She Has A Hammer (No. 14 in 52 Portraits)

As part of the 52 Portraits in 52 Weeks challenge, participants are sharing their work they've done in various classes. Recently, one of them shared her painting of the Lady of Shallot inspired by the John William Waterhouse painting of in a river-boat, her curse broken and she is thus doomed.

Well that might have been well and good in the nineteenth century, but this is the twenty-first! My writer-self came to the fore, and I decided to paint a Lady of Shallot that was in charge of her own life and was ready to embrace it head-on instead of watching reflections of the world pass her by.

I was helped along by this article ("Lady of Shallot: Our Modern Version of the Curse", a must-read on the Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood blog) on one of the paintings and particularly one sentence: “I will break my own mirrors.”

I decided to use Atelier Interactive paints, supplementing with some Cadmium-free Liquitex Yellow Medium (for the greens), Golden heavy body Titanium White and Golden fluid Carbon Black.

Her hair started off red, as I had sort of thought that I would glaze various colors until it became darker. A lot of fixing went on in this painting: her arm was too short, her hands were too small (one of them still is), her circlet was crooked. Her skin ended up pretty orangey for someone who basically spent her life indoors. For a while she was short an eyebrow.

I thought I'd never finish this one. I don't know if it was heading into a full moon, or work and family stress, or that I'd just dodged a cold, but the past week I felt very flat. She stayed as a sketch for the longest time. The motivation came back, in part because I grabbed five minutes one evening to fix the too-small hand.

She carries a hand loom with her, ready to tell her story, and not those that she saw reflected by the mirror.

Having the mirror there, made me think of the Molotow Liquid Chrome marker I got in an Art Snacks box a few months ago, so I pulled it out to bring some shine to the broken mirror, a reflection in her eyes, and in the jewels in her circlet and bodice.

I'm still not happy with her hands, but unfortunately, I left the lid off my wet palette. Thank God the Atelier Interactives have a longer drying time so I could punch through the skin and still make a few changes here and there. I seriously need to do  some studies of hands... 

And here she is! She's on a 16"x20" canvas, so I still have to scan her in properly, but in the meantime...