Replica 2: Northern Renaissance Wood Panel
[All images can be enlarged if you click on them]
This is the second of four replica posts. It’s standard practice for art conservation students to create replicas in order to better understand how artists and workshops created art in the past. These replicas courses focus on the materials and materials used in various regions and time periods.
The beginning of this wood panel is very much like my previous post:
In the North, Netherlandish paintings were also done on wood panels. They also required gessos as ground layers, although the materials were a bit different. But as with the Italian panel, the gesso needed to be scrapped and sanded down. Once that was done, a thin coat of lead white paint is laid down. In the North, workshops were using oil paint by the 16th century. The lead white acts as a barrier for later oil paint layers, so that the paint does not absorb into the gesso too quickly. I think the below picture is after the lead white, but it’s hard to tell.
This panel required a lot of drawing preparation. The technique of this panel is to slowly build up glazes of paint, and so the drawing must indicate the various layers of shadowing. The masterpiece we were working from is quite complex with many fabric folds and details, so the more information we could add to the drawing, the better. Below is the plastic tracing and the transfer copy I used.
After the image is transferred, the lines are reinforced with pen and brush. Below is this partially done:
Before any real color can be painted on, the shadows must first be established. For the majority of this, that means in umber brown tones. But for the left side, the figure is in black, so black is used for shadows.
We made our own paints from pigments ground in oil. The colors I have painted here have no special meaning… they were just the paints we had prepared that day. Plus I am avoiding the flesh tones. Because I hate flesh tones.
My version of Netherlandish pop art. Did I mention I hate flesh tones?
Whoa! Look at how much progress I made! I guess we made more paints that day. All the blue I used in this painting was made with Azurite, the 2nd most expensive pigment. I’m gonna get my money’s worth out of this school.
Hey look… more blue! In the original painting, the blue at the top was actually a river. But because of how I cropped my selected image, it made more sense to make it the sky.
And here’s the final painting! Man, I miss oil painting.