Her Imperial Highness Luciana, weary from the season's first grand ball, was preparing herself for bed. She could still hear the last strains of the violin as guests prepared to leave the palace. Her maidservant had just slipped a diaphanous white nightgown over Luciana's head when she caught a glimpse of herself in the glittering mirrored mosaics on the wall of her luxurious bedroom.
One day, she thought, I will travel my country and know my people. No one will see me as the youngest daughter of King Amedeo and I will no longer carry the burden of this golden crown. People will talk to me, Luciana, and I will know that they are truly seeing me and not the noble blood running through my veins.
This story of Luciana only occurred to me after the art work was completed. I wonder if it would have been easier had the story been written before I started painting. Something tells me that the painting must come first. Much like a recipe, the general idea is kept in mind as the art moves along but there are no specific stories created until the painting is done.
However, if you know me, you know that I rarely follow a recipe to the letter. Whenever close friends ask for a copy of a recipe I have made for them, I have to add notes in the margin because I have changed either the procedure or the ingredients.
The same is true in art where, thankfully, experimentation is encouraged since no one wants to have art that is exactly the same as another artist. This princess is based on a lesson by Muriel Stegers who painted a lovely angel she titled Amber. Muriel's lovely art can be seen on her "Must Art" Facebook page.
I knew when I saw my background that this would not be an angel.
Scraps of paper I already had from other projects found their way onto the background:
- a piece of napkin,
- sheet music for the trombone section from a high school band book, and
- remnants of delicate script in old letters, the latter from The Graphics Fairy, where I found an interesting selection of vintage images that were mostly created before 1923, and are in the public domain.
Once I had a satisfactory background and preliminary sketch of the face, I started the underpainting of the darker areas.
This is the ugly stage that every painting must go through before emerging as a beautiful final piece.
Finally, a face was emerging and I was happy so far.
At this point, I had to set her aside for a week or so for fear of ruining her. I didn’t know how to work the hair. Muriel had chosen to allow her paint to drip to suggest the hair on her angel. It has taken me some time to like the drips of paint on works of art and I wasn’t quite ready to have them on mine just yet.
The background seemed to suggest quite serendipitously, a hairstyle that would suit her and give her the exotic look I was seeking.
However, doubts set in. I decided to import my incomplete painting into Procreate and I drew different hairstyles hoping to find something that would give her a bit of a different look. I didn’t like any of the hairstyles I tried. This is the beauty of Procreate for a work already in progress. It’s possible to change the art work digitally before using an actual brush and paint on canvas or paper.
Finally, after much hesitation, I decided that since the background had already blocked in a hairstyle for me, it was just meant to be. I followed the lines and darkened the area above her head.
After this step, it was easy to finish her. A little lip colour, some adjustments in her gown, and she was done.