I wanted to paint from a master painting. I was searching around and I came up with Murillo’s “Saint Antonio of Gadua & El Nino”. When I visited Seville last winter, I saw this painting and I got a postcard of the image. Religious paintings are often complex and challenging because there are so many layers (more than emotional too) to contend with. I knew I had to paint it and somehow my style will come through.
I started the painting figuring out where the colors and values go. The first stage, as I like to call it, the embryo stage of painting. It looks like an abstract painting and miles from the destination. Slowly, the forms, values and shapes come together and become tighter and more refined. Faces and bodies start to appear. The more you paint, the more details you start to uncover. I had to make early decisions what to put in and what to leave out.
As you can see, the forms are starting to take shape. The lights and darks have their place. I started with the large masses and now I’m refining them by filling in the color and details.
The colors and masses become more full and I’m continually refining the facial features, the lights and darks. Though I’m aware the composition is a bit different than the original, I try to remain faithful to Murillo’s painting. But not just to copy, to make it my own. If the human connection between Saint Antonio and the child isn’t there, the whole thing won’t work.
The last stages include warming up the flesh colors, and both figures have their own. And that’s intentional. The fingers were also important, and even the toes. Finally, the blue flowers were added like the cherry on top of a sundae. It was very fulfilling to do this painting. It’s great that I challenged my own skills to paint this, and it will be exciting to see how future paintings will turn out.