Sunday, March 3, 2013

Thistles and Thorns II

Posted by: Kate

I finished "Thistles and Thorns" this week and guess what: it has neither thistles nor thorns in it, so I will have to come up with some other title for it.  I'm thinking, "Under the Mountain" or something like that, but maybe that's just because I've been perusing Yuqi Wang lately and I'm in love with his mysterious, lost-in-translation titles, like "The Autumn of Mountain," "The Girl in Dress of Miao," and "A Girl With Black Eyes."

Last time I got all crazy on y'all about Orange Ocher by Natural Pigments.  I just want to say that I don't think it really matters what colours you use, period.  I watched Yuqi Wang do a sublime portrait with some terrible, terrible tubed teals and violets and what have yous.  And he did it with the cheapest freaking brushes I have ever seen.  But I like Orange Ocher, and if you all want to harass Natural Pigments to re-issue it, that benefits me, so have at it.

After slapping in that moody, dark background and the black cloak, I was left feeling like her face was too light.  I have a tendency to bump the skin tones too high in key.  So I experimented with darkening the face in the head study.  That's another reason why studies are great.  They can be the guinea pigs for your inhumane painting experiments.

Much better.  By the way, now is a good time for me to mention that I am using Rosemary mongoose brushes for the first time.  Holy schiznet.  They do all the painting for me while I do other things, like sort my recycling and check for puppy videos on youtube.  I know a poor workman blames his tools, but a dumb maxim says stupid shit.


All just Orange Ocher, Bone Black, Lead White and a teensy bit of French Burnt Sienna.

Here is some more work on the hand.  I haven't done anything interesting, but just so you're not all surprised when you see the finished painting and there's a hand in there:

Now with my head study as my sherpa, I reworked the face in the painting proper.

Fun times!  Feeling good!  Uh-oh, there's an itty-bitty smudge of something on my magnificent head study!  No prob, Bob, I'll just wipe it off with a bit of OMS...

 FUUUUUUUUUUUUUU...dge.  Yeah, completely destroyed my head study.  I dealt with it like a mature adult and curled up on the floor for an hour, where Dave found me and had the good sense to leave me alone.  After finishing the face that day I turned the painting to the wall and pinned a sign that said "NO LOOKING" to it.  When I felt my resolve slipping, I moved it to the guest room.  For a week I didn't look at it.

When I got back to it, I did another pass at the hand:

Which brought me to this point in my painting:

In every painting I have a moment where I have to face my greatest fears.  In this painting, my bed-wetting experience was resolving the transition between foreground and backgroung, ie, painting the lake edge grasses.  I hedged my bets by oiling in with some Oleogel in case I needed to wipe everything off after my first attempt (I did).  Then, I began noodling away.

I was relieved when it worked.  I was also pleased with how the colour of the grasses echoed the colour of her hair.

Let's not forget the fur of her cloak.  The fur is actually black, but I preferred to make it brown, using the collar of another jacket as a guide.  Again, echoing some of the colour in the grasses.

And now let's finish this beast off with some more grass, a bow on the hat, and a lining on the cloak:

SHA-BLAMMO!  I'm happy with it.  I feel like I've made strides with my figurative work, and that this is a strong start in a new theme.  But my happy fuzzy feelings were a little dampened when Dave, in his backhanded compliment way, said that it's my best painting and he wasn't really into my other figurative work.  It kind of reminded me of when I got my hair done and instead of saying that it looked nice, he said it looked "so much better than before."


  1. Beautiful. Kate! I think you've taken your figurative work to a whole new level (and it was great before)!

  2. This is really nice Kate. Good work.

  3. It's gorgeous, Kate. Really. No qualifications or comparisons necessary. Brava!

  4. Regardless of the title, it is splendid and captivating. Moody and atmospheric.

  5. She's beautiful, she's haunting and her hand and hair just rock! Thank you for letting us in on every painful stroke!

  6. I love this work. I hope my daughter will someday see this in a museum.

  7. Well, reading this made my morning. And just four colors? AMAZING.

  8. Thanks for the kind words, everyone!

  9. awesome! It's true haven't seen you put much painting up here in a while, but really sweet!
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  10. Wow Kate! awesome painting and I loved the commentary. Well done!

  11. Beyond the mountain
    Beyond the mist
    This side of the mist
    Yon, the mist
    Have your followers suggest a title.

  12. The painting is great but your writing is freakin hilarious!

  13. You are a GREAT painter!!! May I ask what medium you use with oils?

    1. I only use mediums occasionally. If I need to, I will oil in an area that I am about to work on, but that's just about it.