A Chaotic Nocturnal Reverie

I worked on this painting for about a year and recently decided that it’s finally done. I’m calling it “A Chaotic Nocturnal Reverie” and it’s 16 x 20 inches, oil on canvas:

A Chaotic Nocturnal Reverie

A Chaotic Nocturnal Reverie

Initially this painting was going to be for an erotic art show that a friend was having, but over time it ended up being more restrained in that regard and I decided to make it more arcane than profane and stress the psychotic over the erotic.

I spent about 65 hours painting and maybe another 10 to 20 hours on planning and drawing. I had to change the face and figure many times since my original planning had a bunch of issues. I basically painted them over to the point where I could have finished several other similarly-sized paintings in the time I spent on this one. It was worth it though, because I have learned a ton and my next paintings will go much smoother. I have learned a hard lesson about planning and using weird blurry photo figure references that are basically useless and cause more harm than help…next time I might hire a figure model instead.

I also had to radically alter the overall tone of the painting a bunch of times, especially the tombstones, in order to get closer to the overall look and feel I was going for. The sky was probably the only thing that was not painted over a bunch of times, although just like everything else I radically changed it halfway through. One reason I had all these problems is that I was excited to start the painting so I thought I would leave some things to figure out later – that didn’t work out so well this time.

These are the main colors I used:

Flesh tones: Titanium white, raw umber, yellow ochre, cadmium red hue

Landscape: Terre verte, yellow ochre, raw umber, titanium white

Sky / clouds: Mars black, titanium white, ultramarine blue, yellow ochre

In my newest painting I am using cobalt blue and cadmium yellow medium for the greens and am liking that better that the terre verte + raw umber which doesn’t provide much coverage and really sinks in a lot. By “sinks in” I mean it dries out and becomes very matte-looking, so I need to rub oil onto it later to get it to look more glossy like the rest of the painting. I normally need to do that in places anyway but it was more of an issue with this painting than usual.

Here are a couple detail views of the painting:

A Chaotic Nocturnal Reverie (detail 1)

A Chaotic Nocturnal Reverie (detail 1)

A Chaotic Nocturnal Reverie (detail 2)

A Chaotic Nocturnal Reverie (detail 2)

As is often the case, I love parts of this and am loathe to look at other parts…but I guess that is pretty common among artists. Time to start the next project, hopefully learning from this one! I took something like 19 pages of notes on this as I was working on it, so I have plenty of info to digest about what worked well and what I want to avoid next time.


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