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Where shall we eat?

I try not to work in series and to move from one subject to another but this followed straight on after “Sitting sideways with Alfie”. Same model, same chair, but different lighting. I could not resist this pose, which frequently gets adopted round here as my model consults her Ipad resting it against her knee. I enjoyed the way the raised leg was locked by the foot resting on the other thigh. The contrasting toe of the sock made it domestic.

The moment became charismatic as winter sunlight painted great liquid swathes of light across her and the chair she sat on. These became the focus of my attention. I was taken by the contrast between the way the light caught the many wrinkles in the heavy woollen cardigan she is wearing and the smooth upholstery around her. I saw it as a throwback to Simone Martini and early mediaeval painting – complex folds heavily accented by shadows and highlights. There was also a little triangle of light catching the top edge of the Ipad.

I composed the image directly on the canvas, without my usual preliminary sketch. I picked a low view point to emphasise the cocked leg. There had to be a balance between the overall simplicity of the elements and some incidentals to imply the domestic setting. To me there are two shapes – the pyramid of the chair with the face at its apex and an L shaped brown rectangle made up of the credenza and the shadow of a return wall. The arms of the chair are bound by the edges of the canvas and there I have included the framed photo that feature previously and a pot plant in its woven bamboo cache pot.

This picture is as much about colour as the sitter and her seat. There are three principal colours. The chair is a neutral cream but the sunlight turned parts of it into a pale Naples yellow. I chose to repeat it in the hair colour. The leggings are a smoky greenish blue, similar to the neckerchief. It did not sing as the colour for a large scale element so I shifted this to a pure blue because the blouse was also blue, albeit a darker indigo. That choice led to the background colours being set in reds and browns. The shadows areas on the chair derive from introducing some of the blue from the leggings into the yellow base and then using some of the brown from the credenza to indicate deeper shadows. Interesting to me was the way I could use the same yellow ochre for the piping on the two arms of the chair but make it read quite differently because of the context of the adjacent colours. I mean to explore this further in the coming year as you will see in the landscape currently on my easel when I show it to you on line. The blue green from the sock and the pinks from the face are repeated in the background. The cardigan wrinkles and wood graining provide graphic complexity to contrast with the large areas of yellow fabric.

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