Replica 3: Venetian Oil on Canvas
[All images can be enlarged if you click on them]
This is the third 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.
17th century Venice was using oil paint on canvas! Yay! This painting took three days, I think. So it was pretty fast considering the previous one each took weeks. Check out my previous blog posts for those.
Alright, so the first step was to run around London trying to find tacks to affix the canvas to the stretcher bars.
To prepare the canvas, we wet it and stapled it to a giant piece of wood. This flattened and shrunk it so that it didn’t shrink as much when we painted it.
The stretcher bars were pre-made generic bars from an art shop.
The canvas was tacked around the front. We meant to leave spaces to create cusping of the canvas (U-shaped drying effect based on the tack placement), but mine were a bit too close together to really get any cusping.
An animal skin primer was painted on to fill any holes in the canvas weave and to make the canvas shrink that last little bit. This also tightens the canvas like a drum.
Alright. Sorry there were no pictures of those first few steps, but this was the end of the semester and I was getting tired. Below you can see the canvas divided into four sections. Each one is painted a different color of oil paint. In Venice, painters used different base colors depending on the composition. I decided to use blue/gray, beige, red/brown, and dark brown on the same painting to see if the different background colors had any affect.
The drawing for this was done very fast with just a sketch in oil paint. In the previous two replicas, very detailed drawings were transferred, but in Venice at the time of this style, drawings were quick.
Have I mentioned that I hate flesh tones? This painting was really hard for me to replicate. I am a kind of heavy painter. By that I mean I like to load up the brush and paint wet-on-wet. But to create this style, I couldn’t do that. I hadn’t learned that yet in the below picture.
Hey look, she has eyes now. But I still had no idea how to create the soft, delicate style of Venice’s early oil paintings.
Oh wait, something is happening… To get the look I needed, I had to use a very clean paintbrush with little paint and almost no excess medium added. The dry brush effect makes a soft, diffused look.
By the way, the background in the top right is is more Azurite. $$$
And here we are. Finished! I am actually really proud of the bottom left quadrant. I feel like I was successful with the fabric section. I also really like the hair. It’s been 9 years since I got my BA in Painting. And I still don’t like flesh tones. But for a quick painting in a style I’ve never done before, I think I did okay.