Still Life

Friday, October 9, 2015

Slide show...selected altarpieces


I´ve come up with a slide show of selected altarpieces I´ve done over the years as a liturgical painter, and it has been brought to my attention by blog reader Mike McCarty, fellow artist/ expert photographer/ ace pool player, that  I should share this with you readers. So, my wife converted the presentation into a video and here it is...




Thursday, September 17, 2015

End result

I´ve finished the 4-meter painting I was working on recently...it now awaits packaging and shipping safely (I hope) in another, more spacious workshop...

This is how it looks finished:








...and some recent bread: A basic white, rustic sourdough... 


...and a wheat and rye sourdough loaf with oat flakes...


This is how the crumb of the rye loaf looked like. A bit tighter since I wanted it to be more of a sandwich loaf and not one with big airy holes.




Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Asturias sketches

Was up north in Asturias with the family these past couple of weeks. Did some sketches of the area we were in while there. Beautiful region, Asturias, combining mountain and sea. Only wish I was able to do more...


A view of some of the mountains around Fios, in the  area of Parres.


                                              ....and my set-up...

A valley seen from behind the town church of Fios.



Casa Cueto. A house built in the 1700s in the hamlet of Villar de la Cuesta in the area of Parres.
                                                                                                         ...and my set-up...
                      


Ruins of an old barn in Fios.
                                                                                                      ....and my set-up... 


Playa de la Atalaya in Ribadesella. In the distant horizon you can see the cliffs of Cuerres.



The medieval bridge in Cangas de Onis (without the ever-present throng of tourits).


Then there were some quick notes in my watercolor notebook...

 The main beach in Ribadesella.

Some boats anchored in the port of Cudillero.

 The beach at Lastres.

 The town church of Fios,
A fountain in the grounds of the Basilica of Covadonga.






Sunday, August 9, 2015

On the scaffold again

...but a shorter one this time.
I find myself these days dealing with a four-meter canvas, a baby brother to the eight-meter panels of a couple of years ago. This time around it is for the Papal Nunciature in Equatorial Guinea. The theme is a sort of cross between a Ressurection and an Ascension, with symbols of Christ as King and Judge, surrounded by multiple cherub figures. The composition is not mine, I was asked to follow one designed by another and agreed upon with the client, but I did modify the poses in some of the figures and the arrangement of the cherubs is completely mine.
The space I am working in is the old theater of the town near where I live and is now the property of the parish there and they were gracious enough to let me use the space which has a ceiling that can  accommodate the height of the stretcher.



And the initial design laid in with all the major elements...


Here are some selected progress shots...





And some close-up details...










...and so on...
I´ll have to get back to you on the finished product. I hope to do that soon...!







Saturday, August 8, 2015

Back at the easel

Boy, it´s  been a while...!

Actually, contrary to what it may seem, the year has been quite "painting-y" so far and I´ve had to juggle the day job and a few painting commissions in such a way that it has been feeling more occupationally schizophrenic than usual: cables have been crossing, worlds have been colliding...! And there simply haven´t been enough hours in the day to sit down and update.

Anyway, I wanted to share three small commissions that have come my way, two of them of religious themes and one landscape.
The first of the two religious themes was a representation of St. Rocco (San Roque in Spanish) for a cofradia or Brotherhood in the small village of Vinuesa in the province of Soria. It was meant to replace an older depiction of the saint in a standard the brotherhood uses in processions on his feast day. Saint Roch or Rocco lived and died in the 1300s and his feast is usually celebrated on the day he was said to have died, the 16th of August.  He was a Christian saint and confessor  and he is specially invoked against the plague on account of his tending to those sick of this disease. Eventually, he too fell ill and had to be banished from society, living as a hermit in the woods somewhere subsisting on bread that was brought to him miraculously by a nobleman´s dog (whose name, according to some sources -- beats me as to how it came to be known-- was Melampo ). So the Brotherhood wanted a traditional depiction of the holy man, normally represented as a pilgrim with the pilgrim´s hat of St. James, together with Melampo bringing him a piece of bread, and with the saint showing off one of his wounds resulting from the plague. This is what I initially showed the clients as a first idea, playing around with several poses and so on...

                                                 
                                       
                                         

                                                                               
...They eventually opted for a combination of the second and third ideas, the pose of the saint in the third and the seated dog of the second.  So off I went and started on the oil...This is how it looked with the colors blocked in and the face of St. Rocco starting to develop its final features.
        

...and this is how it looked finished...


I used the landscape we have around here in our area as a background for the scene. I figured his area must have looked quite similar.

The second religious subject I was asked to do was a depiction of Mary the Un-doer of Knots. The client is a good friend as well as an ex-student of mine back in the days when I used to do some drawing and painting instruction, and who now lives in San Diego. I must confess that, despite my many years specializing in Liturgical Art, I was totally unfamiliar with the Marian title "Un-doer of Knots". The devotion is originally German, apparently, and you may read about its history  (click here)  . I was grateful to have been given some freedom in representing this theme, not having to merely execute a copy of the original image. So this is what I came up with...


