Girl from Rotterdam

Oil portrait on card, 8" x 6". 2015 by Helen Davison

“Girl from Rotterdam”, 8″ x 6″, oil on card

I am so behind with posting new work. In particular there are a couple of much larger portraits that have been sitting around for weeks waiting for me to photograph them properly. I think they’re going to have to wait around a little longer too.

In the meantime here’s a tiny portrait from a couple of months ago, painted over a couple of sessions but in an alla prima style. This is one I haven’t taken very much time and care to photograph well, so apologies for that. In the flesh it is quite charming and I enjoyed using pure Viridian in the draped clothing. It creates a vibrant contrast in an otherwise earthy palette.

One huge problem that I had when painting it, and is now also apparent in the finished surface quality, is the weirdly plastic, non-adsorbant nature of the primer I used on the card. Instead of the usual acrylic gesso I have been using, this was a specific oil based version from Roberson. It squeaks when dry. Not a good sign I’ve decided.

I’ve been doing a lot of experimenting lately with different surface textures – gessoed paper, various toned grounds, different primers, panels and so on. It’s great to learn what suits your own way of putting down paint, but it can also be incredibly frustrating when you feel that you’re fighting your materials on occasion. As if painting the correct shapes wasn’t hard enough!