I was asked a few weeks ago to paint a commission for a couple, they wanted an erotic painting of themselves showing their love for each other and I was shown three ideas as a suggestion for the pose for the painting. My gut reaction was one in particular, as it had a better interaction between the couple, and more diagonals within it, which always makes a painting more interesting to look at.
Pose decided, I took the photos that I needed to use to create the artwork, because then I know I’ve got enough information that I need, and the couple in question held the pose perfectly as I took the photos which always helps. A split second to take a photo, and then I can add to it to make sure it has the right background in it. I had been told that the background should be the sheets of the bed they were lying on, plus above them a sort of biblical type dramatic sky of deep colours, bright blues, bright reds, ochres, and browns. It had to look right to pull the whole painting together.
We talked of various options regarding paint, and I suggested acrylics as I can get the better depth of colour I needed, plus skin tones are always complicated to do, and acrylics help me to get the skin tones to look right. The painting was to be painted on a block canvas, painted around the edges, and measure 18 x 14 inches.
I couldn’t wait to get started, and ordered the canvas as soon as I’d agreed all the details with the clients.
I drew out the couple onto the canvas, and when I was sure it all looked right as a composition, I blocked out the first layer of paint, which is mostly just getting the paint on as a base layer on the canvas. because it was acrylic it dried quickly.
The next layer was building up the tones, painting the white of the sheets on the bed, and also the darks of the dramatic sky above the couple. There were a couple more layers after that building up the depth 0f colour, and the sheets of the bed were kept white with a hint of the folds of the sheets. At that point I wasn’t quite sure what colours the sheets would be, as I had been asked to paint a dramatic aspect of the scene, and I thought that if I just kept the sheets white that it might loose that aspect, but until I had painted the couple, I would decide afterwards. Thats the joy of acrylics, you can paint over the surface until it looks right. But I knew I could decide better after painting the couple, as then all the tones of information were in the painting.
So the next part was painting the man, who has more of the English skin tone, so I created his skin tone with a mix of yellow ochre, cadmium yellow, cadmium red, white, black, burnt sienna, ultrmarine blue, and pink, His tattoo which is a very important part of his character I painted with a bit of bright blue added to the mix of the skin tone, which dulled down the tattoo as tattoos are. It was one of the difficult parts of the painting, but I am really pleased with the way it turned out.
Then I painted the woman in the painting, who has more of a Latino skin tone, so the same yellow ochre, cadmium yellow, cadmium red, white, black, burnt sienna, ultrmarine blue, but far more of the yellow ochre as the base of the skin tone. and no pink. I liked the fact that they have different skin tones, so I could paint the part of his leg you could see between the sheets and the viewer knows its his leg. Then when I was happy with the womans body, I painted her lovely thick black hair, fanning out over the bed, as they caressed.
It was then, when the picture was almost finished that I looked at it and realised that the edges of the painting of the sheets had to be less bright, to create the dramatic light shining on the couple. If I had left the sheets white, you would be looking at the sheets, being the strongest contrast in the painting, against the dark sky. When I toned down the edges to the duller ochre greeny tone, it made the focal point the couple themselves, which of course is the focal point of the painting.
I love this painting because it is tasteful and erotic, its elegant, and dramatic, its a celebration between a couple who love each other a lot.
Its called ‘The Joker and the Queen’.. and I love it!
The couple who commissioned it do too… she said to me “I knew you’d make me us look good” and I smiled and said to her “Its my job…”