Sunday, November 7, 2010


I will admit that I struggled with this painting. I have one failure, an abandoned panel, with the same composition of two figures, but a background that didn't work. And with this stony rock wall background, I struggled with finding the right value to bring out the figures in the front, having enough contrast, but not being so dark as to be uninteresting. The stone looked really neat, like a warm light is glancing off some of the stone edges. But it didn't have enough contrast, so I ended up doing a couple of glazes of ultramarine blue to darken up the value. The trick was to retain the glancing light and shadow on stone.

The St. Andrews cross started out as a red cross, but it just didn't work. It became too prominent. So I reduced the hue so that it receded into the background more. And yes, the perspective drove me crazy too.

In my original sketches, the skeleton is looking straight forward and down. After mulling it over, I turned the skull to the right so that it is viewed in profile. Makes it more interesting.
My favorite thing about this piece is the way the light falls on the skeleton, especially the skull. The extreme side lighting enters through openings in the back of the skull and shines through the front and through the jaw/teeth.

The painting is getting close to done. I need to add the skeleton's left hand, more highlights on both skeleton and human, and little corrections, mainly to the vertebrae. It feels like it has been just a series of difficult decisions. I'll be glad when I can walk away from it. It is even haunting my dreams. Why else would I have a dream about giving some guy a blow job?

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