Diana Probst, Cambridge Artist

Girl in a Dress: Day 2

Girl in a Dress WiPOn the second day of painting, while the dress was still tacky but not wet, I finished off some of the details and began on the face. Immediately, I hit the problem of the strong grounding. When I was mixing on the palette, the colours were subtle and well defined. On the base colour, they faded. That was an indication that they would not be able to compete with the dress and the hair, once the figure was completed. It was a problem that only existed because of the dress, so the background was my way of checking it if was a serious matter. It was, and I caught it early.

I went back to the palette and mixed it much stronger, and found that it was still pale on the canvas. At this point, I decided my mixing was correct. Once the harsh orange-pink had been covered, the facial tones were going to look fine. I had to trust in that after taking the paint mixes over towards the window and the various light sources in the room and comparing them to my skin.

I added in the white parts and the black laces, which were maybe the worst part of the entire painting, and then I started on the hair. At this point, I was still mostly blocking in colours. I should have left the laces and just drawn their shadows, but other than that it did not go badly.

Girl in a Dress WiPAs I worked on the face I found that I had to take some of the other parts to a higher finish. In the end, I had nothing but a figure floating in space, entirely the opposite of how I would usually have been working. Nevertheless, this figure was so important and so singular in colouring that I felt I was not going wrong.

In the second picture here, the skin that has been painted is actually skin-toned. It was beyond the wit of my phone camera to put the peaks in the right places, however. If you look at the breast of the dress, you can see just how much a touch of ochre stood out on the deep red. The red, similarly, bruised the ochre wherever they were mixed. They were great for shadowing and highlighting each other, but really difficult to add to anything else, and they had to be at lease one colour within the skin, the hair, and the dress.