Head and Hands

I had a great day in the studio, starting at 7.30 when I realized that I simply don’t get enough painting time these days, got up and went to work, first using Lead white over the brightest part of the sky, then working for a long time on getting a new layer of warm colour onto his face and right hand, using a Graham Burnt Sienna and some of that wonderful Ceramic White by Holbein. I also touched the darkest features (eyelids, nostrils, mouth opening) with Van Dyke Brown. I enjoyed working the hair very much, using a filbert and the Van Dyke Brown to produce a softened edge to the hair as it meets the face, then one of my favorite script brushes for the fine hairs themselves. They’re about an inch long, pretty fine, normally used by sensible folk for sign painting. I like to use them for linear edges, here for the highlights about the hand, and some Iron Oxide lines to contain and define edges against the sky.

I love how a little detail makes the whole painting come to life, because really there’s not much going on in the dark area of his hair – it’s all about that meeting between hair and sky, hair and face, that matters – where a few gestures to suggest a mass of hair goes a long way.

I added some more highlights to the knot of his bag, then set to work about the raised hand, using the same warm mix to produce highlights and and warmth in the flesh. I’m rather happy with this day’s work.

In the pictures here you can see the appearance of the face and hand as it was by early evening, then a detail of the face.


About pearce

Michael Pearce is an artist, writer, and professor of art. He is the author of "Art in the Age of Emergence."
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