Flour part 2.
Updated: Nov 26, 2020
Welcome to the second part of 'Flour'. I have finally been able to get back to this painting after five dedicated months of working towards a solo show. This second part focus's on adding colour and composition - basically bringing the painting to life.
I wanted to start with the skin tones first to bring some warmth into the painting.
Once I established a palette for her skin tone and hair I could then look towards the elements needed to add to her story. [ you can see palette colours in Part 1. of Flour]
I have mentioned before that I have a loose impression in my mind of how I want the painting to look but this is as much based on a 'feeling' or a mixed bag of ideas. These ideas settle as the painting progresses.
Even though our kitchen wasn't finished I brought the painting in and propped it up against the wall so I could see her in the right environment. I then grabbed all 'my props' and placed them around the base of the painting. I won't use all of these but I was really just trying to see what might work...there was a lot of squinting through half lids trying to see without seeing ...if that makes sense!
I also like to lay down the canvas and put objects on it...and again stand back and squint...
Below you can see where I have placed a wooden spoon - so far the only object of all my squinting that made the first cut. Next steps will be building up the hands and fabrics.
April 20th, 2020.
Since my last post Covid 19 happened. This has, like everyone, affected my world in many ways. I have been spending a lot of time with my lovely family, home schooling, gardening and general home handy woman stuff [ finishing off renovations], listening to podcasts, binge watching 'Buffy The Vampire slayer' - plus painting.... and wondering what the future will bring for the arts. This painting 'Flour' has become more relevant to me than ever. I have, as many have, been spending a lot more time baking bread, making brioches, desserts and pizza dough. I was given a new baking book at Christmas called 'Magnolia Kitchen' a book from the cafe of the same name based in Auckland. The brioche hot cross buns are amazing.
Flour has been hard to get and luckily I already had a bit of a stash as we use it a lot in my house.
Lately a lot of thought has gone into what is 'essential' to each of us as we navigate through this. Basic food ingredients are definitely up there. I want to try and channel this time into 'Flour' in a positive way...it's beginning to feel slightly over used but getting back to basics, appreciating what we have and looking after it seems very relevant at this time.
Ok back to painting.
You will see some development since the above post with more colour [ I owe this addition of blue to watching the latest 'Little Woman' movie and falling in love with a blue skirt worn by Amy in her studio scene].
These influential tangents can be good...and time consuming but none the less they happen and should be explored.
I have also added the bench edge with the handle of a pan [ you can see this pan is in a photo above]. I felt like the painting needed some deeper browns as contrast.
I have also been working on her face and bringing her character to life. At the moment I am using quite a lot of greens in my skin tone which when mixed with crimsons, reds and a bit of white gives a lovely warm colour. I need to resolve the blue apron/skirt after my 'Little Woman' moment... great movie though with the most beautiful aesthetics.
Left - my reference for the bench [photograph taken at a Pizza bar in Port Chalmers].
Below is a photo I took over the weekend which shows a more accurate representation of both colour and light.
I haven't paid much attention to her hair yet as I actually like where its at and I think it will be something I look at later on as a finishing piece.
Right - a detail of the left hand. Plus you can see the bench photographed above makes its debut. I have found the hands very challenging in this painting as the model reference I had wasn't as good as it should have been. The hands had flour on them which masked the tonal detail that I needed plus the photos of the hands didn't have enough light and therefore detail.
Below you can see I have added another element. I often work this way - building on the exisiting compostion to provide balance, contrast and detail.
This iron spoon will be quite dark - something I felt was needed once I had created the shadow underneath the bench
Below you can see I have worked on her hair and added more definition to her face. I think looking at the two images side by side I have both gained and lost something. I like the softness of her face in the above image but part of bringing her hair around her face was a nod to the experience when baking that when your hands are covered in dough that is when you have an annoying stand of hair that tickles your nose and covers your eyes.
Also after much deliberating I added apples to the bowl. I initially wanted to put dough in there but due to the lack of 'flour' at the time I did this i decided to address that and instead have a lack of flour. i also felt like the painting needed something - a splash of colour. We make a lot of apple tarts in this house as it is my son's favourite dessert.
Below - a few weeks on and I have toned down the warmth in her skin with my favourite paint 'Transparent White'. Mixed with a bit of black it has a great cooling effect and can knock back 'when warm goes brown/muddy'. I also decided to add more cool white to the background. Because I was getting close to finishing I decided to take it into the framers/ gallery to choose something. I totally underestimated how important this was.
Once I had chosen the perfect frame [ see left ] it actually highlighted a few issues within the work. Seeing it in a different environment, with the frame made the background appear 'muddy'. It was a great exercise actually and one I will do again. I get so used to seeing my work in the same space that I miss the big picture. It is well worth while stepping back from time to time.
I also worked on the apples from reference photos and added an olive branch. I wasn't sure about the tension between the leaf and her shoulder but decided to leave it.
So below you can see the finished painting. Due to suddenly deciding it should be sent to Auckland, to be part of OREXART's group show celebrating their brand new gallery space, I had to put in a marathon effort to get all the little details up to scratch...things like strands of hair, highlights and shadows and floral fabric trim.