Undeterred after the joys of drawing Homer's beard in charcoal, I jumped into this painting of Ajax with both feet! The cast itself is a good four feet tall and the sheer quantity of space the eye has to traverse meant it was tricky to get the underlying drawing right. I certainly had the value of standing well back from the subject hammered well and truly home, after a first attempt drawn at somewhat closer range ended in frustration and abandonment.
Curly beard and waving locks notwithstanding, I decided to make life a little more challenging still, by painting the coloured background in alizarin crimson. Anyone who has tried using it will know how incredibly staining it is. During my first attempt at the cast I tried, foolishly, to work fairly directly and establish the contour painting wet into wet. Result: a bright pink halo around the entire thing. Lesson learnt!
So, take 2, and I stood much further back and did a fairly comprehensive underpainting in raw umber. I left the final painting of the background until much later and kept it simply as an approximation of the overall value of the background done in raw umber. Once I'd progressed the cast painting much further, I then built up the background colour in a series of glazes.
All in all a good exercise in learning some of the difficulties of working large scale in colour - and not a completely unsatisfactory end result, now I've got over the traumatic experience of actually painting it.