You know how some ideas sit around for a long time? I had the initial inspiration for this painting The Lady In White a couple years ago. I liked the idea, but it needed something more, in order for it to really come alive. So I have been sitting on it (like a bird on an egg,) waiting for the right inspiration and ideas.
Lately I have been gathering ideas to continue my series of paintings of (costumed) figures in nature, and percolating on the concept for The Lady In White. The one thing that the piece needed was the right environment/setting. Last night while watching a documentary movie, I saw a background that had just the right 'feel' that I was looking for. I really liked the quality of the light, and the way it filtered through the forest. I knew the light in the forest would compliment the light on the figure, and the stream was just the right extra element to bring it all together.
So this morning, I spent some time gathering reference material, and by this afternoon had enough to begin the sketches. I started with thumbnail sketches of the composition, but quickly realized that I needed to get a feel for the colors, the quality of the light; then I could make better decisions about the composition. Plus, it was the colors and the light that had me excited, and I needed to follow through and tune into that while the inspiration was fresh.
I did this little color study.
The idea of the study was to work out some of the details of the working process. For instance, to set the sky color, and the foliage behind everything, then build toward the front in layers.
This took a couple passes, and I completely painted over it and started again with a better running start.
The most important thing I learned from the color study is the color choices when progressing from the background forward. In the early stages, I had to reach for the neutral colors when mixing: Raw Umber for yellows, Black for cools, Burnt Umber for reds. That way, as I moved forward, I had plenty of 'room' to move into more earthy tones, browns and greens, reaching for the Yellow Ochre, Ultramarine and Burnt Sienna, without getting too saturated. I still have a focal point - the figure - to place into the composition.
Now, to figure out where and how to place that figure!
Here is the drawing of the figure:
For the back-story on the piece, check out the blog post HERE.