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  • Hélène Planquelle

Step-by-Step Process of my Superposition Oil Paintings

Updated: Dec 29, 2020

Thanks for joining me on my artistic journey!  People are often interested in the nuts and bolts of art making, so I am going to share with you the step-by-step process of my latest work, which I produced specifically for the last edition of Paratissima Art Fair in Bologna, Italy, last January, on the theme "Needs".  Here are the major phases of how I create my work: concept searching, preparatory work on composition and color, execution, touch-ups and finishing. 

Concept & preparatory work

With the theme of the fair in mind (aka "needs"), I started to roam through my huge database of photo from past shootings I did  with my favorite models of all times (Juan Del'o and Ada Ardente), in search of something that would click and convey the right "emotional neediness" tone I wanted to capture in this work.

I shortlisted about twenty images and started playing around with double-imaging to see what came up, all the way down to selecting my one favorite composition. This part is obviously very personal and relates to my own sensitivity. Here, I wanted a scene that evoked both the tenderness of bonds and the fright of dependence and someone's hold on you. 



Here is how the magic happens! 


Acrylic underpaint & oil overpaint

After turning this composition into a workable image (meaning doing a lot of detouring and choosing which body parts I want to appear over which), I sketched the whole composition on my final medium (here, a wood panel) and went with a first acrylic underpaint, just to establish the main contrasts. 

Looks already pretty cool right? 

Then I proceeded with the actual oil paint layer, working section by section and starting with the most expressive areas, meaning the parts of my work I want to draw the most attention (in this case, the two faces). I cannot take the risk to leave them for the end and possibly screw them up while the rest of the composition is great. This is my way of avoiding mental breakdown... 

The logic of my progression is also chromatic: I wanted the center to have the warmest colors, and to go colder on the fringes. 

Until I have covered the whole composition. Although I do color studies beforehand, I do pause between each stage to think about my chromatic balance. Here, the male character is mostly in green and blue shades of color, which reinforces the enigmatic and fragmented depiction of his body, while  that of the main female protagonist goes from cold to warm hues, yet using purple to more pinky tones. 

In general, I wanted the center to have the warmest colors, and to go colder toward the edges.

Touch-ups & finishing 

The last part was working on the background, for which I tried out a glazing technique to get more depth and transparency effects (something I am new to and want to explore further). And then it was all ready for a nice glossy varnish... and voilà

Don't you just love that shine? This is why oil is my favorite medium... 

If you want to see more of my works, check out my galleries!


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