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On the right path

After sorting out whatever the problem was with the headless chicken, he came to see me for us to discuss the work I’ve done so far for the goddesses painting. He knew he’d asked for a complex painting, when he asked me to do the commission, but I hadn’t realised how complex it was until I started doing the research – three weeks of reading up in books and on the internet about each goddess and comparing notes to make sure that they were all telling me the same thing. So then after that, I was ready to find the basic image for each goddess having found out about her persona and having the beginng of an idea of how I interpreted how she looked. Of course this is all MY version of how they look, and not necessarily what anyone else would think. But then the whole point of this painting is that it is ME who is doing it. He wanted me to do it because he knows I’ll do a good job, because he knows I’m greatly interested in the subject matter and the style of painting, because he wants a woman artist to put the feminine into it, because he’s seen my “Enigma” painting on my website and wants the Goddesses painting done in a similar way. I’ve shown it here so you can see what I’m talking about. But most of all he wants me to do it because he’s wanted this painting done for years but hadn’t found the right artist to do it for him. A woman artist who can paint mystical paintings. He told me when he first contacted me that he had  asked the universe to send him an artist to do the goddesses painting, and the universe had sent him me. Ok, I won’t argue with THAT then !!!!
 But I wanted to go through my thought processes with him to make sure we’re on the same wave length – and it seems that we are! I showed him my sketches for each goddess, and the layout I proposed for the painting, and he nodded happily at my decisions and explanations for each one. I told him about my gut reactions to some of the goddesses and the way that had led me to make various decsions regarding the images and how they would all pull together. He nodded again, smiling. And asked me which one of them was leading me most – which one did I have most empathy with, and I smiled and instantly replied “Diana”. He was surprised but pleased at my confident reply. I also told him that I felt very strongly that she had demanded to be in a certain place within the picture, and yet I had overrridden that and put her in the central position. He said that the left side of my brain was taking control, and I agreed it was, and that made me instantly think that I’d be better to return her to the original place that I had felt that she was to be in. This picture more than any other I’ve ever done is based on the feel of it.
I smiled in recognition of that and made the decision to put her back where she wanted to be.
All of these goddesses are strong personalites and they will make their feelings known to me, I’m sure, as I start to paint.
Then he asked me which medium I was going to work in. The “Enigma” painting is done in oils, and I felt that the end result of this painting would look best in oils, the subtlety of each face as it merges into the background is best done in oils, I can capture their beauty better that way and make any small adjustments as I go along.
He knew there was a “but” and pushed me for my thoughts on it. What was my gut reaction to the way of painting this picture – what did I REALLY want to paint it in?
I hesitated to answer him, and he pushed again for me to explain…..
My thoughts were this – that the oils would certainly capture the images well, that the goddesses would look beautiful and I could do them full justice in the oils, but the background would lack the magic that it needed to pull this picture together. Because this is what this picture holds more than anything else – M A G I C – the feel of it, the sign of it, the ambience of it has to be in the picture. That is what this is about. And oils, wonderful as they are, don’t pick up on that to the extent I need it. And boy, do I WANT it in this picture. He nodded, as I explained that, and agreed, that that is what I’m going to have to do. I smiled as I met his eyes, and he could see I was all fired up with the idea, it fed my creativity, and the picture wouldn’t flow if I didn’t do it.
But here was my problem again – if I do the painting in watercolour, with the pour-on technique that I love so much, the magic would be in there, but the faces wouldn’t have the depth of personality and character that I wanted, plus watercolours are notoriously difficult to get right for faces, and doing SEVEN of them would be more so.  Mmm….. lateral thinking was needed!
Ha! Got it!
I would do TWO paintings. The first would be done in watercolours, with each goddess’s face put where she is going to be in the picture and the basic outline drawn out, then I will carefully paint masking fluid over each face and let it dry. Then I’ll choose my colours for the background – a deep blue, maybe two different blues, possibly a deep purple, and probably another colour I haven’t finalised yet – a deep green or even dark red, maybe even gold.  Each colour will be mixed in its pure form in a small pot. I’ll wet the whole of the paper, and then pour on each colour, here, there, a bit more, working over the whole painting, and seeing how the colours swirl together on the paper, finding their shapes within the water and causing lovely fluid lines, but as they reach the masking fluid the colours will swirl past them and on to the next free area. The hardest part will be for me to not get the inclination to *play* with it, to walk away and leave it to dry overnight. And then the next day, to go and have a look at it like a child on Christmas morning, full of bright eyed wonder,  to see what magic has appeared on the paper – there will be light areas and darks, pure colours and mixed colours in bright hues, and to build on those colours as my background, for the magical background of this most magical of paintings…….
And then, and only then, will I be able to actually start the painting itself. To paint in oils the effect of the watercolours, to capture that beautful loose effect with a brush. Its the only way I can get around the problem. With some lateral thinking! Hard work? Certainly! But I shall love every minute of it!!

2 thoughts on “On the right path”

  1. Jackie, Your enthusiasm for this painting is reaching out from the computer and grabbing me 🙂 It sounds a fabulous project that will challenge you in every area in which you are normally comfortable.

    I love the whole idea of being guided by the Goddesses and the Universe. Of listening to them as they shape your inner thoughts over the design and appearance.

    Quite Magical!

    And I hope we'll be allowed to see the end result 🙂

  2. Jackie Adshead

    Joanna – Aw, that's thrilling to hear that my enthusiam is THAT obvious!!

    Yes, it IS a fabulour project, and it will certainly challenge me as it's very complex both in its subject matter and the creative skill needed to paint it. But, I have high hopes of it being the magical painting I am planning!

    And of course you'll be allowed to see the end result!!! 🙂

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