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Elena II

Updated: Sep 6, 2021

20.05.2021: A commissioned work destined to St. Moritz with a well-known motif. In 2019, I have already converted this photo template once into a portrait in 60/60 cm format and sold it in my exhibition last year.

The commissioner explicitly asked for this motif, but she gave me a lot of leeway and didn't give me any guidelines. We only agreed on the size of the painting and she mentioned in passing that she loves warm colours and that she would like to hang the painting in her bedroom. With these generous basic conditions, I really feel like working on this photo template again to compose a new painting.

This time I don't choose a square format, but a light vertical format of 50/60 cm, and instead of smooth, pre-primed canvas as in the last work, this time I cover the stretcher with raw jute fabric, which I prime with black gesso. In the meantime, I have also thought about the colour concept and this should also be clearly different from the first version of the painting:

I have been following the work of US artist Erin Hanson for some time. She creates impressionistic landscape paintings in incredibly dramatic, colourful and yet very differentiated colours. In my view, she is a master at perceiving moods in nature, intensifying these moods with colour and capturing them on canvas. In almost every painting she also plays very skilfully with the contrast between warm and cold colours. For a long time I wanted to base the colour concept for one of my paintings on a painting by Erin Hanson and with this second portrait of Elena I would like to take the opportunity. With my previous colour concepts, I have usually stuck to a single contrast, e.g. yellow-blue or red-green, but this portrait is now allowed to be a little more colourful for once. Since my commissioner obviously likes warm colours, I choose a painting by Erin Hanson in warm tones as a source of colour inspiration, but I make sure that I can also let the contrast of warm and cold tones play in my painting. One might object that this template with its many blue tones is anything but warm. However, I have also studied Erin Hanson's technique based on videos and it is still clearly recognisable in the work itself that the painting is built on a warm, red background. And as a start to my new painting tomorrow, I will therefore also begin with a warm red background...

21.05.2021: Two layers in a warm rust red applied with the paint roller and left to dry for three hours each. After that, there was only enough time for a few bold brush strokes with a broad brush in a lighter violet. I try to set off the figure in the background from the rest of the picture already. And with that, this day was already over...

04.06.2021: Finally, time to paint again today and the weather is also playing along - it's raining. Today I have to declare my colours for the figure and the background: the face in a pale, warm orange, the shadowy parts of the hair in a dark blue-violet, the lapel of the coat in olive green and the background in light blue.

05.06.2021: I still try to orientate myself colour-wise on the painting by Erin Hanson and I find that compared to the original, my painting still lacks warm red tones. Spontaneously, I decide to apply generously placed, bright orange contour lines and accents to try and strengthen the warm colour tones and thus also the contrast to the cool light blue of the background. Luckily it's not the first time I've done such a daring intervention, otherwise the result would probably have frightened me. In the meantime I know that 'too much' can easily be corrected in the next step. Next, I lighten the light areas of the face, bring some dark blue into the scene and try to calm down the mosaic-like background a bit more, without completely covering the broad brush strokes of the earlier layer...

06.06.2021: Today I try to complete this commission. For the lightest parts of the face, I finally add warm golden tones to the painting. Afterwards, I work on numerous corrections to the eyes, the lips, the nose, the hair and add a tiny spotlight to the right eye - that was still missing. Finally, I worked on the lapel of the coat again in a slightly lighter olive shade. That's it.

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