Modigliani was an Italian painter who painted mainly in France during the 1920s. He was a figurative painter who was known for his modern style. His style was characterized by mask-like faces and elongation of form. Sadly, he died at age 35 from meningitis caused by poverty, overwork and addiction to alcohol and narcotics.
Allow 1 ½ hours for this exercise.
You will need:
- 1 set of oil crayons (these are usually inexpensive)
- 1 A3 size piece of good quality paper which will take some heavy duty “crayoning” (you can use a smaller piece of paper if you wish.)
- 1 bottle of baby oil (I used coconut oil.)
- 1 6B graphite pencil
- A clean rag or disposable kitchen cloth.
- A picture to copy from. It is best to use a person with their neck and shoulders visible in the snapshot. Great photos are obtainable from www.morguefile.com with no restrictions on copying.
- 1 medium sized paint brush (watercolour brushes are good)
In true Zen style, you will approach this exercise with no purpose in mind; you are doing it for the fun of it, the joy of it. If you can let go and enjoy the process, you will be surprised at the result.
Tape your paper to a board (optional).
Loosely draw in the figure with a black oil crayon. Make sure to show the head, shoulders and clothing. The more elongated the face and neck the more like a Modigliani your work will be.
Fill in all over the drawing with light coloured crayon. I had only a dull orange so went over it again with white. Don’t worry about staying within the lines, just colour over everything. The grey smudges will add life to the work.
Select your colours and place them out of the box. To obtain colour harmony it is best to restrict yourself to either:
- Red, green, black and white or
- Yellow/orange, blue, black and white
You may use various tones of these colours so get out all the reds, all the greens, black and white or all the yellow/oranges, all the blues, black and white.
Colour the shapes with the selected colours. Go over them again with another colour to blend and make interesting shades. Go over the colours a third time to make sure there is a thick coating of oil crayon. The more oil crayon on the paper the more the work will look like an oil painting.
Paint the baby oil on all sections of the drawing. Make sure to wipe your brush clean with a kitchen cloth before painting over a new section. This will help to avoid “muddiness” of colours.
Draw in the outlines again with your 6B pencil to sharpen up the image. Make it nice and dark and keep your marks loose. You may wish to hold the pencil by the tip to loosen up. Don’t worry if you go outside the lines. That’s what makes a loose authentic picture drawn by a unique person – you!
In the end, I thought my painting made the girl look too pretty. If you research Modigliani’s work, you will see the elongation much more pronounced and the faces more mask like. If you would like to paint Modigliani’s “Woman with Black Cravat”, in acrylics follow this Zen School post in the Copy Famous Artists series.
Here is a portrait done by Modigliani for you to compare your work with.