Memento Mori – work in progress

I just got back from a 3 week European vacation a week ago and I saw a ton of insane art over there that had me riled up to paint and draw and stuff. Then to top things off I spent a long time looking at Danse-Macabre.net which has SO many crazy works of art. The stained glass on the first page is one of the craziest things I have ever seen, especially given it’s age and the medium! Then after looking at a couple of Hans Memling’s pieces I instantly really wanted to do a skull in an alcove Memento Mori / Vanitas sort of thing. I’ve actually never painted a skull so that’s one reason I wanted to do it. I was also thinking it would be relatively easy and I think I could do a pretty good job on it, especially if I do it in monochrome. So I spent a few hours over a couple days planning and drawing directly onto an 11 x 14 inch wood panel and then started painting today. I spent about 2 1/2 hours today on this and am super excited about it.

I actually realized recently that it’s been about 6 months since I’ve painted! Yipes, that’s not how one gets better. I did do some drawing over the past months and I need more work on my drawing skills at this point anyway. In any case, I’m very excited about this project and have really been enjoying working on it, which wasn’t the case for a few recent projects :)

Oh the cherub at the top is grey because the pencil didn’t get locked in very well with my base coat of acrylic which was supposed to wash away the pencil too and prevent it from muddying up the oil paint, oh well. Later it should get covered by the raw umber I am using so it fits with the rest of the painting. That cherub was inspired by something I saw in Venice…I wanted to give a little glimmer of hope to the painting.

A Country Girl near the Dream City

Update: I revised this painting later, new version is here

OK, I finished this a while ago but didn’t post it partly cuz I have been planning for a big Europe trip which I just came back from. I got to see lots of amazing art and scenery and stuff and am now fully inspired and ready to start on some new projects :)

I wanted this one to be a fairly quick project and I succeeded in that respect, this took me only about 12 hours to paint – that’s very short for me. It’s 11 x 14 inches, oil on canvas. I call it “A Country girl near the Dream City”:

A Country Girl near the Dream City

A Country Girl near the Dream City

A main goal was to use some atmospheric perspective in the landscape background and to use canvas instead of wood panel to try to get a nice soft feel, especially in the background. I am really happy with the way the landscape turned out and also had fun with the hair, which I did a bit differently this time. Some influences on this one were Tamara de Lempicka, Albrecht Dürer, and Leonardo da Vinci.

I used cobalt blue in the sky, landscape, and clothing. The landscape is mostly yellow ochre and other yellows plus cobalt blue.

I’m not sure how long I spent on the drawing and planning but I started painting on  March 2, 2011 and was done on April 3. I had a show I wanted this to be in so I didn’t putz around – it’s funny how much faster and smarter I work when I have a deadline. Looking back over my notes I had a good time painting this and it went very smoothly with minimal frustration – very nice after a couple recent projects that I kept changing over and over.

Here is the drawing:

Country Girl drawing

Country Girl drawing

 

After I completed the drawing I xeroxed it in order to preserve the original and rubbed graphite on the back of the copy. I then taped it to the canvas and went over it with a ballpoint pen to transfer the lines onto the canvas. I then went over those faint lines with a fine sepia sharpie and put a thin wash of transparent olive-green (black combined with yellow) acrylic to wash away the graphite and lock everything into place. I then painted everything directly with oils, no glazing or monochromatic underpainting on this one.

 

Transferring the drawing to canvas

Transferring the drawing to canvas