This small reclining nude of Matthew is a painting that I have been working on over the last few weeks. We have been working together for one sitting a week, with the final session taking place this coming week. The painting measures 14 x 10 inches and continues the theme of the nude which I have been working on since the completion of Painting Still Life in Oils. These recent small-scale nudes have all been of a similar size and painted between three and six sittings, with each sitting being three hours.
The rich blue drape was chosen for the way it contrasted with Matthew’s skin tone, the vibrant blue is reflected on the skin, as well as extending the range of colour, warms and cools which can be seen over the body and head. The dark tones of the warm burnt sienna contrast beautifully with the areas of cool cerulean blue and mauve where the light reflects.
During the first sitting I was unsure whether to paint the reclining figure cropping at the point of his mid-thigh but settled on this composition where the left edge of the canvas cuts through at the base of the ribcage. I liked the diagonal running from the top hand, through the chest and the centre of the shoulder. While the arc of the arm suggests the continuation of the figure, painting only part of the figure rather than the whole allowed me to make the head larger within the rectangle. My initial idea was to paint Matthew sleeping, but he is far too curious to sleep through the session and is observing all that is going on about him. The painting so far shows the model observing the painter, while the painter is observing the model.