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

Thomas and Jesus

Underpainting Complete!

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.

Geometry of the Wounded Savior

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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.

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Saint Thomas Grisaille

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Grisaille underpainting of the remaining disciples of Jesus gathered together in a locked room as Thomas touches the wound in Jesus’ side.

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Thomas Grisaille

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Progress on the underpainting in grisaille for the Thomas panel since abandoning egg tempera.

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DSC_0110I have been working with Tad Spurgeon’s text lately.  It is chalk-full of information on the craft of painting, from technique to philosophy, historical research and criticism to in depth analysis of oils and their endless permutations, pigments, resins, additives, and etc, with many useful formulas and recipes.  I have not explored enough to venture a review, but I am enjoying it.