oday I finished my portrait of St. Anthony, and submitted it for approval. (I also had to resubmit my recovery cards because I had put “A.A.” & “ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS” in the keywords and they are copyrighted. They also asked my to be more specific about recovery in the text of the cards but I didn’t know what they meant on most of them so I left them all but one.)
To paint the card for St. Anthony, I googled images of him. It became immediately clear that he is always pictured with baby Jesus, so I also googled “father & son” images. The key in finding images to use as reference is that I don’t want to copy another painting or photo; I want to create an original image of my own. To that end, I studied one painting, on stained glass window and one photo of a father and a new born. I melded them into a single image that became my painting.
I painted the monk’s garment first and started with a blue that I wanted to be the shadow color. I had way too much color on my brush and ended up painting the entire robe blue. Then I painted over it with orange which is the color opposite of blue. In theory this will turn the blue into a neutral grayish color, but I knew it would more likely turn it brown because in order for it to be actually neutralized, the exact color opposite would have to be added; not just any blue plus any orange. My orange was too yellow and turned the robe a funky green. Now at any point, I could have panicked and given up, but I just added a red (the opposite of green). I added burnt sienna because that is close to the actual color of the Franciscan robe color of Anthony’s garment. (grey would have made him look benedictine) This worked pretty well. This technique; by the way, is similar to the way the old masters handled color and this lends an old world feeling to the painting.
Next I painted the faces. (actually, I painted the faces in between painting various layers of the garment, as I waited for that layer to dry.) Finally I painted the halos. I knew that I would have to give baby Jesus the halo of superiority, so I made his gold and St. Anthony’s silver. I tried a variety of methods to simulate gold leaf. I ended up using sumi silver watercolor for St. Anthony, and cadmium yellow mixed with iridescent medium for baby Jesus. I knew that actual gold color doesn’t scan very well, and metallic surfaces also don’t always come across in a photo reproduction.
I added a prayer I found for St. Anthony:
O gentle and loving St. Anthony,
whose heart was ever full of human sympathy,
whisper my petition into the ears of
the Sweet Infant Jesus,
who loved to be folded in your arms, and
the gratitude of my heart will ever be yours.