I’m pleased with the way the sky has been going. I added some Ceramic white to the tops of the cumuli, making them more substantial and a little fluffier than they were, again letting the top edges stay bright and hard edged while softening and blending the lower part into the mass of the cloud. The warm sealer coat barely peeks through the clouds, while the earlier coat of grey has become their substantial body, picking up some of the blue that was ragged out in the earlier stage. I’ll probably add a little colour to the clouds – a pale yellow and a touch of pink here and there.
I began working on the velatura layer late in the afternoon, using Foundation White with a little Naples Yellow and a tiny bit of Cadmium Red mixed together to create a basic flesh colour. I made a very thin layer of this, using my fingers to gently rub it onto the greyscale surface of the arms and adding small amounts of Iron Oxide Red into the shadows. This stage always reminds me of applying makeup – its a very delicate blending of transparent layers that is easily overworked. Later I’ll add more detail to the velatura, creating highlights and seeking out areas of slightly red tints to the skin or blue-ish veins.
I spent much of my studio time today continuing work on the architecture, which looks correct now, with all lines leading to a central point on the Empress’ stomach. I’ve added cracks onto the ground – these will need lightening up a little, but I’m pretty satisfied with the composition that’s taking shape. I’ll let this dry then add the subtle veining and shadows that will make the marble feel more substantial.
I’ve been taking time to simply sit and look at the painting so I can consider how the cherry blossoms are going to work. I’m looking forward to painting all that pink into the sky against the Cobalt Blue. It’s going to be dramatic and pretty as all get-go. Of course I’m heavily indebted to Alma-Tadema.