When I painted this picture, I remembered that Mary Whyte, in a workshop, told us to name our paintings before we made our first washes of color. I couldn’t for the life of me remember this girl’s name (the daughter of a cousin-in-law, she’s a delightful girl, but I only met her once), so I just called her princess. I don’t mean princess in a bad way—all diva and finer-than-thou—but princess in a good way, a fairytale Cinderella-sorting-ashes or brave-and-loading-bullets sort of way.
As readers of fairy tales and fantasy-fiction know, names have power. So I let the word princess guide my brush. When I was stuck for a color choice, I whispered the word: princess. The taste of the word on my tongue gave me the flavor of the color I needed to use in that passage.
My favorite part of the painting, and the whole reason I wanted to paint this, is the shadow that curls under the sunlit eye. I love the way the curve describes the roundness of the cheek. There’s something delicate and fragile in that shadow, a sweetness and hope particular to young women.
Watercolor 23″ X 19″ 300# Arches hot press
Copyright 2012 by Margaret Sloan
Then suddenly, as I approached the end of the painting, I recalled that her name is, or might be, Kate. If it’s not, it’s still the name of this painted princess-girl.