Otherwise, my “study” isn’t the least bit brown, except in the literal sense. The stone of my studio walls is every shade of neutral (all three primaries combined to create brown) , from cream to umber. On a high overcast day like today it is rich without being colourful; when the sun shines, it is both. Second brown study case in point: last week the art group had a workshop with Kelly McNeil, the outstanding wildlife painter. One of the many things I love about Kelly’s work is her use of colour. Pandas are black and deep, almost orangey, cream; her tigers have blushes of pink here and there; golden retrievers, often soaking from a dip, reflect blues. Looking at her work was the inspiration I needed to get back to mine.
Feeling like painting a cat, I trolled through all of my digitals of the late, lamented Legs until I found a few that could be combined to show him from the back, a pose which highlighted the grace of his curving spine and cascading tiger stripes. It reminded me of Ingres’ La Grande Baigneuse, in which the model’s gorgeous naked back is the star of the show. I decided to use a wood panel and transparent gesso and to begin with a value study in burnt umber and white. As happens rather often, I came to a screeching halt, having realized that the sepia-tone could stand on its own. I once made the mistake of finishing a value study of Jon; he was horrified, I discovered, but there was no going back four layers. Lesson learned. Legs will remain a study in brown. Until I change my mind.