This painting is based on a photo I took in Italy earlier this summer. I was fairly happy with the figures, but I felt the background was presenting the same problem I have regularly with figure paintings--it just doesn't do anything to support the figures.
Queen Bee and Friend, 17 x 17 (before)
Last week I took it to my friend La Vonne's open studio, hoping to get some help with it. She is a great "fixer" and does wonderful backgrounds. She noticed several minor problems with the figures, and I worked on those. She showed me a nifty trick of using the shape of one hand to create the other hand with the mirror image. I copied the left hand onto a piece of clear plastic and then flipped it to create the figure's right hand. The background got layers of washes, pushing it further and further back. The lines I'd created to show the marble blocks mostly disappear (a good thing). Now the painting is clearly about the women and their conversation. What do you think about the improvements?
Queen Bee and Friend, 17 x 17 (after)
The working title is "Queen Bee and Friend." I'd love some suggestions. Something Italian, perhaps?