Oh, Father

It had to happen eventually: a blog with a title inspired by a Madonna song.  “Oh, Father” was a lesser-known song off the “Like A Prayer” album of the late 1990s.  That said, it did have a video which was included on the VHS of “The Immaculate Collection” but not on the CD.

It was actually a very touching song about Madonna’s mother’s death and her relationship with her father.  The video is evocative and unnerving, but sincere… and kind of creepy.  There is one scene where the little girl (playing Madonna) sees her mother in the coffin, with her lips sewn shut and she purses her own lips nervously – almost visibly grappling with this early confrontation with death.  It’s hard to describe, so I’ll just suggest you check it out on YouTube.

The ‘father’ that inspired this blog was much more avuncular; a retired Episcopal priest who sang and joked and chatted every moment he wasn’t modeling for the Old Town Artists last night.  He explained the Greek origins of the cross he was wearing, he spouted quotes in French that nobody else understood, and took copious photographs of the drawings and paintings that people made of him.

Here’s mine:

…and here’s a little study I did before starting the main picture:

Both pictures are made with successive layers of watercolor washes. The color is a combination of sepia and black, so it’s a little richer than a plain India ink.  I used pencil to layout the study, but the main picture was sketched out very lightly with extremely diluted watercolor instead of graphite.

The larger areas of tone were laid down layer by layer, getting darker and bolder along the way.  I had to switch to larger and larger brushes twice along the way: the small brush encouraged too much fussiness.  One of the struggles was getting the dark areas as dark as possible.  It’s tempting to be timid.

I added the line work at the very last minute, before the time was up; first on the face, then on the jacket and hands.  The face probably could have been a little darker on the left, and a little more detailed, but the underlying wash was still too wet, and time ran out.  I’m not sad about it, though.  The essential character is already there.  The drawing feels finished, not overworked, and balanced.  In the end, that’s what really matters.


This entry was published on October 27, 2012 at 2:03 pm. It’s filed under Drawings, Figures, Portraits, The Artistic Process, Watercolors and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

7 thoughts on “Oh, Father

  1. Pingback: Priest Alley « Gabriel Garbow | Artworks

  2. Congratulations your painting is beautiful, I especially like the limited palette used.

  3. This is beautiful, Gabriel. Have to check out the song by Madonna. I’m nit familiar with it.

  4. I actually know that song by Madonna, Gabriel, I like it a lot.
    The priest sounds like quite a character! Your painting of him, very good once again, reminds me of one of those really old photographs (which may have something to do with the colour you have used). I’d love to be able to paint something like that!

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