A couple of weeks ago I completed the first in a series of four of five paintings that will constitute The Metamorphosis Project. In total, this painting took about four-and-a-half weeks to complete. The pencil drawing was relatively simple (mainly the fabric pattern was a beast). I transferred the drawing using my opaque projector and toned my canvas (40 x 35 inches) a very light neutral gray (about 7 or 8 on a scale of 9). While the tone was drying, I did the following color study: (As you can see, I didn't quite finish it.) After the tone was dry on the main canvas, I did an ebauche or very turpy first pass. Here are two pictures:
The ebauche helps me to work out the form a little bit better. I also paint relatively thinly so I like what my paintings look like when I have done two or more passes.
After I completed the ebauche, I basically started wherever I was interested (in this case the brown leather suitcase), and went steadily along completing the second pass. In no place did I find the work tedious because there was such a variety of things I was painting: silk lining, leather, jacquard, the brass fittings on the luggage. I got to make up my dung beetle (I married a dung beetle body with rainbow scarab colors because I didn't want the Ungeziefer to look unlovable).
However, I was stumped for the background for a couple of days. I wanted to do a background that wasn't completely realistic looking, that would capture some of the weirdness of Kafka's text. I decided to paint a layer of cadmium yellow and let it dry, and use it as a base for a darker second pass and let some of the cad yellow show through and vibrate. The darkness over the light was intended also to suggest the figurative metamorphosis that happened to Gregor over the years of his life, but that was completed in his sleep. Here is the final painting:
Thanks to Lexie Pitney for providing the beautiful vintage suitcases as well as some of the fabric!