for people who see my paintings either on line or in person and say they like them and wish they could have one but can't afford the originals. Hence, prints. I am also expanding in that area but that is a lot of work and time. Even though I would rather do the framing all day than one hour back in an office or ever having a boss it isn't painting. When I get a little crazy, yes, I've been known to get a bit more than a little. I just have to paint. Three hours at an easel and even if it is not going all that great but where I can be alone and concentrate I am so much better. I can end a simple three hour or nine hour painting session tired but feeling so fulfilled. When I'm at the easel it is as if I'm home. I have been paintings as a professional since 1980. That is 28 years for all those without their GED. [grin] It has felt like a warm old pair of shoes for all that time. It does get nuts at times and I do get down and then up and then down again but it is all good, even the worst.
Mostly I paint alone or there may be a model here with me but even then I have a very private and alone feeling. Alone is very good. Yes, I enjoy some friends and always enjoy the company of a beautiful woman but I want to select those times at my choice. The rest should be alone. I listen to either Dylan, old blues or some old R&B or it is all classical and opera for music. I'm looking for some other as I paint the dancer. For now, Mozart is working. [grin] I'm very focused while I paint but with that alone time I also have time to let my head wander around and to some extent it is a form of meditation. The world falls into place when I'm there. With that time I'm able to put into perspective everything in human history from the cave paintings in France to the graffiti on the buildings of an inner city.
When I paint a woman, such as my beautiful dancer, I'm able to go back over the far too many women I have known and to sort of revel in the wonders of women. To go over my mistakes and my pleasure. Each painting is a sort of religious experience for me as an offering to the gods of my interpretation, love and respect of all women.