November 25, 2009
This is an earlier version: (I changed the bottom left corner a bit and the rendering of the corner of the building, and played with some of the edges.
"My First Painting" .Portrait of Zoucheng girl. 16"x20". Oil on linen.
Detail from "My First Painting"
Closeup of head from "My First Painting". If you click on this picture twice, you will be able to see how the paint layers were built up. The main idea was to keep the edges soft around the mouth and eyes.
This little girl watched me and my student friend Nancy painting plein air in a small village near Lake Erhai, Dali, in Yunnan China. She was fascinated by Nancy's oil paints and wanted to try them out. I have been working on this painting ever since (from before June 2009). I painted and repainted the head at least five times before I managed to capture something of the expression on her face that I was looking for, and at the same time keep a freshness to the paint application. She had a wonderful intelligent and earnest look on her face, that reflected her enthusiasm for painting. I think she would have watched us all day if she could have.
I only just finished this painting this week since I had been thinking about what to do with the background to complement the portrait from a design point of view and at the same time to tell a story. So I included the brush holder with the oil painting brushes sticking out of it, and the paper with her painting on it, and called the painting "My First Painting". The white and dark shapes complemented the notan structure of the painting, and help draw the viewers eye across the canvas, to take in the various textures I used in the background.
Anyway, in 30 years time, look out for a famous female plein air painter from Zoucheng village in China, and you'll know where her early inspiration might have come from!