Dropping the Ball.

Currently working on a commission for a friend – a fairly simple composition with a partial human figure in it. At the risk of sounding like I’m rationalizing, the painting is more about texture and colour than it is about anatomy.

Anyhow, there I was building up textures, laying down washes of phthalo green, messing around with black lava gel and Liquid Mirror… and then I noticed a minor detail on one arm that needed tweaking. So I made the tweak. Put it aside for a day or so while I was busy with other things.

Then I noticed it needed another tweak.

This went on for several days, but eventually I got things to a point where I was happy with the painting again. At which point I took a long look at the opposite shoulder on the figure and realized it was massively out of proportion with the other side. And of course, the edge of that shoulder and arm was defined not by some simple linework or brushwork, but by areas of fiber paste, black lava gel and high solid medium gel that butt together. Which is to say it wasn’t something that I could just paint over – oh no, it was too sculptural for an easy fix like that.

Here, maybe this photo will give you a better idea of what I’m getting at:

Note that this is the post-error photo. What I had to do was take a palette knife and gouge off all the offending extraneous material, then sand that part of the panel down to bare wood (good thing I didn’t do this on canvas, huh?), reprime it, patch up a couple of divots with some molding paste, and then start again with the black lava gel. Which, fortunately enough, is quite forgiving.

All this being done, it finally occurred to me to dig out the initial rough comp for comparison purposes. And sure enough, the pose and composition had mutated a lot when I transferred everything to the wood panel.

A lot.

So I guess that’s the moral of my tale: keep your eye on the ball, folks. Don’t get so caught up in one aspect of the art (“ooh, shiny!”) that you blank out on another. Especially when that other is something as crucial as anatomy.

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