Monday, November 24, 2014

Colourful Shadows

Yellow Air Mattress
40 x 30
This subject sparked my imagination though the girl in my photo reference was no more than a graceful silhouette as she headed for the water.  The key was to make the most of her shadowy shape and not get too caught up in the brilliantly-illuminated air mattress.

I started by deciding on a temperature for the light.  It would be cool, so that I could push the warmth of her body to extremes.  I washed in a tone across the figure using oranges and ochres before beginning to model her form with purples and greens.  That way, the foundational warmth would influence all subsequent colours and temperatures.  Over those initial statements, I layered broken colour in both warm and cool.  She couldn't be just warm, or she felt too much like an illustration: lacking depth and complexity.  So she has hot oranges and cooler alizarin-based colours as well as greens and lavenders in her body.

I had to keep her highlights simple and not too dominant or they stole attention from the shadows; our eyes will always go to the light, so I had to downplay that light as much as possible.  You can see that the girl's highlights are based on a pinkish tint, but there is a lot of cool, greenish tint laid over top to neutralize them.  As well, I softened the edges of the lights to ensure that the viewer's eye doesn't get hung up on crisp edges and impasto paint.

Then, to keep the focus on her figure, I simplified the background and made sure that it held the colours of the girl's body, but in lower chroma.  In the photo, the girl was heading across sun-bleached sand into brilliant, cobalt blue water.  The sky was cerulean and vibrant.  If I'd honoured that in the painting, the girl would have been just one high chroma element in many, so I toned them all down for her sake.  This was hard, because a photo tends to make a painter very literal, and I had to put away the photo in order to allow the painting to speak to me and tell me how to proceed.

It's an overcast, cold day here today, with old snow on the ground, but, in the studio, the summer sun is blazing on a carefree girl as she jogs to the water to cool off.  I think I'll stay in the studio with her!

Happy painting!


DLPBR said...

Hi Ingrid, I've been following your blog for sometime and enjoy every post. How I wish you lived close by and could teach me more. Your style and descriptions are so inspiring to me. If you don't get this kind of comment with every post I'd be very surprised. Thank you for taking this much of your time to inspire others. If you every decide to teach online, please let me know. Hope you have the greatest holiday ever.
Sinc, Sue

Ingrid Christensen said...

Thanks, Sue, for the lovely comments. I'm glad my work and my words are inspirations for you.
Requests for online instruction have been frequent lately, so I may have to look into what that entails. I'll keep you posted!

Happy painting!