Monday, March 31, 2014

O Sorrow: Part I

Posted by: Kate

You saw the preparatory drawing in a previous post.  Here is the head study:

To me it is absolutely necessary to rehearse the face before I start on my final painting.  By the time I get to my final painting, I will know exactly what colours need to be on my palette.  A colour study on vellum is great for a general colour idea, but often in the head study stage I will find that I need to tweak my palette further.  A head study also helps me to anticipate problem areas.  Usually, for instance, my noses get gunked up with too much paint too quickly, and my eyes slide towards the graphic side.  By rehearsing beforehand, I figure out the best way to paint these areas.  And if I keep it for myself, then I have a memento of my painting, to hang onto and ponder over forever, in keeping with my serial killer style modus operandi.

The head study was bigger than the face in my preparatory drawing, so there was nothing to be gained by doing a transfer.  If I wanted to be all mathematical and stuff I could have scaled up, but whatevs, dog, whatevs.  I just dove right into my painting directly without doing a transfer or anything.  It's such a simple arrangement--just the face and hands.  What could go wrong?  And I know that sounds like famous last words, but really, it all turned out okay.

My ground had to be really warm because I wanted warmth to glimmer out of the shadows.  Is it just me, or is the ground colour the most angst-laden decision to make in painting?  I usually wipe it off and redo it a few times. 

One of these days I'm going to do a blog post that's just a long line up of photos of all my paintings at their ugliest, awkwardest stage.  Behold:

Of course, to me, it was beautiful.  Exactly what I wanted.  But when Dave sees my paintings at this stage, he's very sweet and sympathetic because he thinks I must be having a TERRIBLE day.  I don't disabuse him of the notion because it normally means him surprising me with a chocolate bar or something.

I conceptualized the colours and values in a big way.  The fingers had really dark shadows on the side planes of the fingers, but I made those shadows rosy pink.

I wanted the hand to glow, even more so than the face.

After everything had a chance to dry, I glazed a veil over her.  The veil passes over her face, but I did not glaze over the face except where a fold formed over her cheek.  I still had to do another pass on the face anyway.  The highlights on the organza veil were fun.  I used a couple of Rosemary mongooses, the bristles of which  create a natural open "weave" of paint application.  If you enlarge the photo above you'll see that those white reflections look kind of blurry, as though the camera shook while I took the photo.  It's actually the effect created by the brushes.  It beautifully mimics the blurry and confused highlights on organza fabric.

The husband dissed my background, which, by the way, turned out perfectly, thank you very much, and no one asked you anyways, and don't you have a painting to work on?  But I decided to play around with creating a sky behind her, reasoning that I could always wipe it off if I didn't like it.  But I liked it.

Thank you, Impasto Medium.  I can see you're earning your keep on my palette.

Next post:  Final photo and some talk about inspiration.


  1. I'm not sure if anyone has told you this, but you are pretty good at painting.

  2. Katherine, do you ever sell your little studies? such as your head study for this particular painting? :0) I might be interested in purchasing it.


    1. Thanks for the interest, Carmen. Dave and Teresa and I will be having an auction for the studies and drawings made in preparation for the paintings that are going in our "Uncanny" show this fall. This painting might go up on the block.

    2. Thanks Kate. I would also like to talk to you about hosting you for a workshop. I have a studio on 15 acres in NC. Colleen Barry and Will St.John came out last spring for 3 weeks, Olena Babak just finished a 1 week workshop and I have Rob Liberace coming in May. If you are interested, you can email me at Just love your work...and your blog is just great!

  3. Online auction? With lots of notice? Because I'm a fan of that study too. Right now I'm liking it better than the big piece (does that make me a bad person?)

  4. Great. I painted a really good face today, and I was totally pleased with it until I saw that head study. If anyone needs me I'll be in the studio. Forever.

    I really dig this blog, by the way.

  5. David and Kate,
    I think I've mentioned it on here before, but I absolutely love this blog, and I'm so very glad you created it. I wanted to let you know that I linked to it in a blog post, which can be seen here:

    I hope that's alright, but if for any reason you would like me to remove it, please let me know. :)


  6. Pathetic but fantastic! Great job!