As I continue across the mural I am putting the paint on in very thin layers using only a small amount of medium, walnut oil alkyd and gamsol in equal amounts.
Beginning the first color layer on the figures. Starting with Elizabeth More Dauncey on the left.
Continuing with the dead color layer across the figures. Margaret Clements costume does not have much color added since they are brown. Sir John More is much more fun to paint.
Continuing with Sir John More’s robe.
Working from left to right, the fourth figure, Ann Cresacre is the next one to be worked on.
Ann Cresacre has only a small portion of her costume showing.
Sir Thomas More’s clothing is black velvet with mink lining and red velvet sleeves. His hands are covered by a muffler.
Following Sir Thomas More is his son, John and next to his is Henry Pattenson, the family fool. Henry is the only figure looking at the viewer and he is dressed like the King.
Cicily More Heron
Margaret More Roper
Lady Alice More
Window and still life
Dead color layer completed.
This part of the painting process progressed quickly. All of this work was completed from January to July of 2015.
Since January of 2015 I have been adding color over the underpainting. Interestingly it is known as the Dead Color layer. However, the color is anything but dead as you will see from the photos below.
I began on the left side with the furniture and still life pieces. During this phase I will be working out the color temperature of the painting as a whole.
Furniture and costume dead color layer.
The obstacle I am facing is the fact that I don’t have a mock set-up to work from. I am using Holbein’s line drawing and Roland Lockey’s copy of the painting for color reference. Both are somewhat lacking in color information. Reproductions of Lockey’s painting suffer from the dark areas are too dark to see detail and the light areas have no depth.
The method is very simple. I mix the color on my palette, thinly spread a layer of walnut oil alkyd over my intended area of painting and brush the color into this oil. I don’t add any shading or highlighting to the color, that is what the underpainting is for. The color should be put on the canvas so thinly that the underpainting is still visible. The next photos illustrate this process.
Dead color layer. Hutch and Elizabeth Duancey.
Dead color layer. Curtains
Dead color layer. Curtains , doorway.
Dead color layer. Floor.
Dead color layer. Floor completed.
Once the color is painted I will be finishing some areas to a high degree and others I will leave alone.
I have completed the underpainting phase of this project. A good day!
The completed under painting.
Having completed the underpainting I am now able to commence the dead color layer. This is the first layer of color added to an indirect painting.
I will first work on the background, still-life arrangements and costumes. Working into the flesh last.
I always follow Holbein’s methods of painting when I work on this group portrait.
The latest work on the project has been to refine the details in the painting. I have worked on the pearls, the folds in the costumes, hands and faces. I used Holbein’s drawings of some of the people in this group to help me refine the portraits.
The still life objects and animals have also been refined.
I have only the two indistinct portraits in the background to finalize. Once that is done, I can put the stamp of ‘completed’ on this stage and move into color.
The lemur refined.
Cecily More Heron, Margaret More Roper
Cecily More Heron, Margaret More Roper refined.
Lady Alice More refined.
Margaret More Roper refined.
John More, Henry Patenson refined.
Sir Thomas More refined.
Ann Cresacre refined.
John More refined.
The underpainting almost complete.
I decided on the window design, flower arrangement and book placement.
Worked on the King Charles Spaniel in the foreground.
Another round on the costume adornments, there are a lot of pearls and folds to refine.
Here are a couple photos of how I set up the flowers and vase. The first is the initial set-up the second is after I had worked on it.
As I continue to work across the composition I am thinking about all the aspects of the composition that will need attention. For instance; the perspective of the room, the design of the panes of glass for the window, what the vase will be or where and what should the books look like. All these incidental objects that make up the room which the characters are gathering in set the stage. It is the challenge and the fun.
When I am finished with the stage the painting will be nearly complete.
One last figure to do.
Just some animals to complete and a window and flowers and…
This week I spent time working out some drawing issues with the still life set-ups and other background ornamentation.
The window has turned out to be a challenge to draw the correctly. I had noticed that Lady Alice ( far right side) did not have enough room for her feet. That lead to moving the line where the wall met the floor. In turn caused the window look as though it was on a curved wall. Time to fix the window. The solution for this week was to make the window narrower and include the whole window sill.
At the same time I was toying with the window drawing I added the verdaccio to the next 3 figures, Margaret Giggs, Sir John More and Anne Cresacre.
Sir Thomas More’s cloak needed some definition. The folds did not make sense. He was lacking knees! This is one of the challenges of taking a line drawing to a finished painting. Holbein left out a lot of information. He knew that he would have to figure out those details when he painted the finished picture.
Sir Thomas has knees.
Verdaccio: An Italian term for black, white and yellow pigments when mixed give a grey to greenish tone depending on how it is mixed.
In this layer I will finalize the tonal values and have a complete monochromatic painting.
The drawing will be refined in this final layer before any color is applied.
The beginning layer of verdaccio.
I am leaving some of the bistre to show through in the shadows.
As I work across the painting I am correcting my drawing. The fleur de lis atop the doorway along with the perspective is also refined.
By painting this verdaccio layer I will be able to brighten up the painting since it will be hanging in an area that is not always lit.
I used a ruler (48 inches!) that has both a vertical and horizontal levels. This made it much easier to correct the hutch drawing.
Completed the decorations on the top of the hutch.
The objects in the hutch still-life were refined.
There are a few more elements to complete before I’m done with this layer.As I work across the painting I am finding elements that need attention. Such as the doorway top decorations. The clock and window.
Lady Alice, the dog and monkey (or is it a lemur?) are left to be completed.
All the elements are done. Along with the top of the doorway.
The next step is to paint the verdaccio layer which will complete the tonal under painting of the composition.