I’ve temporarily abandoned studies of birds to return to a portrait that is in danger of going off the boil. I began it last summer prompted by the sight of my granddaughter dressed in my wife’s nightdress and her straw sunhat. Most children love dressing up and this one is no exception but recording them in their fancy dress is not easy except with a camera. Reliance on photographic references becomes essential since the first tentative drawing was made over six months ago.
The portrait has progressed to the point where major corrections to the pose have been made, one of these – to the outline of the hat – still shows. She is turned away from the light and the face for the most part is lit by reflected light. This creates subtle contrasts of tone around the eyes and nose which I hope to record rather - dare I say – in the way that Rembrandt did!
I’ve gone for a full painterly treatment in pastel on the reverse side of a grey Canson paper – preferring this to the ‘correct’ side which has an insistent regular grain that breaks into textural marks. The work has progressed to the point where I’m beginning to consider an intermediate fix. I’m always reluctant to use fixative preferring to scrape down to the ground when I can. I don’t think I will be able to do this on Canson because the rubbed blends and corrections have filled the grain of the paper. Little can be done that is not likely to damage the paper surface.