12 September 2007


Strathmore bristol, 300gsm, 30" x 22". 3.5 hours.

this is one of the life drawings of rachel. i normally draw on quarter sheet (14" x 10") watercolor blocks, various brands, then refine the drawing from the photo of the pose and paint from there.

instead i drew on the bristol with charcoal and have not altered the drawing at all. it captures a different aspect of rachel's presence ... compared with other images of her. again, i wanted her on a large format for some reason ... it doesn't feel right to squeeze her into anything smaller. i've even considered painting her on double elephant sheets.

i should have left this as a drawing: once i started painting on it i remembered it was the laminated bristol that bubbles and warps once it is wetted (see aug. 6). but i went ahead anyway. as i knew the paper wouldn't hold up well i put the minimum effort into finishing the piece, and used it primarily as a color study -- purple and green.

the hair is a mixture of paint sludge from a half dozen mixing wells, pooled as part of clean up. red and yellow were used to push the hue around to indicate some of the color variety in her hair. background is dioxazine violet, puddled for texture, and viridian. the chemise is ultramarine blue -- a difficult color to photograph accurately.

in certain poses rachel gets a kind of serenity in her expression that is really remarkable. she is not a physically tall or overweight woman but there is a subtle force to her presence that only a large image seems adequate to capture.


W. K. Moore said...

Bruce - if I remember correctly bristol is not water media friendly as you just explained here. I tried once and did not get as far as you did with a finished piece. I remember the bubbling and warping and at the time made the mistake of thinking all illustration board was just as bad. I love to paint on Strathmore 500 vellum finish.. a real treat - Acrylic or watercolor. As I write this I can see at the bottom the last portrait of Rachel.. For me this is a real knock-out. Jumping back to paint again.. there is this acrylic called Cartoon Color. It is the best in my opinion for application on paper. And you can can get some nice transparent washes with it. They say it is lightfast.. maybe you can keep them honest at some point even though this is a watercolor site. Meanwhile I'm enjoying your Rachel series..

Nick said...

Every picture has its perfect size. I like the prussian (or whatever it is) halo... that brushwork on the shirt is perfect for the shapes and angular attitude.