In real time this painting is just about done, but time warp to a couple of weeks ago, and here is her face after wrapping up the first-painting of the eyes and nose, side by side with how it looked at the end of last post.
Now for some fun stuff. As I mentioned before, Nichole is covered head to toe in gorgeous tattoos by her husband Joshua Carlton, who is pushing the limits of realism in that medium. We recently attended a tattoo conference with him and saw first hand how tough looking dudes covered in tattoos turn into blushing girls in his presence. I'd provide a link to his website, but since google images turns up over 2,470,000 results he's rightly decided he doesn't need one. On her chest is a mask design that I thought would make this a really awesome frontal portrait. I've always liked front facing portraits but everyone else has to be all fancy with their three-quarter views and such, hating on my frontal portraits. Well, in this portrait I wanted the viewer to experience the double gaze of Nichole and her tattoo, so it had to be frontal to work. Double anything is twice as good.
Above is a sequence showing how I painted her hair. I laid in a Jackie O-like mass of transparent black (ivory plus ultramarine blue and red iron oxide) using a wee bit of Gamsol. Next, I began massing in some of the lighter areas with a little white. In real life the lighter areas are a bit bluish and the transparent areas reveal the red iron oxide wash in the background underneath, so very effortlessly I achieved a play between warms and cools.
Again using my trusty combo of ultramarine blue plus red iron oxide, I created a transparent brown that could nudge either to the blue or the red end and did a little test area for the carved lion's head that she's leaning on. There actually isn't a carved wooden lion's head on the IKEA office chair that she's sitting in, but I thought the only thing cooler than the double gaze of Nichole plus her tattoo would be a triple gaze. I have nothing to go on except several google images of antique carvings and a design I made up, and I was angsting a little over how this completely made up element would turn out, so this was my test run to see if I could get it to work.
Here I've sketched in the position of her body and limbs with soft vine charcoal, which is completely removable and thus completely useless in all other regards. The clothing was then painted using the same approach as her hair.
Finally I was able to lay in the background. Normally I would lay in the background as soon as possible so that I could get the big picture, but I've been operating without a mahl stick this whole time and I can't risk inadvertently smudging flesh tone over a nice background with the heel of my hand. I've been trying to use a broomstick but it looks ridiculous and weighs about a pound.
And that's all for today. I have two chocolate bars in the kitchen and they aren't going to eat themselves. Oh, and this.