Sunday, 17 November 2013

The Medusa

Whenever I see photographs of this lady, the somewhat notorious Rebekah Brooks, currently on trial for various misdemeanour's involving phone hacking and perverting the course of justice (very serious). I am reminded of the mythical female creature The Medusa. Her shock of red hair and pale features bring this to mind immediately. All that is missing are the snakes and in her previous very powerful role in the Murdoch empire, the object of her displeasure could certainly be turned to stone. Fortunately those days are over (I hope!).

In any event I was taken by a newspaper photograph and decided to attempt my first portrait since relocating to the new abode. This has also christened the new studio.

A closer view

The `Medusa' 16" x 12" Fabriano Artistico Extra White 300gsm not

After a loose but careful drawing using a No7 2B mechanical pencil I first painted a wash of Cadmium Red Light and  some Cadmium Yellow light the red predominant, over the face area, not worrying too much about keeping within the boundaries. The hair presented a problem in that this particular shade of red is difficult to emulate but as I was not attempting a super realistic portrayal I didn't worry too much and used various mixtures of Cadmium Red, Cadmium Orange and some Burnt Umber added to darken the mix. I partially painted the hair on the left hand side and then concentrated on the features. I soon realised my face mixture was too strong and after completing the eyes, nose, mouth etc - and letting them dry - I added acrylic white in places to lighten the face colour. People with red hair tend to have very pale complexions. I then painted the hair using  bold strokes and not being too finicky. 

Her top was Cerulean Blue and the scarf left the white of the paper with splotches of Burnt Umber in various dilutions. The orange splash is Schminke Translucent Orange. 

Finally I added small shadows on the face with a few final touches. Brushes were the two Isabey retractables sizes 4 and 6 together with the Isabey Kolinsky sables sizes 6 and 8. I also used the Da Vinci Artissimo 44 mop but this is proving a problem as, when cleaning, the head is coming out of the ferrule and has to be put back in. This was an expensive brush so this is annoying and may mean I'll have to retire it soon.

All in all an enjoyable session and I rather like the result, although how it will be received remains to be seen.


Ray Maclachlan said...

I like it Peter. Thank goodness she is facing away, no turning to stone for the viewer.

Peter Ward said...

Thanks for comments Ray. How the mighty are fallen.

Peter Ward said...

Well that's it then. Apart from ray nobody likes it. Back to the drawing board!

Oscar Solis said...

I like aspects of the painting, in particular the hair and the skin tone. The thing is that the face is extremely narrow. A solution, at least from my point of view, would be to draw the face/ head (sans hair) in it's entirety, even those features hidden by the hair, spreading the facial features apart, checking the proportions in a mirror, etc.. After the face is drawn, the hair is sketched in, but only after.

I've used the above formula when drawing portraits for clients. Additionally, my work process for such portraits involves working the image out on sheets of scrap paper until I get everything how it should be, whether it's a caricature or straight. Only when that is done do I transfer the final working sketch to the final paper to be used, usually by using a lightbox.

I look forward to seeing the new version.

Peter Ward said...

I think I interpreted the photo too literally - a problem when painting from photos. The view of the face is very narrow but I think you are right Oscar. I may do it again - on the other hand I may not.