After finishing “In the garden” (see previous blog),
I went straight on to this, another figure painting. Usually, I switch to some other theme – landscape or wildlife most often, but sometimes a still life.
When painting that single female figure and our ever present cat “In the garden” it occurred to me that I had not painted a pair of figures since 2016. So that became a fixed idea, find a setting where I could show a man and a woman together. A beach scene seemed the obvious setting. Just to emphasise the setting I gave the woman some rather Italian looking sunglasses and made her lick an ice cream. The ice cream mix suggested itself because I though the pink would pop.
The picture is set up with two thirds, one third horizontal division. The upper third is notional spatial "background", occupied by sea and the two "foreground" figures occupy the greater proportion of the canvas. They lie on their sides, occupying most of this space and are arranged to reflect each other, so the man’s arm which props up his head as he looks out to sea in the lower right is echoed by the woman’s arm which brushes back her hair from her face in the upper left. The line created by her arm is extended into the diagonal of the man’s bent leg. Both figures have their limbs cropped and their features minimised to concentrate attention on the torsos. I suspect I gave the man a few extra vertebrae to get the down curve I wanted.
Curving upwards, the woman’s hip generated the lines of the waves rolling in and breaking on the beach.
The painting is dominated by the skin colour of the couple, a mix of flesh pink and chrome orange which I used to indicate sun tan that I first used in “A son of the Nile” in 2020”. Here it keyed in the complementary blue of the sea and the ochre of the wet beach. An association of ideas suggested the Naples Yellow of the dry sand. To break up the visual base of the figures I put in a light red towel and the man’s body.
As usual the work breaks up the areas of colour with lines. The cat “In the garden” was outlined in Cerulean Blue. This was the first time I had used anything other than unpainted white canvas to break up the areas of colour. Here I have used violet in areas that might be seen as being “in shadow”.