Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Method of Caravaggio - Step Two - Underpainting the Lights

When studying late Caravaggio paintings,  one gets an idea of his working method in this period.

 
He is working very efficiently, leaving the mid-tone ground to act as shadows and thinner application of umber to describe darker tones while the lights are painted with few colours.

In the Martrydom of St. Ursula, notice the flesh in the figure of St. Ursula, on the right. It is painted with an opaque white which is pulled thinner as the form moves away from the light. This gives us an idea of his underpainting process.



Continuing on from the last blog entry, once the wash drawing has dried, the lights are rendered using a white. Caravaggio would have used a lead white but titanium works as well. If using titanium, add in a little bit of calcium carbonate to give the paint some body, opacity and to help it dry a little faster. Where the flesh is lightest, the paint is applied thickly. As the flesh darkens the paint is pulled thinner, resulting in the illusion of the three dimensional form.


Here is an explanation of the process, filmed during the workshop at Angel Academy.



Once this has dried the flesh is painted using a limited palette. The next blog entry will describe this process.


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