Still Life

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...


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