Face in the Glass
16 x 20 inches
I started this painting in the dreary heart of last winter. I was so needing some really intense rich colours in my “world view”, and this painting sure fit the bill. The photo I was working from was one I'd taken a while back of a still life setup featuring a teensy antique perfume bottle surrounded by some reflective easter eggs. I choose this view because of a reflection that I saw when viewing the greatly enlarged photos on the computer screen. Just above the gold reflection band, I spotted a reflection that just looked like an eye, and a bit of a nose and mouth right below......and viola! my sub conscious read it as a face. Much like seeing a dragon in clouds or a puppy in random specks on wall paper.
So I decided I'd run with that. I gridded the photo I'd printed out, made a corresponding grid on my gessoed masonite board and got to work sketching. At the same time I made some paper “templates” of different objects in the painting. I knew I wanted to use sponge brushes (both square and roller) to evenly spread my acrylic glazes. Using paper cutouts to mark off the working areas was a technique I'd used many times before in my illustration work.
I really luv using acrylic glazes (acrylic paint thinned with a Golden Acrylic glazing medium) to get a graduated glaze of intense transparent colours.
In this pic I've begun the glazing process for the vase and two of the balls. Following the photo reference, I've put down the first glaze defining the reflections for the blue ball on the right. I've just about finished the magenta glazes on the “red” ball on the left. I've put in the base glaze for the magenta vase. Note the blue watercolour pencil gridding that I used for sketching the main components of the picture. I've also blocked out with paper, the etched flower design on the vase. I'll paint that in later, as it should only need one light glaze of blue.
I continued on with my glazing process. I alternated Phthalo blue glazes with Anthraquinone blue(a navy blue) glazes and magenta (P.V 19/122) glazes. I used Hansa light yellow and Quinacridone Gold for the gold touches. This was a primary triad (red,blue,yellow) with blue as primary. As I progressed with the glazing I needed a bit of a different surface glaze for the etched flowers and the gold bands. I'd “reserved” their white spaces with a bit of paper taping their cutouts down on the canvas. I removed the paper masks, and begin glazing over these reserved spaces with the appropriate colours.
This whole process for the reflected glass surfaces and round balls is done with a technique similar to watercolour.....working from light to dark......covering the painted surface with veils of colour. But in the case of acrylics, I'm using a sponge brush on my canvas...to mimic the flow of graduated watercolour over the paper. And also different from watercolours, once an acrylic layer is dry....it is totally isolated from the next layer of colour. In addition, if I loose a bit of white needed for a highlight I just paint in plain white acrylic and off I go. Those highlights can also be adjusted with more glazes.
I continued to adjust the blues and purples till I was satisfied with the 3d look. The colors were deep in a low light, and rich in full sunlight. For a bit of a change up, I switched to totally opaque paints (white plus phthalo blue, magenta, yellow) for the background in a heavily brush stroked blend.