Figurative Mixed Media Painting Process of Canto IV, an Illustration of Limbo inspired by Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy

I start with stretcher bars.


73 cm x 100 cm or 28.74 in x 39.37 in

I’m using duck cloth. It’s heavy, plain woven cotton fabric.


duck cloth

I mounted the material on the stretcher bars, gave it a thin coat of rabbit skin glue (let it dry) and then I primed it.  Primer:  Mix equal amounts of zinc oxide, calcium sulfate and rabbit skin glue.  Pour the rabbit skin glue into the zinc oxide and calcium sulfate little by little mixing with a brush.



Here is the primed canvas on the easel.


Primed Canvas

Egg tempera emulsion is made by mixing an egg, oil, varnish and water together in a tall flask of equal proportions, shaking after each ingredient in that respective order.


Mixing the Emulsion

I started off using these earth colors: blanco de España, zinc oxide, verde Veronese, transparent gold ocher and vine black.


Dry Pigment with Emulsion and Spatula for mixing

This is what the pigments look like when mixed with the emulsion.  This is a water based medium.


Pigment mixed with emulsion and water container

Egg tempera can be watered down as thinly as you like, but not always as thick as you like.


Session 1 egg tempera under painting in process

I start adding color and still painting thinly.


Session 2 egg tempera under painting

This is the under painting.


Session 3 egg tempera under painting

Canto IV describes a castle emanating a fire-like-light in limbo within a dark forest void of light.


Session 4 egg tempera under painting

I used gold leaf to represent the light.


Gold leaf

I paint the area where I want to put the gold leaf on because the canvas has to be sealed or the gold leaf won’t stick.


Session 5 gold leaf

Here, I’ve just started to use oil color.  I mixed dry pigment with poppy seed oil.  When mixed, the paint should stand up like butter.


Session 6 oil painting

Resin oil is a mixture of stand oil, thickened linseed oil and venetian turpentine.


Session 7 resin oil

With wet resin oil, you can paint hair-line brush strokes into it with egg tempera and switch back and forth with tempera and oil.  This is a mixed media.  You must always follow the rule of fat over lean.


Canto IV, Limbo Session 8

 I’m waiting for this painting to dry completely so I can decide whether I want to stop or continue.

Figurative Painting Process – Canto IV -The Divine Comedy.


Session 4

I’m putting the imagery together and keeping my rough draft in mind.


Canto 4 Session 5

According to the poem.  There is a luminous castle in Limbo.


Canto 4 Session 6

So, this is the under-painting  with gold leaf, egg tempera and oils.


Canto 4 Session 8

This is where I left off today.



Egg Tempera Figurative Painting Process

Here I’m posting some of the steps of mounting a canvas and starting a tempera painting.
Here is the stretched and primed canvas on the easel ready to use.

In the spring there’s a lot of light and colorful motif, but it all goes away when the fall comes in.  That’s the season I prefer to do tempera painting; when it’s not too hot.


This is the first step; stretcher bars.

Make sure the corners are squared.


Step 2; Canvas Material.

This is called Duck-Cloth.  It’s made of good quality cotton and is inexpensive.  After stretching the canvas, it is sized with glue.  I use rabbit skin glue ( in the white coffee cup) brushed on the canvas lightly with a wide brush.



Once the canvas has been sized and is completely dry, it is primed. It’s made by mixing  3 equal parts of zinc oxide, calcium sulfite and rabbit skin glue.  I buy these ingredients here in Madrid; most art stores have these products. 

Primed Canvas

Primed Canvas


It takes about a day and a half to stretch, size and prime a canvas because of the drying time.


Charcoal drawing on canvas

I made a quick charcoal drawing on the canvas to put everything more or less where it belongs.


Mixing the Emulsion

Here is my set up with newspaper, brushes, spray bottle, pigments,  water container. This is a water-based medium.


Pigment mixed with emulsion and water container

When the emulsion and the pigments are mixed together, they should stand up, not run to meet the surface of the table.


Session 1 Light egg tempera under painting

This is the first session.


Session 2 Building up Color

Session 2. Building up Color.


Session 3

This is the 3rd session.  One of the things I like about painting is that I don’t know exactly what it will look like when it’s finished. This painting is still in process.



Dante’s Inferno Canto VI (13-15) Cerberus 2016 – Watercolor on paper –

The Divine Comedy (Illustration)

Dante awakens in the 3rd circle.

Cold dirty rain-fall, mixing with heavy hailstones, pounding down, finally, streaking the nude bodies of the condemned souls lying supine in the filthy mud.

Cerberus, the three-headed, dog-like worm beast stands over the souls clawing at the slightest movement made by the supine lying in the filth.

Dante’s Inferno Canto VI (13-15) 2016

This is my first draft for a tempera under painting which will finally become an oil-resin painting.

I like to start with what I see in the mind’s eye when I read Canto VI, staying true to what I read.

 You’ll have to read Canto VI of The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri to find out what each circle holds and why they are there.

Line & Wash of September Roses 2016


September Roses and Silk Scarf 2016 on Arches 300 gsm

I thought that watercolor season was over since we’re already in September, but not yet.  There are a bunch of orange roses blooming on the terrace.


Sketch with grid

Pencil on Arches 300 gsm

Pencil on Arches 300 gsm

Line &Wash

Line and Wash

September Roses with Silk Scarf 2016

September Roses with Silk Scarf 2016

Yellow Melon with Red Bottle Summer 2016

Melon with Red Bottle Summer 2016

Melon with Red Bottle and California Wild Flowers Summer 2016

When I saw this melon come into the room, I just knew I had to paint it.

Red Bottle with Melon Summer 2016

Yellow Melon with Red Bottle and California Wild Flowers Summer 2016

The most interesting thing about this yellow melon was the way it reflected color.  I was interested in capturing the reflection.

California Wild Flowers in Red Bottle with Melon Summer 2016

California Wild Flowers in Red Bottle with Summer Melon 2016

Here it is finished.

White Rose with Crystal Vase Spring 2016

White Rose with Crystal Vase Spring 2016

White Rose with Crystal Vase Spring 2016


White Rose

White Rose

I decided to develop the rose thinking it was going to wilt too fast.

White Rose with Crystal Vase

White Rose with Crystal Vase

Then I started drawing the crystal vase with a paintbrush, the same way I drew the rose.

Crystal Vase and Rose

Crystal Vase with White Rose

Then I started developing the crystal vase trying to give it the same attention as I did to the rose.

Whte Rose with Crystal Vase and Books Spring 2016

White Rose with Crystal Vase and Books Spring 2016

The books and the crystal vase are competing too much.  Thinking back, I should have stopped in the previous step or developed the books more.