Grisaille Underpainting of a Visionary Episode from Zechariah

I wanted to share a series of images showing the process of the making of an underpainting which I have been working on for the past few months. The image itself is an illustration of a vision of the biblical prophet Zechariah laid out in chapters 3 and 4 of the book of Zechariah in the Old Testament. It is a beautiful story of God’s grace and restoration, rich in symbolism and images. It is not very long and is certainly worth reading.

This grisaille is done in egg tempera on an oak panel, built from an oak that came down on my father’s farm in Greenwood county, was subsequently milled (quarter sawn) and air dried for 10 years. The panel has been cradled with walnut and ash to help keep it flat over time. The surface is a traditional gesso as describe out by the 14th century Florentine Cennino Cennini in his Il libro dell’arte. Once the grisaille is complete, I will start to paint layers of translucent colored oil glazes, hopefully to beautiful effect.

the original drawing
the cradle on the back of the panel.
the walnut stiles are “floating” to allow for seasonal expansion and contraction across the grain, held in place only by the ash rails
laying out the main geometry and locations of vanishing points
redrawing the image onto the panel
ready to start painting
part way through
detail of the upper center of the image, using artistic license, I have inferred the trinitarian presence from “the Angel of the Lord”
detail of Satan accusing the high priest Joshua
the little porcelain pallet I use for mixing
on the work table early in the morning
detail of Joshua receiving new garments
current state of the grisaille- nearly completed

Crushed By Egg Tempera

DSC_0015

IMG_9134

Saint Thomas is now on the easel to receive a grisaille underpainting in oils.   After being crushed by my attempt to make an egg-tempera grisaille underpainting on this panel of Thomas and Jesus, et al.,  I have decided to move my historical experimentations to a panel of more manageable dimensions.  Moses in the Rock is the only picture I have made using egg tempera as an underpainting and it is quite small.  This represents the largest panel I have ever undertaken with the most fully developed charters as well.  Egg tempera is very slow (and I already work very slowly), and having already allowed a 5 year window to make this picture,  I shall try to fully embrace those other challenges in a noble fashion in addition to honoring my time.

DSC_0034

Mixing the medium for the thinning of colors for underpainting.

DSC_0040

Applying a coat of thinned shellac over the absorbent gesso and egg tempera.

Please take a moment to visit my friend Mike Schultz interesting post on his blog the other day.

Grinding Paint

Bellow are some photographs of some very small amounts of pigments being ground with water, in preparation for being mixed at need with egg yolk to make egg tempera.  Having a ready supply of fresh hen’s eggs, it is the logical paint to start making, as well as learning slightly parallel to the western historical progression of the technology of paint-making.

img_4022

Grinding vine black with water, using a glass muller and “slab”.

img_4012

Collecting a small batch of yellow earth from the muller.

img_4029

Four jars of pigment, ground with and then submerged in water.