Life Art

(Tableau Vivant of The Delirium Constructions 2010) Mezzo-Soprano in front of Trees was painted in April and May 2018 in acrylic on a large canvas. However, despite being inspired by the artistry of Sarah Small's music and display, this is a story of a painting that was never satisfactory. This page is slow to appear with many stages of this painting shown, in order. Directly below is how it started life. You can see some blue showing through. The orangy black is to have dark behind trees and grass. 1600 by 1200 pixels, it is shown much reduced.

This had every potential, but also the seed of making errors. The the direct result is shown below: the image is 1000 by 1200 pixels, shown half-size.

The result was just unsatisfactory around the face in particular. It's too thin, over-detailed, and the shading is ugly. So an attempt was made to improve it, as below. Part of the problem was the source image was on the computer in my study, and I paint in the living room near the kitchen. The image is 1000 by 1200 and half size.

I settled for the above and put it on the wall. However, I still did not like it. The pubic area was too big and obvious and the shadows were in the wrong direction for the background.

So it was a bold decision to paint the whole body a light blue and cover the features, from which it was all repainted - often using the same drawing lines. Now the image was also on my television, closer to where I painted (but just out of view). Even then I didn't like the result because one eye was near the nose and one was not - an original error previously disguised by a diagonal line. So I worked again thoroughly on the face, to push the nose towards its edge. A final pink translucent wash moderated some strong lines and shadows, and the red cheeks. Once again the image below is displayed half-size.

And this was to be it. It was put in the cupboard. The pubic area is smaller and less obvious, and although I think it became too small it was better this way - furthermore the eye is not pulled there, which is good. The belly button is smaller. Nudity is significant but not the whole point. The eyes became bigger, rather by accident, and I thought the rounding of them underneath was wrong. That the face is long is helped by opening her mouth more, and this can 'pull' the eyes down a little: she is supposed to be singing, although what she is doing in front of trees is left to the viewer. I think her stomach became much better: she does have one. However, while painting the four-singers one after the three-singers one, I itched to change it yet again, and did.

So this was the result of doing some more. It felt as close as I could get it. There was more pink on the face. The right (our left) eybrow was altered. The mouth was slighly altered at the teeth and lips. Most of all, the eyes were reshaped below. Her right arm was made to be more pink. The visible ear was reshaped. I left the 'dimple' on top of the pubic area because it is there! I decided I liked it, despite taking me a lifetime of attempts to get there. Although this was photographed up close, I was been able to use the same resample dimensions of 1000 by 1200 pixels, and it shows at half size.

Will this be it? Finally, finally? Look below: I have swapped the neck reflection and shadow, softened shadows on the chin, and worked again on the pubic area - on the dimple, clitoral hood and labia with some reference to another picture of the singer and others. Similarly, I put in a tongue from another Tableau Vivant picture of the singer. I hope this has corrected the last of the errors, although I could have halted with the one above. Although this was also photographed up close, it still keeps the same resample dimensions of 1000 by 1200 pixels, and it shows at half size. This is a painting where I have to force myself to stop, realising that I will never be satisfied, and what I want is probably not achievable. It proves one can work over paintings, although sometimes the paint is near collapse and the hair dryer is blasted at it during delicate repainting work.

This extended treatment did not happen to the Tableau Vivant of The Delirium Constructions Three Brought Together. There my painting of Abigail Wright was fine; and of the others I improved one. When a painting 'works' it takes less time and isn't subject to the same treatment.


Adrian Worsfold