I hope you all had a wonderful Holiday! Christmas was wonderful here, although I was hoping we would get some snow. I painted so much in December that it was strange to not create for the last week. I cleared my creative throat yesterday and got back into the swing of things. Felt good to get back to work!
This is another painting I am working on right now. She has a soft, distressed, sort of shabby feel. It is hard to see in this photo but her face is made of rough blocks of color. I think I am going to leave it like that- I usually do a smooth over layer but I am feeling sort of "rough and beautiful" we'll see. I haven't filled in the foreground yet. I just love the background it has such a raw, romantic feeling. I hope to have her up for auction tomorrow.
Just thought I would let you all know that Finn gave a wide berth to the Christmas Tree once we hung the rope of jingle bells around the tree. He really doesn't care for them at all!
We just got new furniture so we thought we would hang them around the furniture too since it worked so well with the tree. We have had a bare livingroom for almost a year and it is so nice to have "real" furniture. This was our Christmas present to each other and I couldn't be happier. We are starting to build a home!
The wall unit came with the house we are renting. It had a great fold out shelf - I thought it was just made to be a bar and source of books. It reminds me of old 50's or 60's shows and movies where there are always bookcases and fold out bars. Excuse the mess we just had company!
Well I finished the Madonna and Baby --- I think. I always let it sit a day and look again with a fresh eye but I feel pretty complete with her.
I thought I would share another one of the tricks that I have picked up along the way. When I begin a painting I always have a light source in mind so I know where to put the shadows. When the painting is pretty much done I go back over the whole thing and hit where the light would fall from the light source. It is almost always a diagonal. For instance, in this painting the light source is from the upper left hand corner to the lower right. So at the end I went back and brightened up the arch (it is a little hard to see in this picture), the reds in the upper left, Mary's head piece, her upper cheek, her nose etc. This for me helps the painting come alive and also gives me a satisfying sense of --done! I am sure this is not a new technique but I call it moving light. I move the light along the canvas at the very end of the process.
This painting is my version of a painting done by Antonella da Messina named Our Lady of the Annunciation and dating from about 1475. I have only recently become familiar with the many classic paintings of "The Annunciation". The Annunciation is a common theme, a depiction of the angel visiting Mary and telling her about her impending virgin pregnancy. What a shocker huh? Anyway, the paintings usually show the Angel and Mary and Mary usually looks uncertain to say the least. I loved Messina's version because it is a close up shot of Mary's face. I love the emotion I was able to capture in my version of the painting. To me her face has this wise resolve. Almost like she's thinking okay - let's do it.
I love the hands too, which I took from Messina. She is almost lit up by the angel you can't see in the painting. Another interesting point is that in all the classic paintings of The Annunciation, Mary has a book. I have heard that this is to highlight the fact that she was educated. She is also usually in a garden, thus the trees in the background which Messina didn't include but I wanted to add them.
It was very rainy today so again I had to shoot pix in the studio. The full version shows the painting on my easel and is pretty accurate - at least on my monitor. I did the background with my dripping, weeping paint that I use sometimes.
This is a 5 day listing! Ends Sunday 12/20. I am shipping right away these days for the holidays. I don't see why I couldn't get it to you by Christmas. If you need it by a certain date please let me know and I will do my very best.
Okay! - she's coming along. There are quite a few things I need to tweak but the "big picture" is all in place. I need to make her hands and her foot smaller and a bit more delicate. The bottom portion with the foot had to be done in a seperate session because of how big the painting is .... I can't work the whole thing at once. My husband -- (who loves this one by the way)- said - "why bother with the foot? just make it easy on yourself and let the robes hang down." I wanted the barefoot peeking out though - I think it lends her some vulnerability and something very real or revealed.
When I pulled the painting together I noticed her hands looked too big. As I often do, I actually compared the size of my own hands to the size of my face and realized indeed they were out of proportion. (It is hard to see when you are working close up.) I wondered how I went wrong but then I checked one of the Madonna paintings I was working off for proportion and I realized the artist also made Mary's hands too big. I think it was Bellini ... I will have to double check. Maybe I will show all the paintings I used as a reference in another blog.
One of the most important things to me is the emotion of the figures. I have just about got her face where I want it...it is amazing how a brush stroke or two can change the whole expression...I just need to lend her a little peace but I like the knowing, youthfull, thoughtfull air she has.
Maybe, in my next post I will talk about how I did the background and the robes.
I am working on my biggest commission yet. She measures 30" x 40"
I thought I would share a bit of the process and the work space. I jimmy rigged a bulletin board as you can see. In the left are the boxes that my canvas comes in where I tacked up different inspirations. Classic Renaissance paintings for composition, color and most importantly feeling. Some of my own stuff too - to remind me of what I like about my paintings :) Composition is very important so I keep going back to one of the pin up sheets to remind me of proportion. Composition is why there is a grid on the canvas. I grid the composition so all is in proportion. The math comes before the emotion. I am not sure if you can see the big art books on the floor but I use them for height.
The painting is so big that I need to stand on books to work on Mary's face.
I want to blog more about this further, but let me start with the basics.....
I laid in the background first, usually, I try to work the colors all around in a balanced way so it is a whole organism but I needed to do the "ground" first because of the technique.
I promise I will try to show and share more.....it's been so busy here......
Well the photo here is unclear but I just about finished her tonight and wanted to share. The light in the studio at 11 pm isn't great so I will just give her the finishing touches tomorrow morning and she will be up tomorrow night for a 3 day listing. I was very happy with the warmth, softness and balance of color in this one. My husband thinks this is my best Madonna yet - although she is an angel but can she be both?
This is a little peek at a small corner of where I work. As you can see just in this space there are two coffee cups....woops ... well this is where all the mugs end up throughout the day.
I took a lot from Botticelli on this one. The shape of her face, the color contour of her face and the clear blue eyes. I especially love how Botticelli uses a dark background with striking ethereal lights in the foreground. You all might find this interesting - I never use black in my paintings. (Only when I paint the gallery canvas sides - I don't like to waste the good paint on the sides)
It is always all color - which lends to the richness of the painting. I "make" black in different ways depending on the painting. For this painting I used a mix of Hookers Green Deep Hue (Golden Acrylics) and Van Dyke Brown and for some parts I added a little bit of Prussian Blue. Well that's my tip for the day. See you all soon.