09 November 2007

siena mirror

Arches CP 300 gsm, 14" x 10".

i mentioned that some paintings in a group are laggards and take much longer to finish than their litter mates. this one was a barnburner (as nick would say) and completely occupied me for three days.

it started as a color study for a much larger (42" x 29") piece. to my surprise, it fell together like a chess game, starting with the foliage in the back window and ending with the figure's hair. there were no misjudgments or in flight emergencies. i learned a lot from painting it.

mirror plus female nude is the pretext of the "venus at her toilette" painting iconography. there are standard variations that depend on how the gaze of venus and any spectators (real or implied) are arranged. in my image the woman looks at herself, the "vanitas" theme.

in his book on the nude, kenneth clark says that the face is the keynote of the nude, and here the face is a cameo reflection. the intent gaze is how geneva approaches a mirror. to the greeks, the gods were egotists: venus admires her own beauty more than any mortal.

there is a lot of "design" in this image but it is in the luck of the moment. the odd alignments (hair to hair, arm to arm, hand to knee, breast to elbow), the almost dancelike flow, the crosscutting perspective, the edge silhouetting of the foreground figure are in the photo, but weren't part of the process. in the next snap siena lowers her right arm to her side and balances on both feet, and that destroys the flow and intensity.

the color is governed by two kinds of light, from the back window and from a window off image to the right. two kinds of flesh mixture were used, the reflection anchored in cobalt violet to give it a shimmering, specular quality, and the figure anchored in chromium oxide green, which mixes into a warm, chocolate & milk texture that reads just like skin.


Nick said...

One of your very best Bruce!! Holy smokes, that is a killer, love the comp, love the hair, and especially love the whole backside. You did Geneva (and watercolor) proud!

W. K. Moore said...

First thing that comes to mind is what a great body this woman has. Next is the artist's skill that has caused the initial reaction. You are using the "in-person" resource to an effective end result. I am enjoying your work and this one in particular.