Thursday, February 05, 2009

Keeping my sanity... kind of.

So the art is keeping me sane... who woulda thunk it?

That said, before my mini hiatus there I had mentioned that I wanted to discuss pieces that didn’t keep me so sane. More specifically, pieces that were difficult to get through for one reason or another.

To touch on this subject I’m going to use 2 ACEO’s I completed not too long ago, those being Vermeer’s “Woman Holding A Balance” and van Gogh’s infamous “Sunflowers”.

Let’s start with Vermeer, shall we?

This piece, while exciting, was fiddly in nature and also, because ACEO’s are so darn small, presented the challenge of getting the woman’s face in that space without it looking something akin to the female version of the Elephant Man.

Before I get into my ACEO trials and tribulations here’s a link to what the full original painting looks like:

Now imagine cramming even a portion of that into a space 2.5 x 3.5 inches!

I liked the challenge that the aspect of teen-weeny spaces presented to me (so much so that I’m doing more of them) but I didn’t anticipate how much it would frustrate me.

Below you can see the stages of how this ACEO progressed:

Part One.
Coloured pencil on Mi-Teintes

Part Two, with some wonky lighting issues.
Coloured pencil on Mi-Teintes
(Yes, those are some of my cp's the ACEO is sitting on)

"After Vermeer- "Woman Holding A Balance" "
Coloured pencil on Mi-Teintes
Copyright Rita Woodburne

I think the biggest challenges I had with this one, aside from teeny-weeny faces, were making the balance obvious to the viewer and retaining that softness and dramatic value that Vermeer has in so many of his works. There was also the challenge of getting her hands to look like hands, rather than making it look like she’s wearing flesh coloured mittens, and speaking of flesh, there were issues I had with colour as well. I don’t often do portraits or works with figures so this particular piece offered up a few learning curves.

In hindsight I’m pretty happy with it but if I were to do it over again I would have given more attention to values and colour (in that order of priority) since in comparing the original with my ACEO the two main areas of focus, her face and hands, are lacking darker values in the ACEO which is part of what gives it that drama.

Since this post has already gotten quite long I’ll save van Gogh’s piece for this week-end. It’ll be a nice break for me to post again and I suspect that if I have to address two pieces that gave me trouble the sanity I’m trying to hang onto will fly right out the window. Although that would make for an interesting post, wouldn’t it?


Regina said...

you know I am a fan of your work & I love seeing the progression. I'm looking forward to the Van Gogh. I did a small acrylic landscape last month where I interpreted the Iowa landscape after the his style. It really made me feel quite giddy. (It's on my blog)

Jennifer Rose said...

I think you did a good job getting the balance of detail right. It can be so hard to work that small, especially with a painting with that much detail.

Rita said...

Regina & Jennifer- Thanks for the votes of confidence! :)

I have to admit that I'm a much bigger fan of VG's landscapes than I am of any of his still life pieces and portraiture. There's something about them that's very alive and he always seems to have a fantastic sense of atmosphere.

Meg Lyman said...

I think you did a fantastic job, especially considering the teeny weeny space. There are some really good, stark contrasts there. And the face and hands look fabulous.

I imagine you do a lot of sharpening to keep the pencil ends small enough to work on ACEOs!

Rita said...

Meg, for ACEO's that have a lot of detail my pencils are so sharp I would consider them weapons. Weapons with the sole purpose rendering good lookin' art... you didn't think I'd use them for evil, did you? ;)