The first glazing layers on Thomas Touching the Side of Christ
After years of working on the underpainting, this autumn has seen the first color appear on my painting of Christ and Thomas with all of the disciples gathered in a room together. I am taking a lot of cues for the colors in this painting from Rogier Van Der Weyden’s famous Descent from the Cross in Madrid’s Prado museum.
It is a clunky and halting phase of the process, trying to use the appropriate colors, and the right medium, and the right balance of medium to paint ratio. I’ve had to rub out hours of work at a time, when I’ve come back the next morning to realize the color isn’t working.
It is tempting to render the layer to a finished state, even though I know there will be subsequent layers. It is foolish to carry detail too far just yet, and it is difficult to leave certain problems alone until a more appropriate time. I caught myself over-rendering the blue of Nicodemus’ robe and had to stop myself midway through.
Glazing takes advantage of the semi-transparent nature of many pigments when mixed with linseed oil as a binder. By building up multiple thin layers of paint, it is possible to achieve unique and special color and luminosity in a picture, especially in the correct light.
This painting is a huge learning experience. They didn’t teach this sort of thing in art school while I was there, so I am having to work through a lot of discovery and failure, even while taking advantage of the many written treatises on painting throughout the centuries.
The grisaille underpainting of Thomas and Jesus, et all is finally to a point where I feel ready to begin applying glazes of color. After 6 years of work I thought I should take some decent photos of the whole thing before the next phase. Thank you for watching.
The following is a preliminary in a series of thumbnail sketches attempting to outline the story of Jonah. These drawings, working out various ways to represent the various parts of the story, are a trial towards making an illustrated book of the story of Jonah. The book may be a handmade one, possibly of linoleum-block or woodblock prints, or alternatively one which is printed with reproduced ink drawings.
Below is a larger format and more detailed, though unfinished, ink drawing illustrating Jonah building his shelter, as the gourd-vine appointed to grow by God begins to grow behind.
A color version of the Obed Edom linocut, painted with watercolor on 250gsm BFK Rives paper. The intent is to make at least 10 or 12 of these. Each one will be different, I imagine. Already I see things I would like to do differently. This one is for sale on our Etsy store.
“See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, 3 and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills…” Exodus 31: 2 & 3.
Bezalel is kind of an early renaissance man, thousands of years before Brunelleschi, Michelangelo, or Durer. More importantly he was faithful to God’s design of him as a craftsman. He was found worthy to build the design of God concerning the tabernacle and all of its parts. As a craftsman and artist, it is hard to comprehend anything so significant to my earthly labors as to manifest on earth something that was authored in the very heart and mind of God.
Elizabeth Duffy asked me about influences and progenitors in her interview with me last year. Here is an excerpt of my response pertaining to Bezalel: I hope, maybe, to be in the line of Bezalel, who fashioned so much for the tabernacle, making the sacred things that were part of the “technology” of worship of His God for his community. Personally, I couldn’t ask for more than that. Bezalel is valuable as a paradigm of an artisan of broad experience and skill. He could work in many trades and arts with skill worthy of God’s Tabernacle. My good friend reminds me of the value of a man of that breadth of experience and skill in contrast to a culture that places a premium on experts of high degree in a single field. When I wonder if I am hurting myself by embracing so many disciplines, I am grateful for Bezalel and his place in God’s story, and a few other men I have encountered who are champions of excellence in this way. The drawing, an imagining of a portion of Bezalel’s tent-workshop, started two or three years ago, finally over the past two months I was able to finish it. It is composed along the lines of another drawing, Go On, Adam, Breathe. An potential series of drawings? The drawing to me feels so limited, compared to the vastness of what could be explored and depicted, as a task to learn about Bezalel, his labors, and his relationship to his God.