Friday, April 25, 2014

Faking It

Have you ever, you know, faked it? No, I'm not talking about *that* kind of faking.  But I did fake a large portion of the painting I'm about to show you.  I started this portrait months ago and from the beginning it was not easy.  However, I did have a lovely model so I was determined to make it work.

I started as I usually do,  just getting the placement down and then blocking in the shadows and color.  The problems started when I got to the second sitting.

Some parts of the painting were coming along fine, but others were a mess.  The most difficult part proved to be the hands and the arms.  There was a lot of foreshortening going on with the left arm and I just could not get it right.  Not to mention the hands.  Hands are my nemesis.  It is so hard to paint them correctly.  As time went on I began referring to them as the lobster claws.

As time went on, I became happier with the painting, but overall it just was not working.  My problem was that I was very happy with it from the waist up, so I did not want to paint over it.  I leaned it up against the wall in my studio and went on to other things.

At one point I realized that I was not thrilled with the dress she was wearing.  It was lovely but just did not translate well in the painting.  One day I just put the painting on the easel and painted out the arms of the dress so instead of being form fitting like they really were, they now looked large and flowing.  I also painted out the left hand (definitely the more "lobster claw" of the two).  I had no idea what I was going to do in place of it, but it had to go.

I then forgot about the painting until this week.  I'm currently working on two still life paintings and I am in grape hell with both of them.  After spending days painting and repainting grapes I just could not do it again.  I happened to look over at the painting and the thought popped into my head that if she were holding a bouquet of flowers it would solve a lot of my problems.

Of course, since I had not planned on doing this I did not have a bouquet of flowers available (or a model), hence the faking it.

I just started painting flowers in different colors to form a bouquet.  It was actually pretty easy.  I just used a shadow color, a mid tone and a light.  I did this until it looked large enough to be a bouquet.  Then I painted in the white wrapping paper that is usually used to wrap bunches of flowers.

The trick with the wrapping paper was to get the perspective correct so that it looked like the model was holding it with her (remaining) hand.  I played around a bit until I got it right, then painted out anything that didn't need to be there.

As a friend of mine said, in two hundred years when some art history student is doing an x ray of the painting, they'll see all my changes!

Here is the finished painting.  The only other change I made was to expand the red cloth on the chair.  I just felt that the painting needed something else with color in it so the flowers were a bit more integrated into the painting as a whole.

I'm so relieved and happy to have been able to save this painting.  Now, it's back to the grapes!!

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