Face #15 : Peony

19 May 2012

 For this painting, I wanted to keep it soft and delicate, sticking with a limited pastel palette, but leaving in some rough and sketchy elements.

There's lots of strong contour happening here, particularly in the flower petals, and I left in lots of scribbled graphite and coloured pencil shading on the hair and a bit on the face.

I wanted the figure to have a gentle, dreamy expression, and to have an almost biomorphic relationship with the flowers and leaves. I interpret her as being liken to a dryad, in the sense that she is the humanoid incarnation of the flower.

The layer of gesso is considerably thicker in this piece, as compared to the other recent works that I've made in this manner. The thicker gesso gave me an opportunity to create stronger textures and nuances under the drawing.

Rather than using watercolour paint, I opted for water-soluble crayon as the primary medium for this piece, as I wanted it to have an oil pastel like appearance, and less transparency and fluidity than what I would have had with the watercolours.

"Peony" is face #15 in my "29 Faces of May" challenge.
I'm really pleased with how she turned out!

The actual painting is less "blueish" than how she appears in these photos. 
It's difficult to photograph pastel colours on cloudy days... alas...

water-soluble crayon, watercolour, coloured pencil, graphite, gesso and collage on paper
46 x 38 cm
17 May 2012

Oh, check out all that awesome texture !

 I love the little angle on her cheek :


I think it looks like a closeup of a fingerprint...

The peony itself was one of the most challenge parts of this painting.
I wanted to give the petals some depth and dimension, but I had to be careful
not to over-work it, so as to keep the look loose and soft, like the rest of the painting.

dreamy dreamy <3

Happy Birthday "Little Earthquakes" : 2 New Tori Amos portraits (Face #14)

18 May 2012

In celebration of the 20th anniversary of Tori's first solo album, Little Earthquakes, I wanted to make a few paintings that are inspired by the music and mood of the magnum album that has made such an extraordinary impact on my life.

I began with "Little Earthquakes", which is a study of a photo by Cindy Palmano, from the album's artwork (one of my all-time fav pics of Tori.)

I encircled (or rather en-cubed?!) the piano with my favourite lyrics from the title track, the mantra : "Give me life, give me pain, give me my self again".

"Little Earthquakes" 
(study of a photo by Cindy Palmano)
watercolour, graphite, gesso and collage on paper
32 x 24 cm
14 May 2012

I've been doing a lot of works over gesso-covered collage lately... this painting is one them. 
(Love that texture!) 

The next portrait is inspired by my favourite song on the album : Precious Things
I wanted to capture the powerful energy of the song, so I stuck to a limited colour palette of fiery tones, juxtaposed with stark black.

(This is also the 14th face in my "29 Faces of May" challenge.)

"Precious Things"
watercolour, ink, and graphite on paper
46 x 38 cm
17 May 2012

Happy Birthday, Little Earthquakes!

Face #13 : "The Premonition" (collaged nude)

The 13th face in my series of paintings for the "29 Faces of May" challenge, she's another limited-colour nude over collaged booked pages. I wanted to create dramatic shadows and yet keep the work soft, overall.

I love the way the underlying gesso and paper collage created lots of cracks, creases, and bumpy textural bits under the pencil drawing.

The title and expression of the figure was inspired by the word "premonition", which jumped out at me from one of the dictionary pages I was using in the underlying collage.

I'm curious, what do you think her premonition is about ?

"The Premonition"
coloured pencil, graphite, watercolour, gesso and collage on paper
14 & 15 May 2012

Face #12: a collaged nude

13 May 2012

Now an even dozen! This is my 12th piece for the "29 Faces of May" challenge : Similar in style to the previous nude, she's drawn with coloured pencil and graphite, over a layer of collaged book pages and gesso. The title "Le Voile de Mariage"is French for "The Wedding Veil."

I wanted to keep it light and classical, and I really liked the way the piece looked with one arm & hand unshaded, so I left it as-is. It makes me imagine that the figure is gradually coming to life on the page, and I think it accentuates the delicateness of the piece, overall.

#12:  "Le Voile de Mariage"
coloured pencil, graphite, watercolour, gesso, and collage on paper
46 x 38 cm

 This piece has more texture than the previous drawing. I layered the gesso on more thickly, and did a bit of scraping and sponging to get little nuances onto the surface.

