Brother Cadfael painting completed

I finished my oil painting portrait of Brother Cadfael. This is based on the excellent show starring Sir Derek Jacobi…it’s a favorite of mine. I started this painting in late March of this year and spent about 24 hours on it over 6 months (including the initial sketch).

To see all 3 posts about this painting, search for ‘cadfael’ then click a post.

Here are photos of the painting both framed and unframed:

Brother Cadfael by Airn LeBus, 8x10 inches, oil on panel, 2009.

Brother Cadfael by Airn LeBus, 8x10 inches, oil on panel, 2009.

Brother Cadfael by Airn LeBus, 8x10 inches, oil on panel, 2009.

Brother Cadfael by Airn LeBus, 8x10 inches, oil on panel, 2009.

I used my current standard technique of making a photocopy of my original drawing so that it will stay intact when I transfer it onto the panel or canvas. I then transferred it by rubbing the back of the photocopy with soft 4B pencil and tracing over it with a pen onto the panel. I then used a fine sharpie over that (on the panel). I put a transparent imprimatura over it to seal it, wash away the pencil, and give some interesting brushstrokes in the background which may show through a bit later.

Next I painted the face as a “dead layer” with just raw umber and white, over many sessions. Once I was mostly satisfied with that I started glazing transparent color over the face. I also added more opaque parts and highlights, and fixed a few things with the features…although they are still a bit off, I settled with the look of it. The hair and robe/cowl were more directly painted but still with some glazing.

Regrettably, I didn’t plan the inscription out  properly so it took a while to figure out how to arrange it, what to put, and to actually paint it.  It took a few sessions…I used paintings by Albrecht Durer and Hans Holbein the Younger as inspirations for the inscription look and feel. I wrote Cadfael’s full name, “Cadfael ap [son of] Meilyr ap Dafydd” and my little symbol of a cross, eye, crown, and initials ARL. I find that painting text, especially when there is no initial drawing or guide, to be quite difficult…but I enjoy the challenge. Compared to plopping on some text in Photoshop on some digital art, it’s like the contrast between walking into a store and buying a shirt vs. cutting the cloth, designing, and sewing one yourself :)

I put it in a dark , sturdy, and somewhat simple frame which fits well with the Benedictine nature of Cadfael. I also had played with having his gaze pointed at the viewer but it seemed to fit him better to have him looking off to the side. Pretty happy with this one…overall the mood and look are what I was going for.