Jonathan Djulvezan Art Blog
This particular piece I started months ago. From scratch I grabbed 4 stretcher bars that matched in size, cut what canvas I had at the time(cotton canvas that a professor no longer needed), and stretched it to the bars. After multiple staples and layers of gesso I sanded it down and eventually applied a thin layer of sienna oil paint to tone the canvas. I sketched out the skull onto the canvas with a broad brush.
For over 3 months the painting remained on my easel untouched. Finally after a few months of doing sculpture work I came back to it with a new perspective and idea of the direction I wanted to go. The painting took 5 weeks of endless hours of working and reworking.
I have pictures of those stages. It helps bring confidence in knowing I improved and changed the piece over time. It is a common barrier for any artist sometimes; that is not being able to assess the progress from staring or working on the piece for too long.
This painting brought a few other things to my attention as well. This is a pretty large scale painting. It is fairly detailed as well. The black background really intrigues me because it makes the skull really pop out. The difficulty of course is the choice of fading the object into the black(like Caravaggio) or to simply make the object realistic, yet conceivable to belong with a solid black background. Reference always helps yet even with that sometime there is still a very sharp contrast that deems it "unrealistic".
Another point is that not too often do I focus on still life objects, but it is something I particularly enjoy at the moment because I want to bring "life" to that inadament object. I have a few still life (much smaller pieces) in the works to test out some theories or atleast learn and enjoy the process. I also have a few figure paintings in the works. I am in the planning process of a large "Vanitas" piece too.
My last point is scale and size. I have received a lot of great feedback concerning the skull and it mainly has to do with detail and the size. The painting is 34 inches square and the skull is just over 30 inches by itself. It is in all practicallity, HUGE! I then realized why I am becoming drawn into wanting to produce larger pieces more now then before. It is something one of my professors does and the impression it made on me. I am also reminded of a painting "The Black Prince" by Julian Russell Story that is on the wall here in Savannah at the Telfair Museum. The painting is HUGE! It is beyond words. I can't help, but to go there so often and just sit and stare. It is like an oil painting billboard. But more importantly is what I grasped from that: with confidence, ambition, understanding, and determination there are no limits. I don't know if I will ever produce something of that magnitude, but it is certainly tempting depending on working space and time of course. I am preparing canvases and ideas for 3 to 4 foot works. I am still working on themes. I love history and mythology.
Anyway I apologize for my long words and appreciate the opportunity to post and for your time in reading. Your comments, thoughts, questions, and ideas are always welcome!