Wednesday, March 6, 2013


The inscription on the back of this small photograph was "Agnes."  I found her in a box of my grandmother's photos, and I think she was a girlhood friend from Spokane, the a vivacious young woman who died after falling on a tennis court and hitting her head.  I have always liked her pose here, with rolled stockings and a parasol, and sassy shoes.  So, I decided to try and paint her for a series of featuring people from vintage photos, and gold leaf.

 The first step was a gesso an 8x8 inch canvas board, draw the figure, and then start establishing the lights and darks with graphite gray acrylic paint.  Then I blocked in the background with burnt sienna acrylic paint.

Since my reference photos are black and white, part of the fun is making decisions about colors.  I decided that girls back in the early 1920s would not have wanted much of a tan, or else why carry a parasol?  Certainly the accessory is a nice way to frame the face, but I also think it was for keeping the skin protected.  So I decided to make her skin tones quite light.  My original conception of bathing costumes of the time was that they were like cars - always black.  But when I found old swim suit ads online, I discovered they came in all sorts of colors, red, pink, blue, green.  So I chose a yellow-green color that would compliment the reddish underpainting of the background.

The last step is to add the gold leaf by applying an adhesive that is very much like rubber cement, then adding the tissue thin metallic material.  I intentionally left bits of the underpainting showing through for contrast.  Unfortunately the nice texture and shine of the gold doesn't photograph very effectively, but I am always excited to get to this stage.

The steps are to coat the entire painting with an clear semi-gloss acrylic, and to cover the unattractive back side with wallpaper, so that the painting can stand on a easel or be framed.

1 comment:

debi baron said...

I really like this one.