Tuesday, November 4, 2014

SmArt school #2

I wanted my second piece at SmArt School to be based on the book Stardust by Neil Gaiman. I wanted to paint the character, Yvainne (a fallen star). I wanted her to appear otherworldly, like her hair and dress were being pulled back up to the night sky. I also wanted to show the silver chain that was used to hold her captive for a time by Tristram. I showed some quick thumbnails to Rebecca to have the idea approved. 

 She recommended I work on the flow of the composition and gave the following examples:

I went crazy with the thumbnails to see what I could come up with. I narrowed it down to three that I felt were the direction I wanted to go (1, 2, & 17) and showed those to Rebecca. We decided to go forward with #2.



I put together some frankensteined reference using my head and arms, some random photos for a torso (I'm pregnant so I couldn't use mine!) and an assortment of blowing dresses.  I distorted the figure reference by elongating the neck and arms and even the fingers to get the form I wanted. 

My husband gave me some feedback and helped me come up with the idea that embers or fire were coming off her hair. So, I was playing with having her hair look like it was glowing and a little on fire with burning bits floating off, kinda like a shooting star. Rebecca recommended I simplify the chain element so that it didn't compete with the hair. So it would wind up her arm and past her up to her hair, instead of going off in some other direction.

I drew over it on the computer so I could pick out what was important to me and leave out the rest.

I decided to make the painting 15x22". So, I printed out the digital drawing that size, I had to do it in pieces and taped it together. I then, used transfer paper to transfer the basic composition and lines to my drawing paper so I wouldn't lose the nuances of the composition I had worked out on the computer. Then I drew the whole thing by hand looking at my photo reference on the computer and stylizing the drawing further as I went. 

I showed it to Rebecca and she recommended some small changes to the body by narrowing the shoulders and the waist and widening the hips to give a more feminine form. She also recommended more fullness in the skirt to balance out the hair. Below is the final drawing with the corrections:

My value studies, we went with the one bottom right corner: 

I mounted my drawing onto a 3/16" plywood board with matte medium, then started painting values  in acrylic paint in muted browns. While I was working on my underpainting I painted over a photo of my drawing to do some color studies. I tried a variety of color palettes, but I wasn't feeling right or certain about any of them.

Then my underpainting was finished, shown below:

I took a picture of it and then used it to make even more color studies. After my husband saw them he decided to try playing with the colors on one of them and came up with some interesting options. Then I played with the ones he had played with and came up with the large one, below:

I love what comes out when my husband and I have some back and forth about a piece of art that I am working on! So working from that, I glazed in my colors in oil paint over my acrylic underpainting.  The face lost the look of the drawing during the painting process and I had to paint it out, redraw it, and paint it again. I showed it to Rebecca, she suggested a few minor tweaks and here is the finished painting:


  1. I find the whole process fascinating, and the finished product even more fascinating! It's stunningly beautiful. I love it! Well done, Jess!

  2. This is absolutely beautiful. To me, it's just perfect :-)



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