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.
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.
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.
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.
During one later sitting, Laura closed her eyes and I thought how much more relaxed and tranquil a mood this gave to the painting.
Now to the difficult stage.. how many more sittings, hopefully not long to go!