Jen Koch, 2018. Acrylic on canvas.
Blue Ladies developed out of a personal challenge to myself. Up until the creation of this piece, my figure drawing was hyperfocused on masculine forms. When I tried to create feminine artworks, the body shapes were an echo of my habit, with masculine proportions and hard edges.
To overcome this habit, I began studying – and subsequently creating my own studies of – female forms with soft curves, skin folds, and wide hips. As this is my body shape, I learned a few things about myself and how I perceive my body on the journey.
Subject matter aside, this piece also has the largest dimensions of any piece I’ve created to date. I experimented with adding gel mediums, worked into the paint both on the palette and directly into the canvas. There’s something viscerally satisfying about applying paint with palette knives, and in using sharp edged tools to suggest soft forms.
I applied several washes of color to the subjects after the background was firm. I considered flesh tones for the figures, but ultimately decided on maintaining the original colors I’d chosen for my palette, and allowing the figures to remain tonal studies in blues and greens.
Overall, this project was a deep learning experience. Larger canvases are a challenge, as I’m accustomed to the art space of a sheet of letter paper. Ultimately I came out of the process with a better understanding of how acrylic paint moves and how palette knives function as art tools. It also awakened an interest in the subject matter – I’ll be painting more full figured women!