“Woman at (a) Table” is a work inspired by a photograph I found on Getty Images. I wasn’t looking specifically to paint her, I forget what I was actually looking for, but I fell in love with the image. The problem? I couldn’t find it again. It took two days to locate it using the photographers handle (DEM10) and a partial photo number. When I did find it again, I bought the copyrights to smallest image (I’m poor) so I could freely incorporate her into my work. Due to the restrictions on sizes, I’m uploading the photo I took of the up-sized image (please don’t sue me, I’m, playing by the rules).
Legalese finished, you can see in the photograph of the printout, where I did some preliminary measurements. It’s always good to measure as a rule, however, I never follow measurements when I paint; a fact which leads me into trouble – mostly. More often than not, I’m impatient, so I just go with it and hope for the best, as I did in this case.
I started with a background that invoked a little more color than the photo but still maintained the overall dark nature. You can see it carried over or evolved from work I did with skies, such as in these two earlier works of mine:
After the background was done, I started to paint the woman in a more traditional sense. She ended up looking manly, with beefy arms and what looked like hair, due to my brush stroke method.
(Various settings, such as exposure, played with to illustrate the work being done)
I then worked on the surroundings, the table, the wine glass (my first by the way), and the shoes.
There came a point when I was in a little bit of a crisis with the painting. My depression had kicked in, as Churchill said, the ‘Black Hound’ was baying (He never said that, but he did call depression his ‘Black Dog‘:
I don’t like standing near the edge of a platform when an express train is passing through.
I like to stand right back and if possible get a pillar between me and the train.
I don’t like to stand by the side of a ship and look down into the water.
A second’s action would end everything.
A few drops of desperation.
~ Winston Churchill
Anyway, I was working skin tone, the face and the hand. Let me tell you, the hand is the hardest part of the human body to draw. I was getting poor results and took a break for a moment or three hours. During that time, I looked at the art books littering the floor (Librarians the world over are screaming) and Van Gogh seemed to call out to me.
As you may or may not know, Van Gogh was a little… err, eccentric. Besides cutting off his ear, he loved to paint using multiple colors in the skin. My opinion is that he developed this along the same line as I did, by becoming frustrated with realistic tones. So, long story short, I started mixing in color with my flesh tones and created something I could work with. And then,
I was left with the hand….
It was a man-hand, an unnatural hand, and it had to go. After working diligently on it and going nowhere, I did the only thing a self-respecting artist could do, cover it up as naturally as possible! I was semi-pleased with the results. The hand faded into the background and the entire work became acceptable. By acceptable, I mean the point where I run out of creative energy, get bored, or can’t think of anywhere else to go with it. Here is the end result.
“Woman at (a) Table”
Acrylic on Canvas
18 “x 24”
On a playful note, and giving a nod to my inspiration, I incorporated one of his paintings into a Photoshop collage for posterity. Enjoy!