I had no idea I would be spending my Sunday afternoon painting inside. There was no plan to do this. This was a spontaneous set up. I was not at my studio, but there were some materials laying around, so I simply worked with what I had.
Getting the Afternoon Started
My wife wanted to read her book. She was leaning back in the day bed near the open window. A breeze was gently blowing in and the air was fresh. Immersed in the book she was reading at the time, she agreed to let me do some studies of her, so long as she could rest. No problem. I laid down a sheet, set up my small easel, put out three colors on my palette with a white and started working.
There are some considerations when painting in one’s living room. It is a bit of a “bull in the china shop” type of set-up. Once the set up was secure, it was time to compose the canvas. The size of the board I had available was nine inches by twelve inches. So, I chose a portrait orientation from the shoulders up. The other considerations were about the interior.
A Little Tricky Inside
I was not in the studio and I was taking the scene as it was given to me. The lighting would be called ‘arbitrary’, meaning it was an uncontrolled lighting situation. There was backlighting from the window behind the subject and bounced light from another window behind me. Those are two different sources of light that needs to be dealt with.
There is another reason an interior scene is sometimes tricky. Some interiors are full of objects and nick-naks. This forces the artist to make choices about what to select or omit. Using the concept of “selective focus” helps edit out all the extras and keep the details on the main subject. This helps to make some scenes less intimidating to work with. However, when all of this comes together, some really nice things can come about. The main thing is to always keep in mind the desired outcome.
If you are a painter and have never done a portrait or an arbitrary interior scene, they are a challenge and yet still fun to do. They are even easier if your sitter is comfortable and resting. In the quietness of the interior, I was able to work away and eventually rest a little bit myself.