This is my final project for my Advance Painting Techniques class at Northwest College of Art & Design. I wanted this painting to have significant personal meaning since I would be investing in it so much. I put about twelve hours into the thumb nailing, reference finding, and in drawing my original sketch.
For my drawing reference I took two images of myself for both of the figures faces. I combine them together in photoshop and morphed the face of the face on the rifgt that would become the devil’s face. I combine a man’s face with a serpent’s face to get a sinister reptilian fallen angel look that is a little different than what I have seen Lucifer depicted as popularly. My Friend Victor has the perfect long black hair for this image and he let me get it wet and photograph him for reference. All of my references heavily influenced my drafting and my painting.
I spent a lot of time on the drawing, and even more time drawing on the canvas. I transferred my original sketch using a projector, this saved me so much time, I will be using this technique again. I spent about twenty-five hours on the underdrawing, making sure to get every detail.
After spraying the canvas with five thick layers of permanent fixative to hold the graphite on the canvas, I then moved on to glazing in color.
I mixed up phthalo blue with burnt umber, then I cut that with a-lot of paint thinner, making a very liquidy oil wash. I covered the canvas, actually covering the underdrawing completely, and then using paint thinner on Q-tips and various brushes, I used a reductive technique to create my underpainting. I love this technique, removing dark paint to sculpt my painting feels so natural; I feel like I am revealing it, like it was always there but only needed to be fleshed out. This took me about twelve ours.
After that stage had dried I used an additive technique with the same dark mix to get every detail just right. This took me another twenty hours. I really wanted to get this right, and it felt so good to do. I have worked in grayscale my entire life, so this approach made the transition to painting with color much easier on me.
I had intended to come in and add all of my colors through many layers of translucent oil paint washes. I wanted to leave everything fairly muted, and I made sure to keep every detail from in the underdrawing and underpainting. I also made sure to keep my pallets very limited. I only used phthalo blue, burnt umber, yellow ochre, crimson, naphthol red, and lime yellow. This washing process took me another forty hours.
All together I worked on this painting for about one hundred and thirty nine hours, give or take an hour that I lost track of. It was worth the toil. As I said, I wanted to imbue this painting with deep personal meaning. As a Christian, this painting represents my inner struggle with the desires of the old-me, (that the Apostle Paul speaks of in Romans,) the flesh, and the enemy of my soul, the devil. In life we are all tempted, the book of James in the New Testament talks about this extensively; well, all of scripture does, but James was the Text that has spoken to me on the subject. There is a real struggle inside of us, a war between the flesh and the born again believer, and I wanted to show this struggle in this image. The struggle between truth and the lie, the struggle between life and death, the struggle between right and wrong, good and evil, the light and the dark, humility and pride, love and self-centeredness. I wanted to show this, and the light that gives strength to the believer:
“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”
-1 Corinthians 10:13 New King James Version (NKJV)