Work in Progress – A Sustained Pose

Following a rather intensive time in the studio focusing on still life, I returned to the subject of the nude early last summer. Since then I have been working on a series of small-scale nudes which have been made over a period of three to six sittings with the model.

This painting of Laura began last June and has since slowly been progressing week by week. At this time I began rethinking my work on the nude as I wanted to pursue a painting from the figure in a more sustained way as I used to at the Slade, rather than working quite so rapidly. This idea of a nude on a chaise-longue is a re-visited one and a re-working of this theme has been in my mind for a while now.

Drawing and blocking-in during the earliest sessions

This painting is the largest nude I have done for a while, since ‘Narcissus’, and she measures 30 x 20 inches. The palette used is very subtle and light in key. The pale, cool skin tones of the model are very harmonious with the surrounding drapes and cool northern light.

A little further on...

As the sessions continue you can see how areas of colour are fine-tuned, the edges of each colour plane remaining to describe contour and form over the torso and thighs. The detail of feet below shows how the areas of colour build-up, adjusting and re-adjusting the planes. Minor changes in drawing continue throughout the entire painting process.


The model is very tall, with incredibly long legs. Measuring carefully during each session is a must making sure the previous sittings proportions are correct and not trusting the eyes completely.

An optimistic halfway through?

Progressing through the Autumn, the light becomes cooler and the painting days shorter. There now seems to be more adjustment of colour temperature during each session, and the close tonal range on dark days is proving very problematic. At this stage it feels like two steps forward and one step back with each sitting. My hopes at ending the painting at Christmas now seem optimistic.

Eyes now shut..

During one later sitting, Laura closed her eyes and I thought how much more relaxed and tranquil a mood this gave to  the painting.

where we are up to

Now to the difficult stage.. how many more sittings, hopefully not long to go!

This entry was posted in Drawing, Nudes, Painting, Portraiture, Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Work in Progress – A Sustained Pose

  1. Brian says:

    She certainly does have exceptionally long legs. The painting is looking good ,looking forward to the final stage. Is it practical to keep changing the lighting as the season changes?

    • thank you. Unfortunately having no choice but to keep changing as in this part of the world the light is changing constantly, (until i get a studio with constant light.. Egyptian light perhaps…)!
      All part of the challenges of a sustained pose of course.

  2. kestrelart says:

    This is very interesting – the ultra-long pose and slow build to a picture. I couldn’t place your medium easily.

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