The first painting project

Contre jour

Our first painting project of the course was an extreme contre jour painting, or in this case two.  The model was sat right against a brightly lit window, so that her features were in darkness, hence difficult to see and difficult to represent.

At one level the challenge is to construct an abstract image of dark and light shapes in a manner that is interesting and gives a clear sense of the quality of light coming in from the window.  You can see the difference in the light between these two paintings.  The second was painted on two consecutive bright sunny days, whilst the first was painted on grey, overcast, London days.

I also took a different approach to the abstract construction.  The first uses the window frame to create an energy and tension of the strong dark cross against the light and of the recto-linear forms against the organic form of the model.  Perhaps a statement of the tension between humanity and modern existence, of a human being sitting still for 6 days.  The second is a bit different, by using the window shape to box in the models head it gives strength to the sense of the model being trapped by her job in a frustrating position, and with a streaming cold.  While she was extremely patient, it was very clear, and understandable, that she was not enjoying the experience.

`The second challenge is to give form and personality to the model in the head itself, when the lack of light provides for limited creation of form through tonal difference.  I went about this by using some slightly exaggerated tonal difference, but more importantly by building up difference in colour (hue) to create the planes on the face, its expression and hence personality.  The top photograph shows the use of reds, greens, greys and oranges giving the impression of substantial sifting of planes, ie both form and expression.  The models lower ebb is clear in the second portrait.  I also use the colour contrasts to give a sense of energy to the person, a living, pulsing, being rather than just a a physical shape.


HeatherlyPatrick Earle