The delightful seph_hazard came round for dinner on Friday night. I've wanted to paint her for a while (ever since I saw this photo of her, in fact), and the original plan was to invite her and wildeabandon for dinner! wine! gossip! painting! (I figured that sitting for me would be less dull with someone to talk to.) Except seph_hazard had a headache, and then I didn't finish cooking until about 10pm¹, and then wildeabandon left and I was drunk and tired and we decided to do the painting the next day.
This was a brilliant plan. It worked out perfectly. I very rarely spend the day at home, cooking and drinking tea and fussing the cat and pottering. It was really really lovely. I had long chats with seph_hazard, we had a delicious breakfast of muesli with banana and strawberries, and then an even more delicious lunch of all the leftover roast vegetables from the night before chopped up with pasta and pesto and grated cheese. And I discovered that the local cornershop sells real beer! How did it take me this long to discover this? Anyway, they have Fullers ESB Champion and Honeydew in the fridge for £1.90 a bottle, and I had some with lunch, because it was a sunny Saturday at home and I could.
The sunlight was perfect: seph_hazard obligingly posed on my bed, bathed in light, and we chatted a bit while I painted. I kept meaning to take regular breaks but we'd suddenly realise half an hour had passed without me noticing. seph_hazard was brilliant at sitting and didn't complain even though her wrist and back were killing her. I painted her in about four half-hour sittings, possibly slightly longer.
28" x 18", watercolour on Chinese watercolour paper
Again my inclination was to shade with colour rather than black/white, although until it dried I had no idea the blue was that intense. I'm pleased with this. The anatomy is somewhat lacking - I've made her spine about six inches shorter than it needs to be - but I was having difficulty fitting her on the paper anyway, and if you didn't know she was taller it wouldn't necessarily be noticable. Given that I sketched in the hands and arms at the last minute while seph_hazard desperately waited for me to finish so she could rest her screaming wrists, I'm quite pleased with how they turned out. I've never done proper skintones in watercolour before and it was fun.
In fact, the whole thing was fun. I had someone to talk to: I had a beautiful naked woman to admire. Having a sitting model forced me to work fast and efficiently; I didn't procrastinate (although we took leisurely tea breaks), didn't fuss, didn't dawdle and didn't get bogged down in perfectionistic detail. I could never, never have painted this in four hours from photos. At least, I don't think so; watercolour is faster than oils so maybe it's the medium that makes the difference. But this was fun. I want to do it again. I want to try to do a life-painting session like this regularly if I can, making space for it properly, with a model all to myself and enough time to do them justice. I've already agreed with cyrus_ii that we should aim to do art together every week, so that when one or the other of us inevitably cancels we'll end up doing it about once a fortnight, which is about right. I don't think I'm up to organising a group life painting session (and I don't have the space) but trying to do something like this twice a month or so would definitely be good.
( wittering about materials/technical difficulties )
1. It was good though. Garlic bruschetta with pesto and cream cheese; heaps and heaps of roast mediterranean veg drizzled in herbs and olive oil and balsamic vinegar (OMG courgettes: I always forget how nice they are. Also sweet peppers, mushrooms, red onion); cannelloni stuffed with feta and spring greens chopped and cooked in garlic and pesto; lots of garlicy tomato sauce; salad with cherry tomatoes and fresh spinach leaves.
Making the cannelloni was less easy than it looked: first I wasted a whole bunch of lasagne sheets by cooking them stuck together and not being able to separate them without tearing them to bits; then wildeabandon patiently softened each one for me in boiling water and olive oil and I still had trouble making the rolls without everything falling apart. I had some of the leftover cannelloni and sauce with olives and LOTS of salad tonight though, and mmmmmm good food with fresh ingredients. I should do that more often. Next time I make the cannelloni though I will use goats cheese, and probably mushrooms or spinach instead of greens. Greens are cheap and good for you but not as tasty, and even cooked they were a bit tough and stringy to be a good pasta filling. Possibly I should have steamed them rather than stir-frying them.