Building an Image

The first glazing layers on Thomas Touching the Side of Christ

figure of Nicodemus from 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.   

Thomas’ robe in process

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.  

You can see the uneven blotchiness in Nicodemus robe.  This will be resolved with subsequent glazed layers.  

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.

The darkness of the grayscale layer underneath determines a good part of the value of the glazed colors

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. 

various mediums, and their component parts on the pallet.
Thomas’ garment is a mix of Alizarin Crimson, Quinachradone Red, Burnt Sienna, and Cobalt Green.

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 relationship of the blue and yellow is particularly nice

Geometry of the Wounded Savior

Thomas Grisaille02

This grisaille (grayscale underpainting) of the interaction of Thomas and Jesus and the gathered disciples and their community, has been slowly developing over the past three years, the drawing took about two years before that.  I feel like the end of this particular phase is finally in sight on the distant horizon.  I look forward to seeing the structure fully unfold and ultimately to the beginning the glazing of colors.

Thomas Grisaille03 Thomas Grisaille04 Thomas Grisaille06 Thomas Grisaille05 Thomas Grisaille08 Thomas Grisaille07 Thomas Grisaille09 Thomas Grisaille10 Thomas Grisaille11 Thomas Grisaille12 Thomas Grisaille01

Small History of Flying Fish

sandstone, guitarflying fish5

If we set the little paraffin lamp out at night, flying fish were attracted by the light and large and small, shot over the raft…flying fish7

It sometimes happened that we heard an outburst of strong language from a man on deck when a cold flying fish came unexpectedly, at a good speed, slap into his face…

flying fish6

…They always came at a good pace and snout first, and if they caught one full in the face they made it burn and tingle… flying fish8

But the unprovoked attack was quickly forgiven by the injured party, for with all its drawbacks, we were in a maritime land of enchantment where delicious fish dishes came hurling through the air…flying fish1

We used to fry them for breakfast, and wether it was the fish, the cook or our appetites, they reminded us of fried troutlings once we had scraped the scales off…  Thor Heyerdahl, Kon Tiki, 1950

Flying FishThere is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish.  But what are they among so many people?…flying fish4Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all… DSC_0064Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted… flying fish2When they were satisfied, he told, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.”

flying fish3So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets… John 6, 9-13 NRSV

In the dark and unlit ceiling of the Loretta Chapel there is a lonely painting of a chunky fish atop a heavy slab of bread.   At the moment Thor Heyerdahl’s balsa log raft was colliding with a dusty man breaking bread in the grass of Palestine.  The long pilgrim road leading through elder drifts, slabs of rock, mountains of hailstones, unearthly fish with a mouth like a grave.  The sign of Jonah.  Provision comes unlooked for, and fear is weathered away.