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Friday, October 1, 2010


This month's challenge for the Fast Friday Fabric Challenge group was to work with Chiaroscuro (key-are-oh-scure-row). Chiaroscuro is the technique of using dramatic lighting, where the lights are very light and the darks very dark, almost as if a spotlight has been cast on the scene. Some of the best examples are by Rembrandt van Rijn and Carravaggio. Rembrandt's The Nightwatch is one good example, Caravaggio's Judith and the head of Holofernes is another, although I think I like Judith primarily because of the bible story behind it.

At the time this call was issued, I didn't have a whole lot of images to work with. I thought I'd give this photo of Meg at prom this last year a shot. It isn't the best example, only because a stronger raking light is easier to work with.

Here's what I worked up. I used Lumiere, Dyna-flow and standard acrylic paints with textile medium; Prismacolor, Mondiale and Caran d'ache pencils and the earring and the sparkles on her dress were done with a metallic gel pen. I intend to go back and add some crystals for her earrings and perhaps a couple of tiny ones on her dress after I have quilted it.

It is difficult to get the darks dark enough without making it look like she has a good sprinkling of dirt on her. While the shot at left is a little washed out (I shot it at night inside with a flash) not using a flash leaves it too yellow.

I think I will add netting over her hair to give it a shadow effect. I'm not sure what to do to darken her face and skin. While it is a good rendition of the human form, it just isn't dark enough and the highlights light enough to make it a good example of chiaroscuro at the moment. Her eyes are actually green and I need to add a little fleck of white to make it come alive and I need to work with that a bit more.

The mouth is a tad awkward, while a reasonable mouth, it isn't Meg's. I will also work more on her hand.

I think it might have been easier if I had done this larger, it is only 8 1/2" x 11". With a larger format, you can get in and do more detail to make it darker or whatever. I felt like I was running the risk of making her look like she had dirt or facial hair. I think, however, I may try to add some more washes over the top to try to darken the dark areas.

If I could work off the computer screen, I think it would have been easier. The paper print I made put the whole thing into about the same value range, so I wasn't really seeing what I needed to.

I think this is a passable first effort, but certainly one which needs some more work.

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