Painting Venetian Style

I have been thinking about the "Old Masters" quite a bit lately. Perhaps because I enjoy practicing my stylistic flexibility, or perhaps simply because I am fascinated by the history of artistic styles and techniques, I have embarked upon a large portrait-- some of you may recognize the eye in the "sneak peek" photo above-- in a somewhat improvised classical Venetian style. While I am not using a chalk and glue ground, I am using raw umber as a base, applied to the canvas with a knife, and working with runny paint, varnish, and plenty of linseed oil to create the proper finish, transparency, and luminosity. While I do not intend to directly copy the style of The Masters, I do wish to capture something of their aura, without irony or surreal post-modern twists at that.

Thinking that Caravaggio's work was considered by some to be the downfall of true art, that Velazquez repeatedly wiped his brush directly onto the canvas to get rid of excess paint and then painted over the mess, that El Greco did not build up layers of varnish the way his contemporaries would have preferred, as well as many other small semi-forgotten facts makes me imagine traveling to their studios, getting to know their different sets of tools, their personalities, their goals. Perhaps this is as close to communing with these men as one can ever get.

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