Original Sin Rebirth WIP

Hiya guys, it's coming to Christmas!Yay!.. Like many who were brought up with the tradition but who don't necessarily share the personal religious significance of the occasion anymore, it's still the best time of the year and all the joyful preparations that come with it.. 

With the celebration of the birth of one, I thought I'd write the WIP of a painting that represents the rebirth of another.

Final touches on preliminary colour composition sketch

 I created this piece, to test out a new palette and technique that I was thinking of using for my next large painting. It too will have a silver metal leaf design and rather than the alla prima approach I often take I wanted to try out a more stylized crosshatch technique. (I later also tested this out in another tiny piece 'Testing DIY Silverleaf Sealant, Size & Colour Palettes'

Snake with Woman
Colour Watercolour Sketch

With a basic idea on what elements was to be included, a little research on snakes (couldn't help it but, looking at multiple images of our otherworldly friends gave me the heebee geebees) carved out a solid idea of all the shapes, patterns and sizes of our slithery friends, to construct a hopefully convincing, less unnerving specimen for the piece.. 
With a final colour composition sketch to clarify the idea and a lovely textured canvas board prepared, the preliminary work could be begun..

Support and Gilding with Silverleaf

The canvasboard was prepared with a nice palette knife texture and a raw umber tone.. The underdrawing was traced on and then the gilding paste was painted on with a fine 00 round brush wherever the silverleaf design was to be.. I used a water-based paste, so it grew tacky enough for laying on the silverleaf relatively quickly (under 15 mins). The gilding had to be completed part by part because of this, to give me time to carefully paint the details (with the paste).

Silver metal leaf laid on and left to dry for 12 hours before brushing off.

The best part of the gilding process is when one gets to brush of the excess leaf to reveal the silver gilded design underneath..

After the excess silverleaf had been brushed off and a little tidying of the edges done (adding silverleaf where need be) it was then sealed with an acrylic gloss medium..

Starting to Paint!

The underpainting was done in layers, laying on a thin couch of linseed oil first so that I could easily scumble in the raw umber underpainting.. Each layer was left to dry as they were built up, as some areas can't be darkened enough with the thin scumbling method I was using..

Painting the scales of the snake.

To get the scaly texture of the snake, I first scumbled on a layer of paint and then removed the scale texture with a turp/linseed dipped brush. This was then lightly blurred with a soft brush, so as to leave more of a suggestion and convincing look to the scales...

Underpainting Complete


Although I had a rough idea on the colour palette I wanted to use I still needed to test them out in oil interacting with the underpainting and adjacent hues.. 

A few colour swatches with different colour mixtures were done and then finally a test on a few raw umber underpainted sketches..

Colour Swatches

Palette I settled on:

Titanium White, Light Red, Cad Red, Yellow Ocher, Viridian, Sap Green, Raw Umber & Ivory Black!

I never use black in my oils and if I have I can't ever remember when. However in this case the Ivory black has just the right hue to harmonize with the silver leaf.

(Permanent Alizarin Crimson and Phthalo Blue was added later)
As mentioned earlier I wanted to try out a new method of applying the paint in this piece rather than the more blockish alla prima like application I had been using in recent pieces. The hues were finely crosshatched, blurring and carefully controlling the thickness of the paint by brushing off with a clean brush to ensure the translucency of the skin was maintained, not quite covering the underpainting beneath...

Crosshatch detail of forehead.

This crosshatch detailing was not done all over however, the rest being done in a scumbled layering of hues..

It was slow going working in this method at first, sometimes completely rubbing off parts to start all over after hours of work. This was unfortunately required, for if the immediate layer was not right I would lose translucency and freshness, as I continually built up the paint.. This fine crosshatching technique is quite time consuming anyways but after 3 days I slowly got the hang of things and progressed faster... :)

Ear detail

Completed on the easel

Later I also added Permanent Alizarin Crimson and Phthalo Blue (primarily used for the snake but also in mixtures for the skin too). I usually use Mixing white but didn't this time till the last touches, however I think I will use it (or Flake white) for the earlier stages again for future works, as I think it'll give me a little more control when it comes to the transparency of the hues throughout.

'Original Sin Rebirth' / Winsor & Newton Oil & Silver Metal Leaf on
Galleria Gesso Primed Canvas Board / Size: 7.4 x 5.1 Inches

Archival Giclee Prints Available at: Coming Soon

Thanks for the visit guys!

On to the next piece!.. :)

p.s. More info about this piece can be found at 'Original Sin Rebirth'


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