Life drawing's been trundling along nicely over at the Leith School of Art on Saturdays - I've already booked next term. I've been making the most of the long poses that these sessions offer, spending each afternoon on one single piece. Last week I worked on this upper body/head painting which came out nicely, the dark red background giving a rich warmth that's reflected a little in the colours on the body. I was particularly pleased with the sense of volume and tone on the torso, the spotlight above casting blue-grey shadows from the breasts onto the belly. The arms look a bit over-brown in comparison - I'm not sure if that's down to bad colour management on my part, or selective tanning on hers.
This week, well... remember earlier this year when I did a study of a chap's old chap? It's since gone on to be my fourth most viewed picture on Flickr and my most viewed piece on Etsy (350+ views but not a single purchase? Bloody window shoppers!). Anyway, I figured it would be an interesting challenge to do a similar study of a lady's lovely parts, so yesterday I set up one of the small box canvases at the start of the session and began to paint, with a view to finishing in an hour and moving onto another, full-body painting. Instead, I ended up spending the entire 3+ hrs session on this one study. Why so long?
Like any body-part study, once you start really paying attention to an area of the body, all sorts of details become apparent, even in the colour of the skin. When painting either gender, the groin isn't normally given much detail on a full-body piece, especially not compared to hands, feet or the detail-swamp of the face - see this and this picture for example. Unlike the tanned male model from the earlier study, yesterdays female model had pale skin, requiring subtler shading than the orange man. Shadows had a dark turquoise look about them, but sadly the lighting wasn't starker - it was really too diffused to make really interesting tones (which would've made a full-body piece very frustrating, so it's probably best I stuck to this). Also, as the light outside dimmed, it became harder to see exactly what colours were on the canvas - the oranges on the legs, especially the left one, are much darker than I thought, and don't really connect well with the creamy pale tones on the belly. I'm half tempted to repaint some of the legs with the naples yellow paint later on today, hopefully bringing them into line with the torso, but I'm loathe to go back over a piece that was painted from life. Maybe I should just chalk it up to experience.
I'm just a tad concerned that some may think it's a pornographic image, as I was when I first uploaded the male study in February. But why should it be? 50% of the world has one, 100% of the world came from one - Caesarians excepted - and it's not an explicit, pseudo-gynaecological image such as those used in porn (or, er, so I'd imagine). It's just a study of part of the female body - albeit a part that's rarely seen in culture outside of the bedroom. Still, it's telling that within half an hour of being uploaded to Flickr, a photo of the painting has already had 25 views and rising. Are any of those for titillation? I don't think it's the kind of image that'd turn anyone on - as far as I'm concerned, it's as saucy as this hand or that foot - but maybe years of life drawing have left me a little naive on what nudity means to some. What do you reckon?