I have recently been working on the 4th mystery of the Rosary, the Presentation of the Lord. In thinking about the design of this painting, I wanted to focus on that moment that Mary actually hands over her son, Jesus, to Simeon, a complete stranger to her. Her action prefigures the sacrifice she will one day make, handing over her son to complete strangers, to the world that would torture and crucify him. It is a foreshadowing also echoed by Simeon's own prophecy delivered moments later:
"And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him; and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, "Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed." Lk 2:33-35
I have continued to use the same, somewhat involved process of a) making a complete charcoal sketch of the final painting, b) doing a color study using a print-out of the charcoal drawing, c) tracing the drawing onto a canvas, d) painting a monochrome layer on the canvas, also known as the "umber layer" and then e) painting the final layer, in full color, on top of that. It is a technique that certainly has its advantages and disadvantages.
Here is the final charcoal drawing of the scene. One of the advantages of using this method is that you get a sense of what the finished painting will look like, using a medium (charcoal) that is much quicker and easier to work with than paint.
I decided to include 6 figures in addition to Christ, making him the 7th figure. The characters essential to the narrative are Joseph and May (left), as well as the prophetess, Anna, who is holding a birdcage - in those days, poorer families customarily sacrificed doves in the temple instead of lambs, upon the birth of a son - and Simeon who is directly opposite of Mary.
Working on the final painting has been relatively slow-going. Although, once all of the preliminary work has been done, it makes this last stage much quicker and smoother - which is actually a great joy. Below are some details of the final painting, still a work-in-progress.
I also have recently created an instagram account! You can follow me there to get even more regular updates on what I'm working on. @birdman.627.
So it's been about 6 months since my last blog post! I figured it was about time to provide some sort of an update on the projects I have been working on since March. It also seems appropriate having just celebrated the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lady, as she has been the focus of the artwork that I've been making.
Since my last post I have finished 2 commissions (one was technically a wedding present so I don't think that really counts) of our Lady. The first was "Our Lady of Joy." Below is the finished painting.
I made some prints of this once it was done. I actually had a considerable amount of trouble adjusting the photograph of the print to get the right contrast and to get the colors just right - staying as true to the original painting as possible. The halos kept looking too orange, or too washed out. The painting was done for my wife's aunt, for her birthday. It was a real honor getting to work on something for someone who has always exhibited the same generosity of spirit as Our Lady.
I also thought I would show for fun, the joys and the challenges of working surrounded by our wonderful children. I think these pictures pretty much say it all. This is mid photo-shoot where my wife (who was pregnant at the time) was posing and trying to corral the other squirrelly little model.
He was fascinated by the camera. Go figure. I pray that it will be a short-lived obsession. Cindy as always, was my willing model and a real sport.
I also completed a painting as a wedding present for some good friends of ours. It's a Madonna and child, Here's the charcoal sketch and the final painting side by side.
You can see the slight adjustments between the drawing and the final painting, most obviously in the faces of both figures. I think I actually like Mary's face more in the drawing.
Let me know what you think and please contact me directly if you'd like to buy any prints of either of these pieces.