It’s incredible to think how far away the 1970s are now. How we live in the future and look back on our past decades with slight disdain and mockery. After all, the 70s were a sexist decade that gave us Farrah Faucet hair, disco and “sweetheart, bring me a coffee.”
But the 70s also gave us some incredible heroes too. Heroes for women that we don’t see, amazingly, now. In this day and age, when Disney won’t market more than a tiny handful of female Star Wars figures because Star Wars is for boys. Or Marvel won’t make a Black Widow standalone movie because who would want to see a female hero? It’s a huge let down. But go back 40 years and we had Wonder Woman and the Bionic Woman on tv.
I have a friend who is so into Wonder Woman that I had to take a second look. I haven’t watched the show since I was a kid and I had forgotten how much I loved it. In my mind, I was Wonder Woman, and based on the Facebook comments I got on this one, I think we 70s girls all felt the same way. Researching this painting meant watching episodes and while there are cringe-worthy, heavy-cheese moments, the reality is, the show was mostly awesome. Way ahead of its time.
We need more Wonder Woman now. We need more heroes for our girls and boys that show it’s a human world, and people of all genders can save the day.
This painting started in the usual way, but I am going to go into more detail on why I do an under-painting and what it’s good for. There are so many ways to approach painting. I’ve done the whole under-painting method and even the paint-once-and-be-done method. I know I’ve used so many, but the one that works for me is many layers.
Under-painting allows me to forget about details at first and build up brights and shadows. It gives me the freedom to push and pull, almost sculpt the image as I go, before committing to the final colour. This painting was slightly different only in that I had a lot of more correct colour in place but I didn’t worry about having it all correct.
Plus, painting in layers gives me a chance to have a break, since painting is exhausting, and allows the layers to dry. I stopped painting at the point above and walked away. It was a good place to stop, with all major shapes in place.
When I returned to paint, I started with the background. One thing that is critical is ensuring that I work on the entire painting at once. Colour needs balancing and it’s impossible to tell if colour is correct if there are huge areas that aren’t painted or aren’t at the same finished state as the others. You can see how finishing the background made Wonder Woman look worse, though I hadn’t done anything to her at that point.
Then it became a matter of glazes of colour, thinned out with acrylic medium and very translucent, to build up skin tones, knock back shadows and bring the painting to life. I have to say, I had the most fun I’ve ever had painting this portrait. It brought back so many memories for me. Good ones. Watching my heroes on tv. Wanting to be just like them. It was incredibly satisfying to know that the kid who really wanted to paint, and paint well, was finally able to pay homage to her hero in a personally meaningful way.
20″ X 16″
Acrylic on canvas