In my studio, the painting of Aine in my previous blog entry happens to be sitting just next to a painting of a little girl from my next book “No One But You” by Douglas Wood, which publishes next May.
The juxtaposition of the two got me thinking about the differences and similarities between my work from life (Aine), and my work derived from photo reference (the little girl).
Sometimes I fear that the amount of time I spend in the life room is a bit of an indulgence. Sure it’s good to get away from my studio and to hang out with other artists, but can I really justify spending at least one day every week away from my desk?
On the whole I feel the answer is “yes”. Not only is the life painting hugely enjoyable for me, but I think it is certainly informing and improving my illustration technique too. The comparison of these two pictures proves the point.
My brushwork in the illustration is freer, and more confident and economical than it used to be. In the past I would have had a tendency to paint every hair on the girl’s head and to very clearly delineate every fingernail.
Now I indicate the hand with the more dabby and hopefully more telling brushstrokes that time dictates I must use in the life room.
In very basic terms, I now understand a great deal more about the mixing and application of oil paint than I did when I did the Gulliver paintings four or five years ago.
The illustration is still a good deal tighter than the life painting and that’s fine, but it’s good to feel that after twenty-five years in the business, that the core training I still do may be paying off in a meaningful way.