This post contains artistic representation of breasts. And of the moon, but no one seems to get bent out of shape about the moon.
Child Of The Moon, Acrylic on canvas, 16×36.
Recently my amazing, wonderful GF has been reminding me how much I love the Rolling Stones from the mid sixties to the early ’70s. They were OK when they were an English band doing American Blues covers (I’m willing to forgive Mick for not knowing the towns along Route 66). But when they started writing (famously influenced by Lennon and McCartney), and recorded Satisfaction, they really transformed into something new: a band that had a unique approach to songwriting, and that could combine various styles into their base style of American Blues. Over the next couple of years they would experiment with British Folk, Mod, and Psychedelic, moving through two guitarists (Brian Jones (RIP), and Mick Taylor), before bringing in Ron Wood and settling back into their Blues roots. At which point I lost interest in the Rolling Stones.
I’m old enough to remember dimly back into my childhood when Nineteenth Nervous Breakdown hit the AM airwaves. A few years later my struggling guitar fingers eked out the opening riff to Honky Tonk Women. (I have that down now, thanks). As a somewhat scraggly tween I saw their first tour with Mick Taylor (it was amazing). And as a young adult, I saw the influence the Stones had on Punk, Hardcore and even Rap and Hip Hop.
Why do I bring this up? (Oh no, KilltheHero, not another long winded discourse on music history). Don’t worry… I bring it up because lately I’ve been painting esoteric themes, like my last two pieces, Morgana, and The Sorcerer’s Daughter. So a Witch painting was brewing in my brain, when my delightful, beautiful GF reminded me of an old gem of a Rolling Stones tune which does not get the love it deserves, Child Of The Moon.
Such a great blend of modal British folk with the Rolling Stones’ signature blues-rock guitar sound, and oh, that trill on the sus chord (that’s a musical term for that jangly bit at the top of the song). Back in the days of the vinyl single, the song was the B-side to Jumpin’ Jack Flash, and the poor wee thing never got put on an LP until the greatest hits album years later.
So the point is this: while I was pondering a witch painting, my GF brought up this tune, and it seemed like the image I’ve put in my head to this song since I was a tiny larval child was the perfect image for a spooky beautiful witch scenario. Inspiration comes from all sorts of places.
I had run into a photo on DA that I liked, and had saved it to use someday (please note this is not my photo, and I credit the artist and use it with respect):
Sheis by ssunnddeeww on Deviant Art.
I used the pose, although I changed the face of the model to look a little more British and a bit rounder. I also added her far arm into the pose (which would be the model’s right arm). I felt it balanced the painting a little better.
Something we’re going to talk about with this piece is using color washes, a technique common in watercolor, but which can be used with acrylics. A wash is an application of paint diluted with water. In this case I also used acrylic glazing medium in diluting the paints.
Child Of The Moon
Acrylic on canvas, 12×36
Colors used: skin; unbleached titanium, vermillion hue, titanium white, windsor violet. hair; red oxide, windsor violet, orange, deep red, cadmium yellow medium. background; windsor violet, violet, lemon yellow, green-yellow. moon; windsor violet, thalo silver, titanium white.
Brushes used: 8, 10 and 12 filbert, 6 edger, liner.
As always, I began with an underdrawing in vine charcoal:
When you look at my drawing, you may not see all of the anatomy underlying the shapes of the body and head. I spent grueling years in figure drawing classes getting the feel of bones and muscles to be able to draw a plausible figure. I recommend figure drawing to anyone who wants to draw or paint; and I mean to draw or paint anything. If you can draw the human body with all of its shapes and subtleties, you can draw pretty much anything. Just a bit of advice you probably didn’t ask for…
As I often do, I defined the eyes, lips, shading of the nose, nostril, and the nipple. When you look at the body, these are the areas that stand out, since they are a different color than the skin over the rest of the figure.
Next I decided to fill in the mass of the hair. I usually save the hair for later, so that it can fall over the skin, but in a moment of staring at the drawing I decided the hair would give me a clear boundary between foreground (the figure) and background (the orb of the moon, and the sky). I used red oxide to block the hair and for a beginning of the body shading. For the face shading and the nipple, I began throwing together red oxide, vermillion hue, windsor violet and titanium white.
More shading, with windsor violet, following the contours of the ribs and shoulders, and defining the contours of the face…
Now I begin blending the skin tones (here is where the washes come in). I used unbleached titanium, vermillion hue, and titanium white. The unbleached titanium gave me a slightly darker skin tone than my usual. I used washes to blend and tone down the darker shading that I began with, as seen above: a wash is simply paint applied in a very watery form. On its own, a wash will dull the color of the paint, since it’s diluting the amount of pigments in the paint: but washes can be built up, one on top of another, to intensify color and form. This is a common technique in watercolor, and I apply it to acrylics. To get a wash, I diluted the paint with both water and acrylic glazing medium.
In blending skin tones, I often use both hard and soft brushes. In fact if a brush begins dying on me, and grows hard from paint drying in the bristles, I keep it to use for blending and texturing. I also use my fingers a lot when blending paints. I really like using my fingers, and I feel like I can get better control of blending that way, especially with a wash (as opposed to impasto painting).
I keep blending the skin tones by applying washes of color, and begin blocking out the background. I knew I would want violet and yellow in the background. So I just started placing those colors into the piece, letting them develop and allowing them to suggest textures and forms to me. If you look at the area under the moon and to the left of the figure, I wiped that area with a paper towel to get some texture to paint over later with washes.
I want the moon to be silver, with the darker features of the lunar surface visible. First I painted the whole orb with thalo silver and titanium white. Then I blocked out the craters with a wash of windsor violet, let that dry, and began adding more washes of thalo silver mixed with titanium white and glaze medium over it. Note that I’ve also started defining the hair: I moved from the moon to the hair to allow various layers of wash to dry.
The piece is taking shape nicely. I keep putting silver washes on the moon, and developing the skin and hair using washes of color. Beside washes, I also use thicker (impasto) applications of paint in the hair.
I’ve lost the features of the moon a bit in the photo below. In the finishing touches I went back over those features again with a windsor violet wash.
Below is the finished piece, as seen at the top. I finished the washes and features of the moon, and put a cloud over the face of the moon. I used more layers of windsor violet, violet, and cadmium yellow medium washes in the background, and also put in a green-yellow point implying a distant light or perhaps a will-o-the-wisp. I developed the hair more, going darker in places—one of my painting teachers used to stress the importance of going darker with shading, saying that many painters are afraid to go darker, and those words stay in my head now as I shade. Finally I developed the figure’s back a little more, and darkened the far arm.
And there it is. Thanks for looking. Please ‘like’ and comment. You can find me on Deviant Art, and on Twitter as @killthehero3.
And experiment with wash techniques. Try them on paper and on canvas. You can get some pretty cool results.