I'm currently spending my Saturdays in a painting workshop called Working in Series, led by the wonderful Pamela Lanza (check out her gorgeous work here). We're encouraged to complete 6-12 pieces during a 12 week semester; a tall order for someone who usually spends 50-60 hours on a painting. So, for the last month and a half, I've been trying to keep things a little looser, and working on a series of small studies of hands and hair. Here's what they looked like last week:
(Please forgive the wonky angle...I was rather precariously balanced on a chair)
And here's how they look this week, with the addition of three new ones, and excluding the two I left at the studio (also excluding one that is, in its underpainting stage, just too unfortunate looking to photograph.)
In the beginning I had simply thought of these studies as a way to practice painting two parts of the figure that I find both beautiful and challenging, and had set out through iPhoto libraries past to find pictures of hands and hair to paint from. But as I was asked to think more about why hair and why hands, I found myself coming up with all sorts of reasons, none of which have yet coalesced into any sort of typable narrative, but all of which took my paintings in a different direction - toward self-portraiture and taking inspiration from historical (mostly 19th century) painting.
Some take backgrounds from or otherwsie reference specific paintings I love, like Tissot's Reading the News, Fragonard's Young Girl Reading, and Waterhouse's Circe Invidiosa. Others borrow their color palettes from the Pre-Rapahelites. All, other than the hand holding the key, are from my own photographs of myself, taken for each painting.
I'm looking forward to doing a few more of these in the coming weeks, and will post more photos when all are finished...