Sunday, 3 April 2016


Figure in a landscape

Jericho 2016 pre-varnish

12" x 9"
Alkyd oils on board

During the February bootcamp (more in a later blog) my main project was this small oil painting. I'd seen a wonderful publicity photo for the ITV drama Jericho with Jessica Raine standing in a Yorkshire moorland. It was so perfect I had to paint it. The result was a very mixed experience.

I started with a yellow ochre ground of acrylic and a carefully sketched drawing. The sky and landscape was very straightforward and done in a couple of sessions. Shadows came later and they needed to be fairly strong and crisp as it was taken in the summer I think.

Her figure was OK, but then I hit a really big problem. First off I'd somehow made a mistake with the proportions of her head. That was fairly easy to overcome. The other difficulty was trying to get some representation of a hand. I'm not normally phased by hands (see this and this), but at this scale it was just too difficult. Twice I tried and then decided to hide it and then later had another go and decided there was just enough of a hint as you see. The even bigger problem was painting her face; bearing in mind her head was just over 1 cm in height it was really, really fiddly and I don't tend to work small or in such fine detail. Eventually after very many attempts I got fairly close to what I wanted. Lesson learned; when painting figures, just use larger papers, boards or canvases.

The detail below shows some of the struggles and successes. I think the face was only a partial success, but the clouds and atmosphere turned out really well.

Detail of Jericho

A mixed result then. I wanted to really like this, but at the end of the day I don't believe I matched a perfect photo. There's still the story telling and mystery about the picture that appeals to me. So many questions could be asked and people will put their own interpretations on it. For me, I wasn't consciously aware of that; I just went and painted it. Something in me chose it of course and as with any painting aspects of me are expressed in it. This may be one of those paintings that demonstrates how a good composition can make up for some lapses in execution?

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