I chose to paint this pose of Brie because of the strong lines – the sweep of the long, lanky arms and legs, the negative shape inside the arms (a sideways heart) and the shapes through the bent knees. I also felt that the androgynous nature of her slender, angular body was interesting. The lighting was good so I picked out areas of dark shadow and painted them blue black, then midtones in light brown and highlights with near white. I deliberately chose starkly contrasting colours rather than a realistic palette and painted in defined blocks that would accentuate the lines of the figure and the shadows.
I started out with the two-minute sketch (above) that I did in the earlier exercise and then developed this further in my sketchbook with a quick watercolour painting to analyse the light and shade.
In my final painting, I opted for a blue ground to go with the blue-black I intended to use for the dark shadows and also to contrast with the body and give emphasis to the negative shapes.
The pose is a pleasing because of the negative shapes and angular lines. I would come back to this again as it could be reworked in a variety of ways… tonal painting, collage, print…
The composition is fine (I cropped to square because it did not fill the picture plane).
The use of light and shade, high contrast and limited palette is striking and I feel the abstracted nature of the painting works. This is the first time I’ve painted in this style and I am pleasantly surprised.
What doesn’t work so well?
I found myself painting fiddly, small areas not terribly well and this may not have been the case had I scaled up to a larger size.
There is a slightly wooden look, particularly to the head and neck, but that might be because the blocks of colour have made Brie look more like a statue than a living person. I don’t see this woodenness in either my first sketch or quick watercolour.
In my first sketch the model’s leg sweeps further out to the right and had I captured this in the final painting, it would have helped to accentuate the elegance of the model’s body.