Post-Spectrum Updates: “Isabelle”

Isabelle Acrylic on Panel, 53cm x 45.5cm

Acrylic on Panel, 53cm x 45.5cm


Wow, I haven’t posted for six months! I do have plenty of new work going on, though – just been head down in front of the easel.

I’m currently enjoying being on the downhill side of the Spectrum 22 submissions deadline. Isabelle is a piece I’ve been working on since late September, with an eye towards submitting it for consideration for volume 22. I finished it about 3 weeks before the deadline, but still had to get it photographed. My artist friend Sofie Arloff helped me by shooting a much better photo than what I could have done alone. It still isn’t fully accurate to the painting, but I’m slowly getting used to that being the case with photographing artwork, and I really appreciate the assistance!

Isabelle, the model, is the daughter of dear friend from those wild 80’s club/music scene days, and she kindly asked to be painted as an elf. The armour is based on some ornate Italian plate I’d seen.

The technique is basically many, many thin washes of acrylic over two coats of gesso on a masonite panel. I love how the result looks when one is right in front of the artwork, but it hasn’t been easy to capture with a camera. I used the limited palette that I enjoy so much: Mars Black, Titanium White, Yellow Ochre and (the always awesome) Venetian Red. I used a touch of Burnt Sienna and Alizarin Crimson in a few spots. I didn’t use any blue pigment. I learned a lot about how to manipulate colours by placing them next to other colours. It’s one thing to read about this principal, but very exciting to actually see it working for you.

The idea of painting text into the picture is nicked straight from the work of  William Mortensen. It felt like it fit the formal setup of the image.

Special thanks yet again to Howard Lyon, whose Muddy Colors articles have been of immense help and inspiration to me.

I’ll post more of the new works in the next few weeks.

4 thoughts on “Post-Spectrum Updates: “Isabelle”

    • Thanks so much! Your recent work has been inspirational, so it means a lot to see you say that. I’d be very pleased if it’s selected, but the competition is so fierce… still, you don’t get in if you don’t try!

  1. Beautiful portrait, Dave. The fact that she looks as if she’s about to move or speak contrasts in some weird way with the very formal pose. And technically, I am in awe that you can squeeze so much color out of that limited palette!

    • Thanks, Nick! I’ve learned so much about colour by working with those smaller palettes, and I’ve only just started, really. Painting this picture taught me a *lot*, and I’m hoping I can hit this level again for the next one.

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