What is it?
“Woman with Black Cravat“, a painting done by Italian artist, Amedeo Modigliani in 1917
How was this painting done?
Modigliani used simple suggestive lines to create this portrait. He layered one colour on top of the other and it seems he commenced with a green undertone. The secret to the vibrancy of this painting is the contrast between the warm colours such as red and orange in the face and the green throughout the painting.
Modigliani’s has stripped the initial drawing down to the bare essentials yet the personality of the sitter still shows. Perhaps he was our first minimalist. His portraits show the sitters with a mask-like appearance, distinctive almond eyes, pursed mouths, twisted noses, and elongated necks similar to African tribal masks.
Why should we care?
Modigliani despised his academic training and the art establishment of the time. To go against the bourgeois, he developed his own unique style, one that could not be adequately categorized with other artists. Modigliani lived a life of debauchery and rebelliousness. His rebelliousness and use of hashish and absinthe created the genesis of Modigliani’s style which we enjoy so much today.
Where can I find more paintings like this?
It has been said that Modigliani inspired the paintings of Diego Riviera and Frida Khalo although I was unable to see this link. It seems Modigliani painted in a unique style which inspired no known artists in Paris in the early 1900s.
Meditate, relax and enjoy
There can be no mistakes in making this painting. Everything ends up as it should be. Take the luxury of “time out” to recreate this fabulous painting in acrylics yourself, here’s how:
You will need
- a small canvas, 30cm x 40cm is a good size
- tubes of primary acrylic colours, blue, red and yellow plus white
- a dark water soluble crayon
- soft nylon paint brushes, (small, medium and a little larger)
- water in an old container
- a rag or disposable cloth
- an hour or two
Tips on the Process
- prime the canvas first, otherwise, just a wash and dry with a towel
- print the photo you want to work from, measure and cut into quarters to make your drawing in a grid
- turn the original photo upside down to make the drawing
- use a dark coloured water soluble crayon for your drawing
- correct drawing right-side up from the original
- erase crayon easily with a damp cloth
- it is okay for the water soluble crayon mark to bleed into the painting
- everything is easily painted over with acrylics
- paint in the background first
- try not to use paint directly from the tube; experiment with how to mix colours
- create a perfect skin tone by blending warm yellow, warm red, a dot of cool blue and lots of white, experiment first
- layering colours on top of others using the scumbling technique creates magic
- acrylics dry darker than the mixed colour
The Drawing Process
Turn your photo upside down and draw the space around the drawing first. This is just a framework to place the figure on the page and you can easily correct right-side up with the dampened cloth as I have done below.
Otherwise, you may use my drawing below. I suggest you ask your copy shop to print the PDF below onto a canvas and proceed to make your own unique painting. Otherwise, you can print the copy on to good quality paper, paint the picture and frame it. It’s your painting after all!
This was my finished painting. I will probably revisit this painting to make the brushstrokes much more impressionistic (especially in the background) as Mogdiliani has done.
A related post on Modigliani using oil crayons was created on this site some years ago.
Image of the original Modigliani painting accessed 01/11/2016