I decided to do a small test piece before doing a larger painting of a person lying under the duvet. I wanted to see how I could translate this pattern onto the painting, and doing this test allows me to make improvements before working on a big scale.
So I used very similar technique to the last painting I completed with the duvet -using a simplistic pattern and extreme shadows and highlights.
I have been influenced by a painting I did for my painting module (LICA236) which tested the extreme light and dark idea:
This was painted from a photograph of the same bed and person, but I decided not to include the pattern of the duvet.
The oils were applied wet-on-wet in one sitting with no medium to thin it down. This is a technique I am comfortable with and I think you can see this in the confidence of the strokes applied, compared to other paintings in my studio practice. I wanted to bring an element of this boldness into this new experiment.
High contrast between light and dark. Depth and abstraction come into play. From afar the piece reflects a duvet, then up close you can see the way I layered the paint and which parts I left unpainted and it appears as more of an abstract pattern.
The lighting looks really harsh with this high contrast and I love the effect! It goes against the association of a duvet being all soft and gentle; instead it’s harsh and edgy.
What doesn’t work and what could be improved
In the last layer of painting I added a blue-ish grey midtone to the shadows to act as a middle ground. I think I added too much of this – especially in the blocks of shadow. It’s easy to get carried away with adding detail when I am painting from a photograph because I have all the visual information I could want, so like in this instance I lost myself in replicating the image and forgot to stand back and access the painting separate from the photograph. For the main painting I will check in with the overall painting more often and try and look to the photograph less when adding touches such as the midtone grey.
In the previous large experiment of Devon in her room I put stripes on the fabric, and a linear spotted pattern which guided the eye and gave the duvet more form. With this painting the flowers don’t help show the shape of the duvet at all. There is also a lot of white space between flowers and the flowers are quite large, which means the duvet is perhaps too hard to pick out – it is too abstract.
Perhaps making the flowers smaller and closer together and perhaps following more of a line?
Leave more of underpainting to show through – which would be achieved if I made the flowers smaller and closer together. I think this will add the depth and more of an ephemeral feeling perhaps to the duvet. Instead of something rigid and painted as fixed and complete.
I think it’s time to start the larger experiment with these things in mind!