Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Gruesome Deformity

This one is called Gruesome Deformity. As you might guess, my wife was of course extremely pleased to pose for this one. It shows a woman looking at her reflection in the water of her washing basin. She’s horrified to find that her once beautiful face has deformed buy some spell or curse. The challenge was that viewer would see her face as she does, in a reflection in water, rather than straight away or in a mirror.

Not all the light that hits the surface of the water is going to be reflected back at the viewer, especially at such a steep angle. Reflections are stronger at shallow angles. This means there would be a limited range of values to work with in rendering the face. Also, only the highly lit areas of the face are going to reflect clearly. Dark areas would have very faint at best. Therefore, the light illuminating her face had to be a strong edge light that would show the form of her face, as well as bring out the texture of her diseased skin.

The sketch still doesn’t look quite right. It’s not reading as water. Maybe used motor oil, but not water. When shooting the photo reference, we used a dark metal pot because it gave us a stronger reflection. It's not looking like the white porcelain washing basin appropriate for her decor. I still needed a dark background for contrast because, again, only the strongly lit areas are being reflected. So I put the washing basin in shadow in the finish. It took a little more fudging of the values it a little bit, but I think its convincing enough in the end.

It’s oils on paper on MDF. 9” x 12”


  1. Great, great piece. I love that you kept the palette clean and nice so the boils are all the more jarring.

  2. I agree with Chris, that's actually the first thing I noticed. Such a sweet concept for this piece, man. I really like the approach. That little angle of light hitting the basin edge is really nice.