A big painting made part for fun, part for practice, over eight months (although not continuously). Since there was no deadline and no budget, I could take a relaxed, undramatic subject and put in as much detail as I liked, so I used this picture as a chance to exercise texture skills, among other things. There are a whole lot of textures in the painting, with various pattern and response to light: different sorts of wood (that has grain and has to glow under the lacquer in the direct light), the hard coldness of porcelain (even though its color is warm white), silks and velvets, gold and gems, soft gray fur, flat red lacquer and the liquid glistening of the tea poured in the cup. Each needed its own way, its own brush, its own technique - not all of them were figured out at the first try.

Color in this picture serves the spatial composition, which is primarily classical. The whole is played on browns and reds; the brown and yellow system occupying most of the left and top and a lot of right in a horseshoe shape, framing the composition, while the red system goes right across in a staccato sequence of spots. The gray streak lies across the eye path and across the red system, there are additional directional elements of green and white, and the dark violet blocks the right and bottom, a “sink” for the eye path. The yellow eyes are at the visual centre, and the perspective is “unwrapped”, more cylindrical than photographic, from the point of view at the bed’s foot.

The only deviation from the classical scheme is cutting of certain elements with the picture frame, and while I’ve heard objections for things like the focco’s feet being partially beyond the frame, in the whole composition it works: the gray figure, the least saturated element in the composition but with a rich texture of its own and an array of muted browns, greens, reds, lies across the eye’s path, and visually cuts the dark bed cover in two. The feet also are at a secondary eye entry point in this composition.

The picture was painted all by hand, from a tonal (as opposed to line) sketch; the only artificial aid used was the perspective of the parquet floor pattern, but even that was designed by hand. Dabbling, smudging, glazing - and glazing and glazing and glazing…

Be sure to look at the sketches and detail images.

Digital painting



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