I spent most of yesterday re-thinking, then re-drawing, a Dangerous Career Babe. Again. And again.
The fifteenth in the series of 24, I'd expected this one to be relatively easy. I'd begun with a clear idea of what I wanted. But nothing I'd envisioned worked as well as I'd expected. I'm still not sure why. Now, with the study almost finished – and the main figure already drawn onto a 2.10 metre by 1.60 metre timber board and some of the main outline work begun – I am struggling with its details, the small, seemingly insignificant elements that animate the figure and give it authenticity.Time like these, I begin to hate the highly controlled, almost mechanical requirements of my hard-edged enamel paintings. More than once, over the past ten years, I have promised myself that I'd walk away from them. Although simple-looking, colourful and accessible, their precise black line-work demands careful plotting at the study stage followed by muscle-numbing control in execution. The areas of high gloss colour are, in reality, almost as flawless as the enameled body of a new car but are not sprayed but brushed, then painstakingly sanded back and brushed again, layer after layer.Then there's the carcinogenic miasma of enamel fumes that irritates the skin and burns the eyes, nasal cavities and throat, even through long-sleeved overalls and the industrial-strength filters of a face mask. A full-body suit is almost impossible to work in and maintain precise control over a brush, so Jim, my senior assistant, and I end up throwing our health concerns to the wind and shedding all protection in order to paint more fluidly.