Finishing another experiment

I am pretty happy with the outcome of this painting! I have learnt so much from the process and it shows real potential. 

I applied what I learnt from the shadow test paintings towards the end of the painting, which really helped complete the piece.

What works 

The duvet
I chose to add pattern to the duvet. This choice was partly a reflection of the pattern on the bed I sketched from – which I had noted the colour and pattern. And the choice was partly due to the the artist Remnev, who paints intricate and realistic patterns in his fabric. I knew painting something realistic would never work for my own work, but this idea of putting a more painterly and abstract patter on the duvet seemed fun and full of potential. 
I mixed my paint with part Liquin to thin the paint slightly and make it dry faster. I waited until the stripes and the ochre dots had dried completely before applying the eggshell blue. This technique works extremely well. The colours – this eggshell blue vs the orangy-ochre are opposite each other on the colour wheel and so vibrate on the paper when put next to each other. The depth of the finished duvet also works so well – being able to see the underpainting through holes in the blue. I have been talking of the importance of the duvet and how I want it to represent everything it is conceiling from the viewer – so this painting technique that has so much depth and allows the viewer small looks into the surface below the blue is exactly the kind of technique I want to be using!
The extreme contrast between the eggshell blue and the bluey-grey shadow also works really well. I had two really descriptive sketches to work from so the folds of the duvet make sense. Keeping the contrast to just two shades – light and dark – give the viewer enough information about the form of the duvet without getting caught in unnecessary information. Finding this balance of what is needed and what is not in the information I give the viewer is important. 

Covering up the face of the person – the scene was too much about the face before I covered her eyes. It’s a shame because I really liked the way I had painted the face. But without her face shown the scenes becomes about what we can’t see and what we want to know, instead of what the girl is thinking etc. 

Perspective – having the viewer feel part of the room, and sat maybe on the edge of the bed is more suggestive and involved than compositions I have painted in the past, and it really works. We are drawn in here by the walls on both sides and that there is an empty space next to the girl. The lower perspective creates an expectation of intimacy that I want to create. And then the narrative and identity of the girl that is more strongly felt because the perspective suggests something else. 

What doesn’t work 

The shadows and colours on the walls I never could get quite right. The lighting doesn’t have a clear direction (although this flat lighting does work for the duvet so..?). And for fear of overworking the piece even more and ruining what I had I thought it was better to stop. 

The shutters in the top centre of the piece. Is brown is a good colour choice? The thin streaks of light are two high contrast and attract two much attention? I couldn’t figure out a better way of painting this section so I left it at that. Experience with these rooms and more direction with lighting will reveal what would work better for the scene. 

What next 

Push forward the technique I used for the duvets. As I have said elsewhere the duvet and what it hides etc is an important part of these paintings and this technique has the potential to achieve this importance in the paintings. So focus on that (more detailed planning notes in sketchbook do). 

Covering the face works, but covering it with the duvet would work better than with an eye mask I think. Since I want the fabric to be the thing that conceals and it would look like a more cohesive painting. 

More painting! 

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