I like painting the figure because of the compositional elements it allows, but when I include a face I can't help but focus on the likeness instead of the elements that compose it. I've reworked the face a bit today to soften it and give it the same brushwork as the rest of the body. Maybe a bit more work to do.
I chose this image because of the interesting shape created by the bikini top. It's a pure, flat black applied with even strokes, and I like the contrast with the the molded body and the tonal differences of all that skin. Her whole front is in shadow, and this was a challenge to make her appear rounded. The black bikini reminded me of the hat ribbon in Manet's portrait of Jeanne de Marsy. If you can isolate it as it's own shape, it's weird looking, but it works as a heavy contrast to the light palette and floral designs of the dress and background. Similarly, in Woman at Her Toilette, Berthe Morisot painted a choker as a slash of black across the softly colored canvas. It's one of those wonderful "moments" I admire that gives so much interest to a picture.
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