This was one of the more, if not most, complex compositions so far. It was both a surprise and a challenge to do since it contained so many figures – and parts of figures. But because of my approach on this project I do not (for the most part) design the composition, rather, I design the approach (and even aspects of that are still luck of the draw). As it turns out, egg tempera on a flat substrate is perfect for such detail.
Interestingly enough though, the composition also contains the components of a traditional landscape. In this case, the edge of my shoulder appears in the foreground far right, along with the tip of a man’s hand in the far left. Then there’s the lady in the blue striped shirt, perhaps best considered still as foreground, though I was careful not to render her as fully saturated chromatically nor with a full value range. Then there’s the couple in the middle-ground, left. Finally, the array of receding figures. By my count about thirteen in all (!).
So I began with a fully developed black and white underdrawing in india ink, see right. This allowed me to proceed with the egg tempera level slowly and gently by laying in light washes to test for color relation and value development. I realized as I worked that it’s very similar to the process of colorizing old black and white photographs. Luckily, most of the clothing on the figures in the background was (cool) blue, which works well for reading distance, so I kept with that. But I also decided to keep a few of the warm background colors in some of the other figures too, although in extremely light washes. These washes helped to provide a chromatic unity to the warm flesh tones of the foreground.
Like the previous panel this, too, was delectable to colorize. I’m happy and hoping to wind up the egg tempera series soon. A technical write up of the lessons learned about egg tempera in this series of panels here.