Journal52 Prompts 50 and 51 were ‘Sparkle and Shine’ and ‘Sing a Song’. For some reason, that I can’t fathom, the prompt Sparkle and Shine gave me the idea of someone with a mandolin. I went trawling through old paintings of people with mandolins to flesh out my idea, and ended up using Pierrot with a Mandolin, as a very loose idea for my painting. Usually, the Pierrot clown has a white hat. It’s on the floor in the painting, and I just left it out.
‘Sing a Song’ easily segued into that, so I went looking for songs with lyrics about Pierrot. I found this old french folk song At Pierrot’s Door. The lyrics also seem fitting since Journal52 2014 is almost at an end (never fear! There will be a Journal52 2015). If you follow the link to the song, you can listen to it being sung.
As always I strove for simple. I used the largest brushes I could, kept my brush strokes broad, and didn’t worry overmuch about making my painting look like the original or the rules of art. The painting took about 30 minutes (40, if you count taking time to let paint dry).
As usual, it’s hard to photograph or scan so that the Sparkle and Shine shows, so I’ve included some photos that show it a little better, in my write-up about my process below.
To start with, I lightly drew the Pierrot, with an eye to making sure (s)he fit on the page.
Then, using Titanium Buff for the face, and Iridescent Gold for the suit, I blocked in the shapes. I used Golden Acrylics throughout this painting (with the exception of a Viva metallic purple) with a 4 inch round brush for the Pierrot, a liner brush for the face, and a 3/4 inch flat brush for the background.
I didn’t worry about getting the shape exact or keeping the lines smooth or straight, at any point. That would kind of defeat the purpose of keeping things simple. For this painting, the idea was to suggest rather than define the Pierrot.
I blocked in the mandolin with Transparent Red Oxide.
Switching to the 3/4 inch flat brush, and Quinacridone Nickel Azo Gold, I blocked in the background, making no effort to smooth out the lines or color. Around the head, I made broad flat strokes to suggest a halo effect. I left white showing where the hair would go and where I would be writing the words to the song.
Its a little difficult to explain, but sometimes, before you know exactly what you want to do, you have to get something down on the page. I mixed Titanium Buff with a tiny brush tip’s worth of Naphthol Red (a very powerful color) and some of the Quinacridone Nickel Azo Gold to darken the face, and then used those colors to suggest the eyes, nose and mouth. All this would get painted over entirely, but it helped me understand what my proportions might be and exactly how I wanted the face.
While I was thinking about what I wanted for the face, I moved on to the hair. Using the side of the 4 inch round, I painted broad strokes of the metallic purple for the hair. I made sure that some of the strokes went into the gold in the background.
Stayling with the metallic purple, I went through the whole painting and added the shadows.
Then I used Zinc White to add highlights. Zinc White is more transparent than Titanium White, so the other colors show through. I applied the Zinc White very heavily in areas that I wanted it to be more opaque.
I applied some the Iridescent Gold (very shiny, sparkly paint) into the background. Once dry, I used a purple brush tip Sharpie to write the words to my song. I’ve found that a brush tip seems to work better over acrylic paint than the regular tip, though it’s a bit harder to write with.
I added the ruff, with Zinc White, and then the darkest values with a mix of the metallic purple and Transparent Red Oxide. I painted over the face with Titanium buff, and redid the features using the same colors as before.
Then I noodled for about 10 minutes. That means I studied the painting and decided I didn’t like this and that, and changed them. Then I studied it again, and made more slight changes. A little darker here, and a little lighter there. I let myself do this for 10 or 15 minutes and called the painting finished. I’ve found that I can noodle forever, but that’s not a good thing.
Because of the iridescent and metallic paint, this painting looks quite a bit different depending on the light. That’s one of the reasons it was important to study before making changes, moving the painting around so the light caught it differently. I had to decide what the primary lighting was going to be, and try to paint only in that lighting.