I've been waiting a long time for this. It's finally figure painting day!
As I'm sure I've mentioned in previous posts, but I am not hugely interested in painting supporting elements. I do however understand that on most occasions they help get an idea across much better than just a figure on some lame gradated tonal background. When I paint a portrait I feel that if all of the collateral elements that support the figure are convincing, they will in turn make the main figure more convincing. They're called supporting elements for a fucking reason.
That being said, I love painting the figure so much that every time a painting is started I have to force myself to work on the background and all of the supporting elements in first because I don't give a crap about those things and would never even bother painting them if I had already finished the figure. It's like painting foreplay for me!
Why bother taking care of the background's needs when I've already shot my load all over the figure.
You ladies know what I'm talkin' about!
So I've always imagined our girl to have milky white skin, not dead pale, but really pale. It's just a thing for me.
I wish achieving the desired effect was as simple for me as painting some shadows and highlights and kicking back with a glass of The Kraken on the rocks to bask in my gloriousness, but nothing is ever that simple for me. Ever. ...um, except the part about The Kraken. I seem to be able to achieve that with virtually no effort almost every night.
Painting flat white skin has no subtlety so usually I start with a traditional orange-y base and start layering yellows and blues and pinks over the top. Hopefully this will allow small parts of all of those colors to show through the top coat of white, giving the skin a thin translucent feel. This rarely ever happens for me, but I always give it my best fucking shot anyway because I'm a champion.
On the first try at the skin (Fig.1), in my excitement at finally getting to the figure, I completely skipped the all-important building-up of the colors and got right to painting the white because I'm a moron that can't follow his own goddamn rules. As her body gradually took shape I came to realize that the shape it was taking was all wrong. I had tried to take a short-cut and progress more quickly and somewhere along the way I had evidently lost my grasp of her anatomy's structure. Her parts were not fitting together quite right. Things were askew...
It was as if a fence had blown down in the tornado last night at the Anatomical Ranch and all the rib cages, breasts and abdominal muscles had gotten free and were running around loose. Nothing was where it was supposed to be!
Her right boob had disappeared completely and I had absolutely no idea where it had gone.
So in an effort to not totally suck ass, I decided to start over and painted out everything. This time I was going do a professional job and pay attention to my reference photos. This time I was going to build up the shapes slowly to give her figure a convincing solidity (Fig.2). This time I was going to give her the correct number of boobs even if it killed me!
The first attempt at the neck area (Fig.1) could be quite possibly the worst thing I'd ever painted so I made sure to get rid of that fucker first. If you're doing this kind of caricature based Pop-Surrealism, it can be difficult to connect a regular sized body to a giant size head in a convincing way, but it's very important that things look solid.
Good solid head is difficult to achieve if you don't understand the importance of the neck.
You fellas known what I'm talkin' about!
The problem with the neck was that I was making that area too complicated by painting all the little bones and tendons and shit that I know make up a neck. The parts of the picture that surround that area contain much more important information for the story and they were being dominated because so much was visually invested in the neck. I should've been letting all that whole mess drift off into shadow (Fig.3).
I had a terrific model and, Jebus bless her, she has a lovely super-flat stomach. Not a muscular, gym-rat stomach, but the stomach of a genetically gifted, naturally thin person who will never have to worry about what she eats. At this point, the viewer should be able to tell she looks like that from my painting.
Unfortunately, this was still impossible (Fig.3).
Things had gone terribly askew during my previous attempt, but this time I was determined to not lose my way. This time I clung desperately to EVERY scrap of information that those reference photos held for me. Every tiny shadow darkened into the valley of a crease. Every highlight was the wild peak of a mountain. Everything was everything! There was nothing that I was not going to notice and immediately increase it's value exponentially. Fuck Subtlety Gently!
That weird crease on her left side is actually in the reference. Sort of. Her ribcage is twisting back towards the couch and compressing with the hip at the same time. So as her torso twists, her oblique externals (those are that set of muscles) are flexing to make that movement happen. They are in no way that severe looking, but I was caught up in trying to make everything exactly as it was in the picture and in doing so I managed to over-amplify everything. Well done.
I seem to have a dimly lit recollection that this girl was originally supposed to have a lithe, suggestive body, not a monster stomach.
I guess it's time to paint out more crap and start over ...again (Fig.4).
EDITOR'S NOTE: Enlightened Andrew would like to end on a more positive note by saying that he is very pleased that the correct number of boobs have been firmly established.