That´s a black mamba Our Lady is stepping on, by the way...I had to look that one up, I´m not exactly the go to person for animals. I was pretty pleased with the way this one turned out as it gave me a chance to play around with drapery as well as the human figure. 

And the third piece is the Toledo city scape I had been working on in the Spring and which was the subject of previous posts. Here is the final product.



And recently I´ve been asked to paint and have been working on a four-meter painting--another religious motif for the Papal nunciature in Equatorial Guinea in Africa.....more in the next post...


                                                         


Sunday, April 5, 2015

Small pieces


Happy Easter!!
Getting back into the groove of anything after an absence is usually a slow process, theoretically at least, and in my case the process has come in spurts. But, this week I´ve been able to come up with small pieces, little "exercises" for no other reason than to put paint down on a surface and observe and record what I have in front of me. Nothing earth-shaking, nothing people will marvel at any time in the future, trust me. Here they are, nevertheless, the four small oils that make up this post...


Academia de Infantería, Toledo
oil on canvas on panel, 16 x 23 cm
This is from my previous post, sorry for the repeat, just wanted to lump this together with the rest since it was done in these last four days. 


Squirrel brush
oil on canvas on panel, 16 x 23 cm


Peeled clementine
oil on canvas on panel, 16 x 23 cm


Red gate
oil on canvas, 20 x 23.5 cm










Wednesday, April 1, 2015

...more Toledo

Taking advantage of a few days off work, as we´re right in the middle of Holy Week here in Spain, I drove down to Toledo again today with my son. He´s a first year Architecture student and likes sketching on site as well, so he goes off to do his drawings while I do my stuff.
I wanted to start the final painting on site--get all the elements placed properly, deal with the proportions and lay down some basic color. The scene is quite daunting, what with all the little structures crammed together in a city that definitely had no planning whatsoever, so I wanted to place a few of the major elements which will serve as a reference point for the smaller ones.

It was a beautiful day, cool when I started and verging on hot by the time I packed up. My chosen spot also happens to be the spot of an endless stream of tourist buses unloading eager tourists as they mill about taking snapshots of the city and countless selfies. Makes it a bit hard to tune out and focus on the task at hand but, hey, I don´t own the spot....



My set up and the initial charcoal outline painted over in a thinned-out neutral color. That stain in the middle of the canvas is the result of having had to rub out globs of paint that had ended up on the canvas after it had fallen with a gust of wind. Slight mishaps are bound to happen. No harm done.


And this is how the initial block-in looked like by the time I decided to call it a day...more to come...

But, I also took advantage of where I was to shift my attention to a smaller detail of the whole view and painted this sketch in about 2 hours. Oil on canvas on panel, about 15 x 23 cm. 


Am not really sure what that structure is that sits atop the hill, nor the name of the fortress on the left middle ground. I just liked the way the light played on these elements as well as on the rocks on the side of the hill. It was good exercise...


Saturday, March 14, 2015

Toledo

...look who´s back....!
I really wish I could update this blog more often, it is  kind of neglected...so, here we go...

I´ve been asked to paint a view of the city of Toledo, adopted city of Domenicos Theotokopolus, "El Greco" for those who know him by that name, "Dom" for those of us who knew him. This was an unexpected commission and a more than welcome one, I mean, what painter worth his lead white wouldn´t jump at the opportunity to paint a view of this historical city where the 3 main Faiths of the world have lived harmoniously together for centuries?
So, off I went and got cracking, albeit intermittently due to other obligations, and did some prelim sketches of the place. The gentleman who has commissioned the painting had a specific view in mind: looking towards the city from the other side of the river Tajo along a highway leading to the Ermita de la Virgen del Valle (for those of you reading that know the area), which is  an elevated vantage point that allows for a fantastic view of the whole town.

I had never been on that spot on that highway and it is truly  a magnificent spot to park your vehicle and just behold the whole city in front of you with the Tajo winding around it like a belt of some sort, fastening it jealously to the flat, Castilian landscape which surrounds it.


...so I did some initial thumbnails, here are a couple...



...then, I proceeded to do a quick watercolour in situ, just to get a feel of the whole thing, something like rehearsing some lines before an interview....


It was great being able to do that on site after such a long period of deprivation. Apparently. the area where I was is a usual spot for tourist buses to stop and let their fare out to stretch their legs and take pictures of the city. Can´t blame them, actually...
This last watercolour proved too panoramic and horizontal for my client who wanted a bit more verticality to the format and more sky, so I made another sketch and came up with this...


...which he liked and was happy with, but which I think needs further adjustments in the final painting. In this watercolour, the horizon is smack dab in the middle of the painting, something which   has always bothered me since it divides the whole thing into two equal parts instead of the one part playing harmoniously with the other part. So, I´ll most likely adjust that. I am hoping to start the painting soon, on site, at least to get the initial stages going and later continuing from the studio from reference photos. 
...More to come, I hope...

...As a post script...
All fired up by this new project, I made this watercolor of another small little town in the northern Castilian area this time. A little village called Ayllón, in the province of Segovia., where some dear friends live. This little street corner endeared itself to me...