Here is some of the process for finishing my Rama painting currently on exhibition at the Stride Gallery until the end of this month.
I left off with the painting at the fall of light stage. I must have painted and repainted it 5 times. Learning that its okay to rework and wipe away. The creation of this piece became a very organic process. I also lost my reference material when my laptop had to be reformatted.
I wanted to create darker shadows and more realistic form with this piece than in my previous sacred images. I also wanted the dark skin tone to resemble a rocky statue. I had a picture that I ripped out of a national geographic that had a great stone texture that I used as my inspiration. I added pits and cracks and highlights.
I decided to have Rama pulling back a lightning bolt instead of a traditional arrow. I taped the shape off and painted it in with leafing resin. It takes at least an hour for it to become tacky and ready to lay leaf. My idea is that I can create crisper shapes when I pull the tape of afterward.
After gently laying down the gold leaf I rubbed it with the back of my knuckles because the brushes I have are a little too rough and tear the gold leaf leaving an undesirable cracked texture. This is the first test I have for doing it this way and it has turned out quite good for being a total noobie. I clear coated the gold leaf afterward to protect it, keep it shiny and to stall any future oxidation that might occur.
I drew out half of the bow shape onto a large sheet of paper so that I could have a symmetrical bow. I cut out the sheet and used it as a placement guide. I followed the paper guide with masking tape and gently cut it out to match using my matte knife where necessary.
I figure out an appropriate angle to place the top part of the bow and then laid down the masking in the same manner as on the lower half. Afterward, I placed the guilding glue or size and waited until it became tacky to the touch.
Here is the gold leaf applied to the inner shape. You can see the bits that are loose over the masking tape as they have nothing to adhere to. I gently brush them away and try to salvage as many pieces as I can leaving the rest to fall to the floor like rice at a wedding.
I removed the tape, cleaned up the edges and applied the protective coating over top of the gold. It shines brilliantly and beautifully. far better than any gold paint ever could. I like the implied line of the bow string and decided not to paint it in at all.
The next stage as time consuming. Since I had no plan or reference I had to improvise a flowing robe in white paint. I used a slightly translucent white and scrubbed it to give it a silky appearance. Beneath each foot I decided to have him stand on the robe as if it is helping him to float in the red void. I left some of the robe at the point of construction lines to give it a lyrical feel and to reveal some of the steps in creating it.
I gave him a helmet with the fabric coming from the top of it. I decided not to paint it with shadows which would give it solidity and weight. Instead it is more like an outline or X-ray style. I did not paint in the gems or add any gold so that the simple color palette would not be disturbed.
Here is a shot of the full piece in the studio before heading to the gallery space for hanging.
Here is a current active link to the Gallery page for more info and a great article about the work: