Saturday, 18 December 2010

A nude butterfly work in progress ...

Butterflies have always been special creatures to me, symbolising transformation and beauty. I wanted to play with this further, using them as masks on portraits, replacing people's eyes with the markings on the butterfly wings, questioning what beauty is, what transformation is and looking at masks - do they hide or reveal?

We have life drawing at the studio and thus I decided to create a nude butterfly painting.

This painting has been a challenging one ... It started out with great promise and I loved it. And then, when i should have gone home and come back with fresh eyes... well you will see. I am still not sure if it is finished or not...

First I paint the torso and face using oil pastels.

Then I ponder how to create the butterfly mask.It must be painted as the oil pastels are too thinck and hard to control for the delicate finess of butterfly wings. I have a moment of doubt and so I do a practise butterfly.

She just zings off the paper - the dance of colour between the blue and the red is breathtaking! This photo is taken with a crappy old camera, I promise to get some better shots soon.

OK, take a deep breath and paint the mask on!

And then, rather than leaving the hair and allowing it to be a few strands I went and got excited (stepped away from the painting and consider!) See the difference in the two? The later one looks somehow constricted and cheapened ... oh NO!!!!

I then went through a thousand different hair colours searching for the solution. Black, grey, white, brown, blue... I have scraped so many layers of oil pastels off and tried so many different techniques. I want an UNDO button!

Anyway, perhaps I have rescued her. She is not as I had hoped, however she is something different and it does seem to work. Her hair is a blue quite similar to the paper, sort of zings and looks quite interesting, which this photo doesn't show very well. She is wild and gypsy-like....

And then after many months of staring at her and pondering if she was finished ... a creative frenzy swept over me. Tis strange, I barely remember what passed. Suddenly there were shadows on  her face, defining her features and making her look as if she was lit from below. I touched up her skin and made it glow more, added some wind swept hair strands and let myself go in the joy of oil pastels and their wildness.

Look how thick and chunky the oil pastel is! Tis edible... although hard to get out from underneath fingernails

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