Thursday, December 8, 2011

Conan Commission, part 2

The underpainting – This is always a fun part for me. It is relatively relaxing because I don’t have to think about the color, or the brushwork. My only concerns during this stage are the FORM and the VALUE arrangements.  I find this moment very exciting and inspiring, for the world of the future painting starts to reveal itself for the first time. You see a kind of magic evolve in front of you, as the white shapeless gesso surface turns into a suggestive two-dimensional world. True magic, indeed. But that’s the essence of Art, after all.  In its core, it still echoes the ancient magical ritual.

These are the colors I use for my underpainting. From left to right: titanium white, yellow ochre, cadmium red light, alizarin crimson, burnt umber, permanent red-violet and cobalt blue.

The underpainting in progress.

The finished underpainting, and a detail.

The real work starts from this point on.
I leave the relative safety of the “harbour”, and “sail” towards the unpredictable open waters of the “Ocean”. Before that I might address Minerva ( the Roman goddess of poetry, wisdom, art, magic, etc.) in a quick prayer, asking her to help me and my little “ship”, to reach the other side safe and sound.

Each painting is (should be) a new adventure, a unique act of discovery.  
As Marcel Proust, a famous French author and critic, said: “ The only true voyage of discovery … would be not to visit new landscapes, but to possess other eyes, to see the universe through the eyes of another, of a hundred others, to see the hundred universes that each of them sees”. (Also often seen translated in the shortened form: “The only real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new landscapes, but in having new eyes).


  1. Can't describe in words sir...thanks for showing the process...AMAZING!

  2. Amazing. Even as an underpainting this piece is of finished quality. I'm assuming all the colors besides yellow ochre and burnt umber are meant for tinting and maybe to establish depth with warm vs. cool colors?

  3. Ronnie, Jeff – Thank you guys, much appreciated!

    Barry – Yes, that’s correct!

  4. Thanks for taking the time to share your process, can't wait to see your next update!

  5. Awesome Petar. Your underpainting has a aesthetic beauty itself. I like so much how you work cool and warm tone in this stage already. And the power that brush strokes give to the action is amazing. I have a question: at what size do you usually prefer to paint and why? I wonder if its just a matter of detaling or somthing else

  6. Thanks, Francesco – Most of the time, the complexity and the type of the composition, as well as the basic purpose of it, suggests the size of the future painting. Some compositions “ask” for a smaller size, and some “demand” a bigger format. It has also to do with what you want to “say” with a certain painting, and how.
    The size of the Conan painting in progress is 50 x 65 cm.

  7. Thanks for the attention Petar. I really appreciate it