Updated: Jul 27
Not so long ago I had the great pleasure of visiting the Louvre in Paris to soak in all the arts and paintings i'd dreamed of seeing for a lifetime. It was literally a life long dream of mine that once attained I couldn't describe. I was SO proud of myself, I got to visit the Louvre all by myself on a scholarship I earned from school. I spent the entire day there, no literally. from the moment they opened till they closed. All alone I could admire my dead heros at my own pace, I remember I had a checklist in my head of artists, paintings and sculptures I had to see. The first of course was the Mona Lisa so I could just get it out of the way before the crowds went crazy for her. A few hours later I remember being a little lost and left like I was going in circles a bit so I took a turn into a massive room, without paying attention to the paintings I asked the security attendant by the door where the Rubens paintings were, she looked at me dead in the eyes and said...'this is it,' in the most unimpressed manor. I was insanely embarrassed, the room was enormous and his paintings were gigantic. I wandered the room for a little bit while feeling the pressure to now look like I appreciated his work in front of me when I already did. It was like I now had to show the attendant who didn't care that I appreciated his work with a series of leaning in to see the detail and head tilts. It made me laugh inside, so now that memory is forever etched in my brain.
This doesn't really explain how big the hall was. It was this times 4 I believe, almost in the shape of a big X If the remember correctly the room had equally as large sub sections like in the photo filled with his work. Basically this photo times 3. So when I walked in and asked where's Rubens at you can now understand her mental eyeroll.
This memory literally popped into my head as I was doing my next study by Paul Rubens himself. I started off with a really quick 20 min sketch below along with the original portrait.
I then did another sketch in pencil on a 6x8 linen board. Below you can see the stages I go through to build up the portrait. Although my portrait is only half way though i've already learnt a lot. This is also the first time I've ever used just a stark black background which I thought maybe difficult in the terms of not making the edges looking cut out however it seems to be fine so far. I am excited to finish this portrait soon. As I painted the layers quite thickly I shall wait a day or so for it to dry a little bit to continue to build it up and finish the portrait.
I see you Baba.
I originally chose this image because I loved the character in the sitters face. His hooked nose and crimson cheeks caught my eye as well as it being on a dark background. I am also a sucker for a good ear and his ear was pretty much a dark red, I love ears but they also one of my weaknesses so I am happy I chose this image as it tackles a few areas I need to improve in my portraits.
Looking at the original photo and the reference image I was using to paint this portrait my reference is much darker which lead me to make his cheeks a little too red. However this isn't really an issue I can tone it down when I take a second pass at it. What I was excited about it getting the subtle purples/blue/greys/greens in his skin tone. I used Lapis Lazuli to get those subtle colour shifts in the 'greys' of his skin. Although I have previously used Lapis Lazuli quite a bit I believe I never used it well enough to really appreciate its beauty. I can honestly say I get it now using it with skin tones. It's a beautiful blue that blends perfectly for skin tones. I am looking forward to using this beautiful pigment a lot more for portraits now! Although I liked it when I used it for still lives previously I think I can now really understand the pigment better used on flesh.