Today in the studio Saint Francis went ‘under the brush’. By the time I’d finished painting for the day it was too dark to take a photograph without setting up arc lamps, and I’m too tired for that. I shall do one tomorrow morning. Here instead are two versions of the Saint preaching to the birds as imagined by Giotto.
Getting the Saint right is going to be challenging, not least because I’ve elected to show him naked. Francis was forever giving his clothes away to those less fortunate. His nakedness enables me to explore the vulnerability and the agony of sublimated flesh. I started today with his torso, working with a very limited palette. Lot’s of blue/grey with a hint of rose madder to warm the surface slightly. But he looks cold and pained despite this. I’m looking forward most to working on the legs, mainly because I greatly enjoy expressive feet. (The legacy of all my years as a choreographer!) The Saint’s left foot is twisted in the under-drawing, taking all the tension of his awkward kneeling position. (I intend to make the knees reddened, as though he’s been on them far too long.) But I shall put this off a while yet, saving the best for last. Tomorrow I’ll get to work on his face and hands.