Sir Thomas More

The portrait of Sir Thomas More was selected since he is a principle subject of the final painting. This portrait combines two different underpainting methods, grisaille and bistre.

Taking the placement of the final painting, (approximately 20 feet up on the wall) into consideration the portraits will need to be bright. For example my previous oil copies (Sir Brian Tuke and A Lady with a Squirrel) appear to be too dark.

The process began in the same fashion as the previous two copies. On a masonite panel prepared with a salmon colored ground, a transfer was completed with charcoal over which ink was applied. This is similar to the method Holbein used for his portraits.

A bistre was the first layer of the underpainting to be completed. The green curtain behind the subject was painted using a second layer grisaille underpainting.

Over the bistre a dead color layer was completed using warm reds and browns on the costume but not the flesh. The flesh was painted using a different method that will be explained.  Over the grisaille a thin layer of green was painted for the curtains.

The next step was to paint the background and costume almost to a finished stage. Once this was completed, the flesh was then painted to finish. Any background or costume that needed work was painted to bring the piece to a high degree of finish.

Sir Thomas More underpainting.

Sir Thomas More underpainting.

The bistre was painted to show the value (light to dark) range of the painting.

 

Sir Thomas More underpainting 2.

Sir Thomas More underpainting 2.

The bistre was brought to a high degree of finish and the grisaille on the curtains is nearly finished.

The flesh was started with very thin layers of paint and accurate placement of shadows. By matching the light color value in the flesh I was able to retain brighter lights. Following this the shadow color was kept to a warm orange/yellow allowing the flesh to take on a warm glow.

The flesh was not painted again until towards the end.

Beginning color stage.

Beginning color stage.

The first layer of the curtains, bright yellow was painted over the light areas.

Costume and background dead color layer.

Costume and background dead color layer.

Next layer painted for the curtains was a blue/green color.

The dead color was scumbled over costume and chain of office.

Finishing color stage.

Finishing color stage.

The first layers of lights are put in on the flesh. Shadows were kept very warm (reds and oranges).

Final layers on the flesh include painting in the bright lights on cheekbones, forehead, nose and chin.

Cooler colors (grays and greens) were thinly painted in the shadow on the lower face and chin.

Highlights were added to the curtains, hat and chain.

Finished painting.

Finished painting.

My next copy is a detail of The Ambassadors portrait.

St. Thomas More Lunette Project