Thursday, February 1, 2007

Portrait of Lawrence Lee after Anton Raphael Mengs

3'-0" x 4'-0"

This was one of my internship projects at Seattle Repertory Theater. The idea was to swap a contemporary person into a historical painting, as if you needed an on-stage portrait to both look like the actor/actress playing the role and be period appropriate. Above is my painting of Lawrence Lee, a friend of mine, after a self-portrait by Anton Raphael Mengs, circa 1775 (below). Note: the reference I was working with was printed in a book. It was darker and didn't quite match the web copy I found for this blog post. 

To get a rich black background which would stay dark under bright stage lights, the painting is on a black velour. I started by overlaying a transparency grid on the reference and stretching a corresponding string grid over the canvas. Then I transferred the drawing over in white chalk and carefully dry-brushed an under-painting in white; a heavily loaded brush would just clump and mat up the nap of the velour. The grey scale pass was essential to getting any of the other colors to read since the black velour so voraciously sucked up any available light.