Wow, sculptured texture. Twice. This panel is a celebration of the painting knife. It all began on the preparation phase. I applied an acrylic modelling paste to the lightly primed panel. (The design had already been transferred.) I started with the rear tiles and worked my way forward, the fabric folds and my beloved leather handbag. At that level it was white on white: a polar bear in a snow storm (toting a handbag).
After that dried, I covered the panel with a light yellow ochre imprimatura, and transferred the design (once again), this time to lay in the underdrawing (see above right). I find as I work on these panels, in acrylic, encaustic and (pure) oil, that the hard lines of the pen nib are much preferable to the light washes created by a brush. Both can render a design and set up formal values, but the nib sets up texture in such a way that a few covering strokes can soften but not eliminate them. Nice! Egg tempera and the mixed technique – as media – do not possess the covering power needed to soften this harshness, so it’s necessary to use washes for the underdrawing.
During my first painting session (see second image, right) and after a few hour’s work I had introduced the main colours of the compositional forms. Overall, it looked good but was too coarse, light and sketchy. Something more was needed. But what? I let it dry for about a week as I wondered.
Then yesterday after detailing the tiles, my linen jacket and glazing the lady’s blue shirt with some ultramarine blue, I decided to bring that blue glaze into the purse. Everything darkened in a nice way but now there was nothing left to do but reclaim that beautiful russet glow of the leather with the painting knife. I spread on burnt sienna, just like buttering toast. A delicious bodily opacity emerged. Oh yeah, this is going in a good direction. Then I had to dig out the highlights and shadows describing the form now buried under this avalanche. I added detail where needed, letting the form tell me what to do. (See above left as well as the spotlighted image in the online view of this post.) It took me about an hour, but wow, just as dinner was ready, I was satisfied, ready to surrender to different kind of knife.