Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Progress on Caravaggio

Change can be a good thing, and not having a laptop to work from on unfinished pieces can be a huge change. While I figure out whether I should make the change to a Mac or stick to PC, I went ahead and put up the Caravaggio copy I started last summer. Up until the last time I worked on this canvas I had given the composition two tries. I failed at both.
Two nights ago I started working at what is now the third try. I started by applying white paint and bringing out the highlights in the composition. I took the advice of a fellow painter who told me that he's now creating beautiful flesh tones by applying thin layers of white in a dry brush manner over a sienna, or red earth ground. This time things are going better, since I'm in no rush or under a deadline. This was meant to be my sister's wedding gift in August after she requested me to paint her the Last Supper for her new home. Who is she kidding? I'm no Da Vinci and was not even going to make the attempt at a thirteen character painting. Although I did try by making a few sketches. But I thought the idea of the Last Supper hanging in her dinning room was a little too much of a cliche. Latin people sure do love their Last Supper hanging over them as they eat! My way out of the cliche was choosing Caravaggio's Supper at Emmaus.
I worked into the late hours of the night, trying to get the right proportions and angles. Pictured above is the first try of the head of a saint (forgive my ignorance but I'm doing my research on the characters in this painting still), followed by the third try, in the middle of the image, which was all wrong. The fourth try is in progress and the first outlines of the head have been placed with white paint. As I work I'm starting to read a bit on Caravaggio's painting technique, which differs from build up of glazes in his early career to more impasto applications towards the end. The main idea behind doing this copy is not to end up with a product that looks like a master painting but more to learn about the process of one of my favorite painters.

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