Canto VI Cerberus 2016
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. (epic poetry of Dante Alighieri)
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.
The process of the painting is below.
I did a few drawings like this one above and a watercolor.
Next, I painted a similar version on a canvas with egg tempera to start with.
I started building up shape and color
Then I changed my mind about something
I wanted a frontal view of the mouth
I put everything more or less where I wanted it
And then I changed my mind again
That’s what I like about art
Dante’s Inferno Canto IV in process – Mixed Technique: Tempera Under-painting and Resin-Oil Finish.
ILLustration in Process of Canto IV, Limbo
Almost finished…(Inspired by Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy)
The mixed technique is oil paint and egg tempera. The resin-oil drying time is more than a few days.
When drying a painting with this kind of mixture make sure the painting is isolated for a few days since all varnishes are volatile and harmful.
The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri is as Divine as Epic Poetry gets. There’s nothing pretty about the poem to paint and art has never been about painting a pretty pictures.
I’ve posted three sessions, the other sessions in between were mistakes taken off of the canvas. ;).
Dante’s Inferno Canto IV in process – Mixed Technique: Tempera Underpainting and Resin-Oil Finish.
Illustration in Process of Canto IV Limbo.
Canto IV Session 12
“and I lost hope of reaching the hilltop. I was like a man who takes his gains willingly, but when the time comes to lose, weeps and is full of sadness. The beasts came at me and little by little pushed me back down the slope toward the dark wood, where the sun did not shine.”
I found Jim Belton’s modern language version on word press; he’s been re-writing The Divine Comedy – by Dante Alighieri. Click here to read Canto I.
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.
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.
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.
I started off using these earth colors: blanco de España, zinc oxide, verde Veronese, transparent gold ocher and vine black.
This is what the pigments look like when mixed with the emulsion. This is a water based medium.
Egg tempera can be watered down as thinly as you like, but not always as thick as you like.
I start adding color and still painting thinly.
This is the under painting.
Canto IV describes a castle emanating a fire-like-light in limbo within a dark forest void of light.
I used gold leaf to represent the light.
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.
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.
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.
I’m waiting for this painting to dry completely so I can decide whether I want to stop or continue.
I’m putting the imagery together and keeping my rough draft in mind.
According to the poem. There is a luminous castle in Limbo.
So, this is the under-painting with gold leaf, egg tempera and oils.
This is where I left off today.
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.
Make sure the corners are squared.
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.
It takes about a day and a half to stretch, size and prime a canvas because of the drying time.
I made a quick charcoal drawing on the canvas to put everything more or less where it belongs.
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.
This is the first session.
Session 2. Building up Color.
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.
I like to start with what I see in the mind’s eye when I read Canto VI, staying true to what I read.