I've had several attempts at this cast over the last couple of years in both charcoal and oil. It's a particularly tricky one, mainly because of the hair. This version is painted in oil and was completed in early 2014.
The underlying drawing was fairly successful but the overall effect is a little too monochromatic, which gives a rather bleached-out look (although this photograph seems to have exacerbated it). More sensitive handling of the halftones would have been a good thing.
Predictably, the hair was a problem again. For one thing the hair on the cast itself is highly conceptualised and doesn't remotely resemble real hair. It's more like a jumble of pasta or something. The trick, I think, is basically to paint the shadows, rather than to paint the hair as such - but even then it's difficult to give it the same sculptural quality. With so much 'going on', visually, it's also incredibly hard to see individual shapes from a distance.
The rest of the cast was fairly plain sailing. The face is relatively simple since, being highly idealised, there isn't a lot of character to grapple with. The base was very simple, as was the phrygian cap. The only other thing I might do differently if I tackle this cast again, is to be a little more sensitive with the handling of the background, which could do with a little more variation and being somewhat lighter in value overall.
Ben Laughton Smith
Contemporary works of art in the classical tradition.