But my feet are making duck prints again and my back stopped speaking to me at noon. Yet again I am in deep water with no land in sight (although the duck feet might come in handy). Turns out that “It seemed like a good idea at the time” is a dangerous way to choose subject matter.
Little girl in white dress. What could possibly go wrong?
The fact that her skirt was tulle apparently registered enough for me to identify it in the last post. I ADORE tulle. If anybody ever gave me a ballet tutu I would probably never take it off. Thousands of hints have failed to produce a tulle anything and thus I am reduced to painting it on others.
Loving it and painting it are different continents. Today the charm of the tousled layers has come head to head with the sorting out of said layers. Cross-eyed trying to establish just how many tulle overskirts she is wearing and where they do and don’t overlap, I am driven by the grim truth that, if I get it wrong, the painting won’t read right.
So this means returning to first principles. Yes, the glaze oil process as I practise it necessitates least five separate layers of paint. And yes, that allows for corrected rendering at least four times. But it has been my experience that getting the drawing right at the beginning makes the difference and that means paying close attention to detail and line at every stage. Portraits are, of course, the most dependent on exact rendering. (You will remember that my lapse of judgment chose to paint a portrait surrounded with tulle.) I stood at the easel today for three hours and staggered through the drawing.
That propelled me into the grisaille, or value study, which establishes the tonal structure like a sepia-tone photograph. Nothing slapdash here either. I have learned the hard way that careless brushstrokes will return to haunt me. So whether I am painting a leaf or a nose, I try to imagine the “grain” of the area and echo that with my brush. Again, the damn tulle. Four more hours for my arches to sink.
Our marriage has precious few secrets. But I don’t remember anything in our vows which said I couldn’t keep a small dark chocolate stash for those late afternoon duck-print moments.