Painting a Skull Beginning to End and My Thoughts Along the Way

So I’ve done in progress posts before, imperfectly and without much to say about what I was doing. Today I decided I would do better. I would take photos along the way at specific times and I stopped along the way to journal out my thoughts.

This small painting is a study for a larger painting and possible series I am going to call picked to the bone. I don’t want to give away too much. Mostly because even I don’t really know whats going to fully happen with this project. However, many studies are going to need to happen to get me where I think I want to be. Some will be birds, small animals, landscapes of trees, ponds and hills and most challenging for me, the human skeleton.

This is a skull. The last time I rendered a human skull was about 15 years ago in my first year of art school. So, I guess its been a while.

Here is the beginning! A promising blank sheet of Strathmore 140lb pound watercolor paper that i have torn in half. The light coming from the window is perfect for painting today and my coffee is freshly brewed and inviting!

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I’m just getting started here and already finding all the bumps, divets, cracks and variations of the skull challenging.

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At this point I started to really notice the age of the skull in the photo I was working from. This lead me to think about the person who this skull belonged too. How long ago did they live? Was it a very long time ago? What did they see happen in their lifetime? Or was it not long at all and the process of decomposition just happens faster then anticipated? How did they perish? Gently or violently? And so forth.

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At this point I have forgotten all about the skull once being alive. It is now only an object. A very intricate and interesting object but lifeless.
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My thoughts having shifted to understanding this complex object are now transforming it into a painting. I’m thinking about colors, textures and volume and aesthetics. I think I will add a red splat.

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Here it is completed. All in all I’m pretty happy with the result. I set out to learn more about the skull and I succeeded at that. That being said there are a few things I’d like to be different so I will probably make at least one more.

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