Saturday, August 14, 2010

Creating a Caravaggio -The Drawing Stage

As a follow-up to the post " The Perfect Painting Method," I thought I would share with you that method put to work in a copy of Caravaggio's St. Jerome.

The first step is the drawing (above) which in this case was done by making a grid copy of a print of the original. The drawing should be a simple two-value silhouette, focusing on the light and shadow pattern of the image. This simple image is the starting point to organize the complex visual information of reality.

Next, transfer this drawing onto a canvas that has been toned to a mid value (here, Old Holland burnt umber mixed with a little lead white was used). Once this campitura has dried (the longer the better), you can transfer the drawing. This is done by tracing the image onto tracing paper, rubbing charcoal on the back of the tracing, placing it on top of the canvas and going over the lines of the drawing so the image transfers to the canvas. Often, there are traces of charcoal dust that end up staying on the canvas. This is easily removed by blowing or brushing it away.

Finally, reinforce the lines and flll in the darks using raw umber thinned with turps.

In the next post I will describe the stages of painting.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Forgotten Master - Henrique Medina 1901 – 1988

Henrique Medina was born in the small Portuguese fishing village of Esposende, part of the same town that my father came from. I learned about him through family friends, who had a copy of his catalogue raisonne. I later found and visited the studio he built in Esposende where he spent the last years of his life.

Medina began his studies at age 13 at the Oporto School of Fine Arts, an institution that continued to teach the lessons of its 19th century academic origins. Having completed his studies by the age of 18, Medina moved on to Paris, studying under Carmon and Bernard. By 1929 he had painted the portraits of the Portuguese president Almirante Canto, Cardinal Manual Cerejeira and a number of society portraits in Lisbon and Porto. Later he worked in London and in Italy, where he painted Mussolini’s portrait in 1931. Medina spent World War II in the Americas: first Brazil, then Argentina and finally the US. He has left to the museums and collections of these countries a number of works. While in the US he befriended Charlie Chaplin, Walt Disney and Mary Pickford among others. It was at this time he painted the portraits of Dorian Grey for the film of the same name and one of Greer Garson for the film “Mrs. Parkington”. Returning to Portugal in 1946, he continued his portrait career for dignitaries throughout Europe including a portrait of Pope John Paul II in 1982. With his personal work Medina was a painter of individuals, particularly characters from the Minho and Douro the country north of Oporto.

If you ever get a chance to visit northern Portugal, be sure to visit the Medina Museum next to the city hall in the city of Braga and his studio in the town of Esposende. You can also find his work in the Palacio da Bolsa in Oporto and in the Museu do Chiado in Lisbon. Click here for a YouTube video of his paintings of women.