I'm now at the stage of building up thin layers of paint for the verdant grass surrounding the skull. I've been looking at grass very intently. First, I looked at Durer's masterpiece, a study of a small piece of turf. I've been staring intently at grass where ever I come across a patch. I looked at all different types of grass, in close up, on the internet. I looked intently at the reference photos I took at Golden Gate Park. I studied the grass in Virginia's back yard last evening at the Artist Roundtable (a weekly get together of artist friends at various locations). The more I look at grass, the more I see that it's not just little straight blades. Instead, the blades undulate, bend, reflect glare, and fall in layers over each other.
I've already built several layers to give the impression of fallen blades, with the upper layers catching the highlights. I've had to twist and manipulate the #1 round brush to attempt to give the grass the undulations and graceful arcs.
The artists and poets at the Artist Roundtable were focused on the interaction of word and image. One of the side topics that came up was that of "patience", and this painting is requiring big doses of patience. It's taking a great deal of time, because as the layers of paint go down for the blades of grass, I have to step back and determine where the high lights would make the most sense, and where the blades should curve around the skull and snake. This is largely an intuitive process. But in the end, the grass has to appear to be bent from the weight of the objects pushing the blades aside.
Anna Conti has given a good summary of the discussion at last night's get together, here at this link. The whole evening was very inspirational, and energized me for today's painting session.