Monday, August 25, 2008

Sleeping Cast

This is a recent painting using a cast that I've painted several times. I wouldn't actually call it "Sleeping Cast". I think of it as a still life so the title will probably be "Cast with Pillow and Sheets". I'd rather let the viewer decide what the cast is doing.

The cast is a copy of the "Dying Gaul". Theres something about this image that has made me want to paint it more than once. It depicts an enemy of the ancient Greeks and Romans and even though the face is somewhat idealized the moustache keeps it from being overly so.

When I first made the drawing I had planned to put it on an 18"x24" canvas but I grew impatient to work on it and since I had a 16"x20" primed and ready I decided to see how it would look on the smaller canvas. I liked it better cropped because it seemed less like an intimate portrait of someone actually sleeping and more like a still life. This painting marks a turning point in my recent work because I decided to slow things down a bit and push harder to get things right. Normally my procedure is to draw directly on the canvas with charcoal and then make a thinly colored underpainting (ebauche). Instead I made a drawing on paper, transferred it and then did a wipe out using thinned down burnt umber, pulling out the lights with a rag. After this was dry I mixed my colors and proceeded to use a window shade technicque painting with small brushstrokes using the "tiling" method mentioned in "Classical Painting Atelier". After the first pass was dry I proceeded to paint everything all over again, glazing and scumbling as I went, which gave the painting a much richer look than some of my previous paintings which were more alla prima(one pass).

Originally I had intended to have the head partly wrapped in a sheet but then I saw my daughters coat in the closet and I knew I had to paint the fur collar next to the plaster surface. I was a little hesitant thinking maybe the idea was too silly. If the title was going to be "Sleeping Cast" than yeah, the idea would be silly but as a still life with no intended subject other than light on forms, it's just another object.

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