I was working from the postcard, but the colors on the ipad version of the painting are much brighter and lovelier. I will work from that for the final touches.
My teacher advised making two backgrounds; on of burnt sienna and white (this is the background for the floor) and one of burnt umber and burnt sienna (the darker background of what will be a marble panel in the left corner).
Just sketching in the background, and I will let his dry then take on the skin of the baby and the mother.
Worked this Saturday morning (2h30) on the face, first general blobs, messy. I decided that the skin tones (which are usually white+raw sienna+red ocre) would be white+raw sienna+burnt sienna (which is the red of her hair). To make the dark shadows to the left of the nose, I first tried a mix of burnt sienna and Prussian blue but this came out greenish, so I went to burnt sienna and terre de cassel (van dyk black).
sketched some of the hair using burnt sienna, used burnt sienna to outline baby's fingers. Wasn't quite sure where the baby's left index finger was, and finally decided that it was hiding the mother's upper lip.
More hair (burnt sienna and some terre de cassel, better defined baby fingers (using a 5x0 brush the teacher lent me)tinned the skin under the jaw (shadow is brunt sienna and terre de cassel) and added in neck muscles using the mixtures of skin tones on my palette (raw sienna, white, red ocre). For the baby's skin, I added a touch of vermilion to distinguish it from the mother's skin. Painted over the necklace for the moment.
Painted over the upper dress to show the shoulders, and started to sketch the shodows in the baby's body.
Spent two hours on this baby's face. At first, it looked like a mess. Here is the result after about an hour when I realized that I had to use some blue to get the colors to stand out. Couldn't get the nostrils right, just had to look and not think.
Here at the end, it looks more like a baby. I was using 3/0 and 5/0 brushes, the smallest they make (I think) and that made it easier, but sometimes it felt like pushing atoms. I also added some light yellow ocre and another red in the mother's hair. I decided that the babies and the mother's hair mingles so that it is hard to say where one stops, though the baby has more light yellow ocre in his curls.
Did the mattress straps, but after 90 minutes, I had no more energy, so I left it there for tonight.
Doing the folds in the dress: I should have done this before putting any blue, but here I start adding in the lines corresponding to the dress folds, and these will be painted over with thr final color blue. The folds are done with terre-de-cassel (van dyck brown) and some white and some medium.
And more folds. Though it looks dark (and somewhat messy here), the next overlay (of blue) will make this all look more natural (I hope). Spent two hours on these folds and shadows.
Fillied in the dress with a mix of cadmium blue, cadmium yellow and white. Then I tried to use terre de cassel to make shadows in the folds, without too much success.
Here I used a stiffer brush to get the folds looking better, also used a differen blue for the belt and the sash (celeneum blue + some red to get the satin like shadows in the belt. Dress looks betters but still far from perfect. Painting is a bit of luck, you get yourself in the mood and let serendipity happen, but when you are tired at the end of a day's work, it doesn't happen as much.
Then I started on the pillow under the babe, which is a raw sienna and cerulean blue, with some cerulean blue and white for the highlights and some terre de cassel for the dark threads.
I finished the back of the pillow, and drew little patterns using a whispery brush using the burnt sienna (same color as her hair), while I had the brush, I added some finer folds into the dress using the same color. I began working on the marble of the floor.
I haven't touched this painting in four weeks, so I just worked on the mattress, and the bed, for a couple of hours. Under the cushion is a returned sheepskin. Alma Tadema had an attention to luxurious detail that I cannot reproduce.
I started working on the cushion the mother is kneeling on, and on the dressing gown on the floor, using cerulean blue, and dark chromium yellow, and white, and some terre-de-cassel for the darker shadows. The tan sash (and the child's sandals) are yellow ocre and white.
I spent a long time on the blue ribbon: white, cerulean blue, and sometimes terre-de-cassel for the deeper shadows.
I wanted to do this marble panel. My teacher, Elise, said to first paint in the major bands of color. Here I used White, red ochre, and raw sienna, over the burnt sienna background.
Then, using this long-haired brush, you see here, loaded with terre de cassel diluted with medium, you sort of just let yourself go and dot around, and draw dots and lines. I also did the same flowing techniques with the burshe loaded with red ocre.
I did the same technique on the floor. I also spend a long time on the green of the outer cape thrwon on the floor. Painted in the rubies on the belt. I also painted in the bottom of the column under the middle of the bed.
Today's palette had cerulean blue, raw sienne, bunrt umber, and terre de cassel. I worked on the curtain behind the mother, and gave the wall above the marble a coat of raw sienna paint.
With the same palette (raw sienna, burnt umber, terre de cassel), I painted in the flat wooden pillar behind the bairn, and its carved foot under the bed, gave the leather straps some touches to look more leathery, did the walls around the bath in the background, and the carved leg of the bed. Adding a little white to those colors, I started on the marble around the bath.
Above the marble, I addedsome candles, their body is terre-de-cassel (a dark earth) for the flame I used a color new to the palette (the same cadmium yellow that is used in the window to the outside). The flame is white, cadmium yellow, and red ocre, with a touch of terre de cassel to make the wick. The reflections on both condle holders is white, cut with a little raw sienna. The darkened wall is terre-de-cassel and raw sienna.
The first shot of the outdoors. I used cadmium yellow (which doesn't appear in the inside of the room), and white, and red ocre, and a little touch of cerulean blue in the upper corner. then in the next photo, you can see the reconstructed pillar.
I added in more substance the window pillar, and gratework behind it. Some touches of cadmium yellow in the inside of the window. I darkened the interior walls with, raw sienna and terre de cassel. The marble was laid with raw sienna+white plus a little cerulean blue. The water is white and raw sienna, with a touch of cerulean blue.
To finish this, I will lighten the floor (too red), probably with a wash of raw-sienna and white. I will add a small ray of light under the curtain, under the bed. I still haven't done the woman's right hand. I will make the dress a bit lighter and look less cartoon-y, and clean up the skin tones, and add some jewellery.
Lightened the marble floor, using raw sienna, white, medium. Added sliver of light under the curtain. Did the woman's right hand, worked on the skin a bit. Added shadows under the clothes on the floor, on the inside of the marble bath, the edges of the curtains (using raw sienna on the right hand curtain, can't see on this shot). Used blue cerulean and white and raw sienna to give new highlights to the dress. I still have to give the mother her jewellery.
I love this painting so much, I really didn't want to finish it, but I got to the limits of my talent and if I keep on touching it it will only get worse. Tonight, I gave the mother her jewelry: yellow ocre, cerulean blue, white -- these make up the necklace and the bracelets. I also used a cerulean blue+yellow ocre wash to add some highlights to the dress. I used the yellow ocre to give the babe's body more contour, as well as the mother's arms. Finally, I added anemone flowers around the baby.
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