From time to time, I will bring you up to date with my current projects and provide insight into my process. I always have 2-3 paintings going on at any given time; some for commission, some as demos for teaching, and some for the purposes of experimentation and my own expression.
Currently, I am working on an 18“ x 36” oil portrait on canvas of a young Hindu Kathak dancer. In this work, I am interested in the costume of the dancer, and the spiritual nature of the dance form.
I love working from life, but I don't always have the luxury of having a live model on hand when I am working, so I begin by taking a lot of reference photos in different poses and showing details, like the hands, the face, and costume details.
The stories in Kathak performance generally derive from ancient Indian sources and center around the Hindu gods Krishna, Shiva and Devi. To get that connection in my painting, I turned to Photoshop to create the composite using a sculpture of Shiva as Nataraja, Lord of the Dance from the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago.
From my days as a graphic designer, I developed a love of pattern, so I included a band of Indian design at the top in my first layer of painting (below). I like the way it unifies the color of the costume, so I think I will keep it. As you can see, I roughed in the statue and pedestal and focused on the portrait and figure. The entire composition was “drawn” directly on the canvas with my paint brush. I used a cardboard insert from a frozen pizza as a template for the circle. I researched Indian columns, but decided to use a plain column that I have at home. The examples I found were too ornate and would detract from the portrait and the relationship between the face and the sculpture.
After spending more time on the face, I moved to the pedestal and sculpture. The face isn't complete, as I need to refine the likeness and skin tones. Still, it was more developed than the other parts of the painting, so I had to move on to other areas.
I did battle with the perspective of the pedestal and the base of the sculpture. I resolved the issues in the version below. Next, I turned my attention to the arm and costume in the lower half of the portrait. My challenge was to achieve a sense of transparency through the green veil over the front of the torso. At this juncture, I plan to return to the face and then work my way to the top part of the costume and the gold band running alongside the veil. Then, it will be time for final touches. Stay tuned!
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