Saturday, December 28, 2013

At Their Mother's Feet- Unveiled

At Their Mother's Feet- mixed media on panel 24" x 30" by Greg Newbold
A few posts back I gave a sneak peek of this painting. Now that Christmas has passed, I can reflect upon the whole process without fear of the recipient's surprise being spoiled. This was one of those rare projects in which the client gave me permission to create something beautiful seemingly without any input or concern as to how it would turn out. I was initially a bit nervous since I had no guidelines beyond the concept of having a mother and six daughters being taught. This was to represent my client Jack's own wife and kids without being a literal portrait. In order to make it work and have a certain family resemblance, I enlisted the help of one of his grown daughters and three of his granddaughters as well an infant cousin to get the photo reference I needed.

Preliminary Sketch
I started with a sketch concept and an idea. i knew I wanted to incorporate a lot of texture and collage elements into the piece as well as metal leafing and I wanted to be free to respond to the painting as it progressed, so I kept the sketch purposefully vague. Using the drawing as a guide, I took dozens of photos, trying to get the angles and poses suggested in the sketch. Working directly on the 24" x 30" birch cradled panel, I then used a composite of many of the resulting photos to make  the final drawing. I had previously applied several coats of acrylic gesso, sanding between coats, so I had a nice surface on which to draw. After I was satisfied with the drawing, I began the painting process by applying the collage elements using matte medium as a glue.


The geometric shapes at the bottom were a heavy cotton rag printmaking paper. The other flowers and leaves were created by tearing, crushing and otherwise molding various weights of paper to create the the shapes I wanted. The shapes were then applied with the matte medium and allowed to dry


Some of the elements were stubborn and required and extra coat of medium to adhere tot he surface. Once everything was applied and dry, I covered the entire surface with a wash of burnt sienna acrylic and began to block in the shapes, colors and values with acrylic paint. I was not satisfied with the tooth of the surface in some areas, so I used a heavy gel acrylic medium in some areas such as the suggestion of the sun at the top in order to get the surface ridges evident there.


Other areas just needed a little more acrylic matte medium stomped on with my trusty beat up 2" house painting brush. From there, I pushed and pulled the different areas, alternating between dry brush and wash, sometimes wiping back the washes to leave the residue in the low areas to achieve the effect I wanted. I envisioned a profusion of pattern and texture but I also wanted the patterns to compliment each other, so I carefully created different patterns for each of the dress fabrics and the sofa. The pastel colors of the girl's dresses contrast well with the more saturated colors of the background. The foil areas were applied with a readily available leafing kit and then they were glazed back to add depth and cut back on the reflective quality which was distracting.


Once all the background and fabric areas were complete, I painted all the faces and skin areas with oil. If you want to try this mixed media approach, just remember that oil will adhere to acrylic, but not vice-versa. Oil is the final layer and there is no going back to acrylic once the oil paint goes on. After the painting was finished, I had it photographed and a 16" x 20" giclee print was created for each of the six daughters while the original was presented to Nancy, Jack's wife. If you remember from the previous post, Jack himself had yet to see the artwork at any point in the process. I was very nervous, but felt confident that it would be well received by all. My suspicions were confirmed when Jack and Nancy made a special trip by the studio to thank me and tell me how much they loved it. Mission accomplished. I hope to do more of these figurative type works in the future.

Previous post on using metal leaf

9 comments:

suziqt said...

Cool piece! When you printed out the giclees how did the gold foil come through? That's a worry I have with working with any of the foils.

Greg Newbold said...

Suzy, although the foil areas were not reflective in the print, the photographer/printer did a great job capturing the overall visual effect. The scans in the post are the ones he shot. He had to take a separate shot with different angled light to capture the foil correctly and then he pasted those areas into the main scan using Photoshop. I think it turned out well.

Greg Newbold said...

You could also hand apply the foil tot he giclee after it is printed.

Suzy said...

Absolutely beautiful! I keep scrolling up and down to see the details and then back to the amazing finished piece. Congratulations!

zillustration said...

Gorgeous~ Knocked it out of the park! Love the variation of textures. Those faces are divine.

Lori Ann said...

Really wonderful piece filled with tenderness, expression and TEXTURE!. I love where you work in going Greg! Bravo brother.

Kathy said...

What an amazing gift! I can just imagine the reaction to the unveiling! Beautifully done with all the various textures. I want to be just like you when I grow up! :)

Greg Newbold said...

Wow, thanks everyone! I had a lot of fun with this one, so it was gratifying to have the new owners pay a personal visit to the studio to thank me. It confirmed that a few things went really right with this one.

Jitka said...

Lovely! Tender and absolutely beautiful.
(I love using metal foil too :))