Caravaggio Techniques and the Camera Obscura

Today I had a lively in-studio conversation with friend, colleague and restorer Eowyn Kerr on Caravaggio, his technique (did he glaze?) and why a painter should never underestimate the potential of a good table cloth.  She was even kind enough to make for me a lovely sketch on how to understand the cross-section of a painting sample (though she refused to sign it) and, in doing so, she suggested to me that Caravaggio did not lay in a lead white base for flesh to then glaze down, but rather, worked with a flesh mid-tone, then made the highlights with a flesh-colored lead white mix.  To be specific: begin the flesh with an “extender white” or “shell white” (once known as “Biacco di San Giovanni”) mixed with some yellow ochre, green earth and vermillion, then, over that, the lead white flesh.

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An Artist’s Bibliography

Listed in alphabetical order by the author’s last name.

On Art Process, Techniques and Materials

  • Aristides, Juliette. Classical Drawing Atelier. New York: Watson-Guptill Publications, 2006
  • Aristides, Juliette. Classical Painting Atelier.  New York: Watson-Guptill Publications, 2008
  • De Boisbaudran, Lecoq.  The Training of the Memory in Art | The Education of the Artist. London: Macmillan and Co., Limited, 1911
  • Eastlake, Sir Charles Lock. Methods and Materials of Painting of the Great Schools and Masters. New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 2001
  • Speed, Harold.  Oil Painting Techniques and Materials. New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1987

On Artists, Art and History

  • Alpers, Svetlana.  The Vexations of Art, Velazquez and Others.  London: Yale University Press, 2007
  • Clark, Kenneth.  The Nude.
  • Holland, Tom.  Rubicon.
  • King, Ross.  Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling.  London: Penguin Books Ltd., 2003
  • Parenti, Michael.  The Assassination of Julius Caesar.  New York: The New Press, 2004

On Deck – The Books On My Reading List

  • Farington, Joseph.  Memoirs of Sir Joshua Reynolds.
  • Sir Joshua Reynolds.  Discourses on Art.

Books to Look For:

  • George Cooke and T.L. Busby.  The Cartoons of Raphael d’Urbino.
  • Leon Batista Alberti.  On Painting.