Sunday, July 12, 2015

Copying Caravaggio

I am assisting in a couple of summer workshops for 2015. This one is that I am blogging about is called the Methods of the Old Masters, specifically focused on Caravaggio's technique of painting.  I chose to work on The Inspiration of St Matthew (1602), which can be viewed currently at the church of San Luigi dei Francesi (in the French quarters), Rome.  I was also fortunate enough to see the original piece a couple of months back before attempting this project. 

Here's recapping the process of recreating the masterpiece by Caravaggio:

First step is the drawing stage. Burnt Umber (Old Holland) is used to get the fundamental shapes down. Burnt Umber is also used to prepare for the black coat of paint later on. It keeps the blacks really black, and also prevents the blacks from excessive sinking in. Another layer of Burnt Umber is applied after the first is dried. 

White is added to the lighter areas of the picture to prepare it for colour application later. 

Here is a quick study of the flesh tones on another piece of canvas.

Finally, I applied a thin coat of colour to the opaque white base that I had before. Think of it as a stained glass, where the opaque white base is the sunlight, and the thin coat of colour is the coloured glass. The brilliance of the lighter areas seen on the angel above is actually luminance from the opaque white base. 

Finally, bringing the entire painting to a finish. 

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