Wednesday, June 16, 2010

day three--flesh pots of a different ilk

After Eucharist this morning (still no A/C in the chapel, brutal in vestments!) we gathered for reflection. This is the day of flesh, when hands and face emerge from the flat, opaque sankir to become recognizable features. Before we begin our work, however, we first bless water that in turn is used to bless our hands. (see above)
There are four blends of paint that are layered to bring the features to life, so to speak. We begin with the second flesh (the first is sankir), highlighting those portions of the face and hands that in the end appear the lightest. With each successive layer we start with these same points, then use careful brush strokes that will define the features of the face. Once again I got so caught up in what I was doing that I neglected to "document" the look between each tone of paint. You can't really see the subtlety of progression without those images, but you can see the obvious changes between the first dots of second flesh, above, and after the third flesh has been added, below.
Notice how the eyes look a tad wild before some corrective fine-tuning takes place. Notice as well that the eyebrows are nearly mirror images of each other in the early versions. This was intentional on my part when I did the tracing from the template after putting down the base of sankir on the first day. Since that time, however, I have decided to follow the original, and have adjusted the left eyebrow (seen on the right) to look like the original. More on that another time. Below is my Sinai Christ Pantocrator at the end of Wednesday. He's looking much closer to the original now with the full layers of flesh tones applied, and a pale wash lightening the look overall. Thursday we return to the hair and work on the beard. At that time I will also make some adjustments to the shadows on the neck, which were more pronounced before adding the wash.
One of the wonderful aspects of this art form is the ability to go back and correct. After doing a pretty decent job on Jesus' right hand (in blessing pose) I made a hash of it by adding the fifth flesh color without diluting it properly. Fortunately I was able to recover a reasonable look, though resurrecting the original subtle shades I had achieved was more than I had time to which I could set my hand. My robe still doesn't have the proper "antiqued" look, but I am much less concerned about that at this point. The face is most important, and I am feeling confident that I will get a look with which I will be satisfied.

Until the next installment, intrepid readers...

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