Low Light Murmur

This is a recent oil painting of an old friend, from a very old photo (I took the photo as a potential painting in 2001, my freshman year in college, and tucked it away for eventual painting... only to rediscover it when I was beginning to create new work for grad-school application in late 2014!)

I loved the heavy lighting and golden tones of the picture. (Heavy lighting/shadow is a common theme in my paintings.) I also have an odd love of partial portraits. There is something fascinating about a portrait without a face, or with only a portion of the face exposed.  The Image becomes less human, more shapes and mass and tones.  Our brains still fill in the rest because we know that it is there, even if we can't see it.

And so, Low Light Murmur came to be. Started, as all my oil paintings do, with an under-sketch in Ocher yellow.

Then the building of shadows and form, still in the same undertone. This technique helps to place where the tones will build later and adds an underlying luminescence to the thin layers of glazed on oil paint.

Once the yellow tones are in, the deep reds and darkest tones are layered on. When painting in oils, all of the shadows are transparent, so they are applied first to the painting.  Highlights and skin tones (any sort of color tinted with white) is applied last, to build up the layers.


Continuing to fill in the deeper colors and shadows of the fabric.

The beginning of the background is added.  Having the dark base makes all of the lighter tones in the painting pop.  Shadows on the skin are filled in.

I decided to make the edge of the background fade to blue/purple, in the hopes that it, as a contrasting color, would make the golden skin tones and highlights stand out on the figure. Success!

Skin tones, highlights on the fabric and little details continue to build.  Final details in the lower half of the face are set.

And then, the work is done.

Low Light Murmur, Oil on Canvas, 19x47"

Low Light Murmur, Oil on Canvas, 19x47"