Here she is with "All Saints' Day"...

Faces 10 & 11 : Jareth & a simple nude

12 May 2012

Continuing with the "29 Faces of May" challenge, today's paintings were all about space, text, and limited colour.

I wanted the figures to be off-set, with lots and lots of negative space, filled with text and splashes of muted colour.

I began, last night, with a portrait of David Bowie as Jareth, the Goblin King, from the film Labyrinth (a personal fav!) It was a wonderful challenge, as I rarely paint men. The lyrics of the song "Within You" (from the film) take the shape of a labyrinth, twisting and turning in the background, filling the vast space behind the figure.

# 10 : "Jareth, the Globlin King"
watercolour, ink, water-soluble crayon, and graphite on paper
46 x 38 cm

I wanted the background to have a damp, mouldy, rainy, gobliny sort of look, so I layered, splashed, and dripped greens, golds, cool violets, blues, browns, and black until it was just right.

 I highlighted some areas of text by retracing the lettering with water-soluble crayon,
 to make particular words and phrases more prominent in the menagerie of text.

"I move the stars for no one" is my favourite line of the song...
Gives me shivers, every time!


The next painting is a simple little nude, influenced by a vintage photograph.

I created a collage of book pages from old French and English dictionaries, a Jane Austin, and a French children's science text book from the 1940's (hurrah for flea market finds!). The collage was quickly covered in gesso, then a bit of watercolour and ink staining, and finally, the figure was done with graphite and shaded with coloured pencil.

While I was collaging, a dictionary entry for All Saints' Day caught my eye... and hence, the title of the painting :

                                                             #11 : "All Saints' Day"
                         collage, gesso, watercolour, ink, graphite, and coloured pencil on paper
                                                                      36 x 26.5 cm

 I tried to keep the shading very light, as I wanted the piece
 to be delicate and minimal, with lots of open space.

 I love the subtle textures that the book pages make under the gesso.

I'm so pleased with how this painting came out in the end, that I will most definitely make more in the same style.

The 29 Faces of May Challenge : Faces 1 - 9

11 May 2012

This month, I'm taking part in the
 "29 Faces of May" challenge !

I started by making little doodles and sketches on postcard sized paper, but today I pulled out the big block of watercolour paper and did a couple of paintings on the easel.

I found out about the challenge from Effy : http://theglitterhood.com/
The challenge originated with Ayla : http://ilove2paint.blogspot.fr/

 Here are my faces, thus-far :

#1: "White Rabbit"
ink, coloured pencil, and watercolour on paper
postcard sized 

 I felt good to break out the coloured pencils... it'd been a while.

 #2: "Little Rose"
 ink, coloured pencil, and watercolour on paper
                                                                        postcard sized

 I once saw a Victorian card with an image of a cherubesqe face
 in a rose bloom. I loved it, and the idea has been stuck in my
 head for a couple of years; it finally surfaced in this little drawing.

 #3: "Champagne"
 ink, coloured pencil, and watercolour on paper
                                                                        postcard sized

 #4: "Rabbit Hearted Girl" (sketch of Florence Welch)
 ink on paper
                                                                        postcard sized

 In this quick sketch of Florence (of Florence + the Machine),
 I wanted to keep it loose and scratchy.

 #5: "sketch of Marilyn Monroe"
graphite on paper
                                                                        postcard sized 
A quick 10 min. sketch of the lovely Marilyn.

 #6: "Summer"
 ink and coloured pencil on paper
                                                                        postcard sized

 #7: "Season of Aries"
 ink and coloured pencil on paper
                                                                        postcard sized 
 A fun little doodle. I wanted to practice shadows.

 #8: "Sophia" (portrait of Sophia Loren)
eye shadow and graphite on paper
                                                                      36 x 48 cm

 For this painting, I wanted to keep it light and soft. 
I used a mix of grey, blue, black, and pale violet
 eye shadows to create my own pigmented washes.

 #9: "Florence" (portrait of Florence Welch)
Watercolour, eye shadow, ink and graphite on paper
                                                                      36 x 48 cm

I revisted the sketch I'd done a couple days ago 
("Rabbit Hearted Girl") this time, in vibrant colours.