This was the first exercise of this project, however it was completed after the ‘Telling a Story’ exercise. The reason for me doing this was that the brief for this exercise gave me some interesting ideas and one was to put myself into multiple roles on the same canvas and so I was waiting for a tripod that I ordered.
Then things took a turn while I was doing a photo shoot with the girlfriend for part of the painting I was working on and stumbled upon this almost perfect pose with perfect surroundings and lighting that would help me demonstrate my painting skills and reflect on the previous research point.
At first I fancied painting something with subtle tones along the lines of Gwen John but with this change of circumstances I couldn’t get Hopper out of my brain.
It was late at night and I didn’t want to lose the pose so decided to take a photo and to work from the photo rather from life. The problem was I didn’t want to get back into the habit of producing paintings that were too realistic worrying whether that the painting was as precise as the photograph.
I looked at different techniques that would help me to overcome this and stumbles across the phrase ‘Underpainting’ the technique itself was one that wasn’t new to me and was already one I had thought about using myself but I just didn’t have a name for it, I do now.
I had completed all previous exercises up to now on either Acrylic/Oil specialist paper or backing board prepared with Gesso. The latter warped a lot and to overcome this I painted the back of the board with a thin layer of paint so it would straighten out, the problem I had then was that paintings stick together when storing them away. For this painting I decided to push the boat out and buy a canvas panel which are thin enough and light enough to send off for formal assessment.
I prep’d the canvas panel with Gezzo and then a coat of Burnt Umber a colour which I have begun to use more and more of. From there I begun the underpainting process in mizes of Burnt Umber, Mouse Grey and White.
I loved the completed underpainting so much that I actually thought about leaving it in those tones and cleaning it up to give it more sharper detail as a nod to Gillian Carnegie’s paintings but I decided to push on to add colour and detail.
With the next step I was too thorough and lost one thing that I really liked about the painting in the first step. Although the floor is made up of square ceramic tiles in the first picture you can see that it looks like floor boarding an effect that I would have liked to have kept but in the third photo it looks like a dull carpet, I would have to come back to this and try and recreate that effect.
The skin tones were quite hard to reproduce here and took several pigments mixed together to depict such as yellow, yellow ochre, orange and rose, at times you can see the individual colours that I layered over the top.
I added most of the detail, such as the light on the curtain (impasto), the face and shadows which were too dark and so the next step was to tone down which i would do by painting over them with thin layers of colour namely pink and yellow mixed with white.
By the now I had also repainted the floor which took almost three hours to get it to how I wanted it too look complete with the reflections from the light on the curtains.
I could have left it like this but the table was empty and didn’t look natural at all so from here I would add some of the items that were on the unkept table, a bottle of beer, a half empty glass, glue and some screwed up paper.
The bottle and glass were a challenge, I had never painted detail so small, the earlier Chiaroscuro exercises helped with this, particularly modelling the light around the glass.
My thoughts on the final painting are that overall I thought I had done a pretty good job and it was enhanced by the texture of the canvas panel.
Shadows particularly on the figure are a bit hard, they were any way but they do look a bit harder in the painting, I’m not sure whether I should try and soften the lines up a bit or leave them as they are.
The feet are a bit deformed making them seem smaller, hopefully this wont be a focal point for anyone, I will not continue to mess these up and will leave them as they are,