The thing of course about having an endlessly enquiring mind is that it can mean you end up with a very full plate sometimes. I love a full plate, both metaphorically and literally speaking {!}, but I do have to be careful not to burn out from continuous adrenalin-fuelled action.

Please remind me of this when I’m moaning about having no energy to do anything.

Anyway. Here are the stages of my most recent large scale figure painting. I now have five figure paintings completed, which I guess means I can call it a series, or at least a cohesive, if small, body of work. Yay! I’ll keep doing them because I love them, but that is one thing on my list for this year I feel comfortable ticking off. Go me.

Apologies for the blurriness and lighting issues. Apparently I’m moving so fast right now even auto focus can’t keep up with me.


You can see I started with a composition that didn’t really work. One of those ‘great in my head but not so much on the canvas’ things, it felt too unbalanced. That’s why I use chalk to map out my ideas; a quick swipe with a damp cloth and it’s gone.

I also painted the entire background orange as I was curious about starting with a coloured ground rather than the white canvas.


Once happy with my composition {which has a much more ‘go big or go home’ feel to it}, I blasted in with some colours and circles, roughly mapping out the light and dark areas. I did have a reference image, which was useful for shape {even though I exaggerated it slightly} and working out tones.


One thing I love about working large is the capacity for big swoops of paint and energetic brush movement. It really comes across in the final painting.

I realised again that at no point do I consider using realistic skin tones when painting figures. Maybe that’s my ‘thing’. I’m never bothered about realism really; I’d rather go beyond it and explore the energy, the unseen elements, the what ifs.


You can see how the first orange layer peeks through here and there. I really like that. The colours turned out cooler overall than I imagined, but I’m ok with that. I’m happy with this one. I’m calling it ‘I’m Ready’, for her stance, and because I am. :)

I'm Ready {Tara Leaver}

I’m Ready
acrylic on canvas
60 x 80 cm


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