“Domain” is part of a series of paintings using hooped skirts as a metaphor for the constrictions society places on women. In this piece, I wanted to depict a woman’s life as defined by her home, which becomes the empire over which she has control.
Before starting, I decided to use the old masters’ palette of colors – Yellow Ochre, Payne’s Grey, and Burnt Umber – to which I added Mars Black and Titanium White.
I covered the entire canvas in a thin layer of modeling paste and then fashioned the skirt and figure with another layer. I built up the background with more modeling paste. Next, I drew the scene that I imagined going on under the skirt with pencil and began painting. I painted the surfaces where I applied the second layer of texture brown and then wiped away the excess, exposing the “thumbprint” of the painting.
I moved through the rooms from left to right, using masking tape to help me keep the architectural lines straight. In the ballroom, I decided to apply modeling paste to the pillars and the drapes to give them more dimension. Later I added texure to the chandelier too.
After I completed the scene under the skirt I began on the figure. I wanted her dress to have the look of polished stone, as if the woman has become a part of her home.
I played with different colors for the background, finally settling on shades of Sienna that I highlighted with Ochre and Gold to mimic the sky that you can see through the windows. I then echoed the texture and pattern of the background in the walls of the ballroom.
I tried several different versions of the headdress and finally chose to add some hair to frame her face and a pendant to connect the hues of the background with those below the skirt.
“Domain” was complete.
With thanks to my husband, Harold Carmel for documenting this process.
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