Clothed in the dawn

OK so here’s a bit I’m really excited about, perhaps because I have worked so hard to resolve it. The pink/orange clothing of the standing woman is working beautifully at last! Once I’d settled on the ambitious idea of changing the color cast across a single figure I’d created quite a challenge for myself – matching the woman’s dress to the pink/orange shawl I had chosen for her pretty early on (and fallen in love with).

As I mentioned before, I cut this shawl very carefully from a single sheet of glass (Lamberts 1067) that changed colour across it’s width. It provides a lovely link to the sunrise, drawing those warm and nourishing colours across and down into the bottom of the composition. But I wanted the dress to subtly shift in hue as well, like the shawl does, and finding the right glass was a challenge. I’d tried several options that I wasn’t happy with, so decided to move on to other parts of the window and wait for inspiration. Today it arrived!

Here she is finally, clothed in the dawn, followed by a work-in-progress pic of how she had been stuck for several days. Quite a difference..

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pink dress (before)

Cutting Joseph’s robe provided the turning point for resolving the woman’s dress. It is a warm, bold chestnut brown, almost ruby in places, and commands a real presence. The colour is so strong that it overwhelmed the dark muted pinks I had been experimenting with for the woman. I realized straight away that her clothing had to connect to his colour-wise.

It was ruby flashed glass that provided the solution. Rubies are made with a thin skin (the ‘flash’) of red glass fused onto a ‘body’ glass of a different colour. It can provide much more colour variation than standard glass which is the same colour all the way through. In regular glass the tone/value change corresponds to how thick or thin that particular piece of the sheet is (hence the lack of tonal variation in most machine –made glasses –they’re too even and perfect). Flashed glasses can vary enormously across a single sheet because the colour layer itself is very thin and can disappear to almost nothing to expose the underlayer.

The right hand edge of Joseph’s robe is cut in ruby on green, the right side of the woman’s dress is a very rare ruby on pink (no longer available). I cut one small piece of Joseph’s robe in ruby-on-yellow and used paler parts of the same sheet for the left side of the woman’s dress. Here’s the lovely connection between them and across the window. Incidentally, I also placed a small piece of Joseph’s robe colour in the lower rh corner of the window behind the lamb.

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The woman’s tummy area (adjacent the man’s face) is a little bright but will be in shadow, so receive a fair amount of paint. The underside of the sleeve is perhaps a little pale but also will be shaded, so it’ll all work out perfectly in the end. These are examples of the numerous tiny adjustments to tone/value that are made whilst glasspainting. It’s possible to tone down colour intensity some as well.

Whilst I’m on the subject of tone/value (the lightness or darkness of a piece of glass) if you squint at the woman’s dress you can see that, overall, it is darker than the shawl. I’m imagining that it’s made from a darker fabric (in artspeak, that it’s ‘local colour’ is darker). So now, even though the colours are different left and right, the value/tone (lightness or darkness) of the dress in relationship to the shawl is consistent.

One of my cardinal rules for colour/glass selection is this: if the bare-naked glass works well the window will be successful. If the coloured glass alone looks good, without any glass painting, if it conveys the spirit of the subject, and if the composition reads successfully… then all is well. Whew!

Notice that I’m still avoiding the issue of the woman’s too-dark hand, for now at least, because there are so many demands from that one piece of glass. It must match her face; be light enough to brighten the upraised palm; be of a different tone/value than the sleeve (this may be the one that has to go); and look like it belongs to her. I’ve even thought about getting her to wear gloves!

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