Since I've taken on the Dante's Inferno project a year ago I've been on a journey that has forced so many unexpected changes in my life. Not only has this been one of the most productive years in my studio but it has also been the biggest year in terms of doing business. I've had more collector visits, modeling sessions, business meetings and impromptu visits to my studio than ever before. My productivity alone has made my small 144 sq. foot studio in my home become so crowded I have very little room to work. Currently, I can only fit 5 of the 40 panels I will be painting in this series. Most importantly it has become a necessity for me to separate my business from my home and family and to create a space large enough to not only give me the space to work on my Dante project and my commission work but to have a space large enough to display the work for my collectors. In short, I need a new studio space. Fortunately, I have a 160-year-old carriage house in the back of my property and the carpentry talents to transform this space on my own. I've already begun work framing out the interior but I do not have enough funds to complete the project in time for the changing seasons. I am asking for help to enable me to build a new 600 square foot studio that is adequate for me to work in. It will require me to frame out a floor and walls, insulate, drywall and put in a heating system to allow me to work in it during the coming winter months. If you can contribute in any way you will be directly responsible for helping me see my epic Dante's Inferno series through to the end in 2021. I thank you in advance for your kind generosity. Click here to support my new studio fund.
I was going to post two of the preliminary drawings for sale this morning but before I had the chance to I sold the one of Beatrice to a private collection! I do, however, still have a drawing I did of Homer in preparation for Canto 4, Panel 5: Dante and Virgil Visit the Great Poets of Antiquity in Limbo.
The drawing is charcoal on toned paper, 9 x 12" and for sale for $150. Email me using the form below to purchase.
My drawing of Beatrice, sold to a private collection 9 x 12", charcoal on toned paper
Things are starting to develop well on panel 5. I was a little concerned about the layout of some of the figures in this composition the last few days. Once I did the rough in I wasn't entirely confident with the proportions of each face. Once I was able to get all six heads roughed in I decided to take on the face that I had the most issues with. After three hours last night, I took the photo above of Horace. Another hour or so working on the eye, beard, lips, and crown and it should look better.
I've had a lot of people asking to see what my process looks like behind the scenes painting Dante's Inferno. I really love to share the experience here on my blog so you can see how things have been coming together. This week I sold one of the preliminary drawings I did of Dante to a private collection so I've decided to offer another one of Virgil from Canto 2. It's a beautiful charcoal on toned paper drawing, 9 x 12" and available for $150 plus shipping. Anyone interested can email me here.
This is a great opportunity to own a little piece of this epic series. I'll be offering drawings like this while I paint the series. This one I did in preparation for Canto 4 sold to a private collection last week.
I've started working on my panel 5 of the Inferno last night. I've decided to skip panel 4 (Charon) since I don't have the model for it at this time. I met a really nice gentleman three years ago when I was being fitted for a suit. He was an assistant to the tailor and he had such a unique face I thought he'd be perfect for one of my paintings in the future. Fortunately, I found the card he gave me so I'm hopeful I can reconnect with him. As for panel 5, all of my models were local. You may recognize the model in the center is from my painting of St. Jerome and The Guitarist. The one below him, playing Homer, is my model for The Confession. The model in front of him is the same model I used for my painting of St. Sebastian Confronts Emperor Diocletian. The title of this painting is Dante and Virgil Visit the Great Poets of Antiquity in Limbo. This is a place where Dante puts the virtuous men of antiquity who were good men on earth but pre-dated the coming of Christ. You may recognize it will have similar surroundings to my panel 2.
Check out the new behind the scenes video painting Canto 2
I took a quick photo with the first three panels in my Dante's Inferno series over the weekend. When I announced the project last year I realize my intentions may have not been completely understood. Now, having completed the first three panels you can imagine what the scale of these 40 panels will look like and what an undertaking this project is. I can't thank you enough for all of the support you've given me over the last year. There is so much more work to do. Thank you!
It was a very tough two weeks but I was able to finish Canto 2 on June 13th. During this same time I was working on a double portrait commission, two custom tabernacle frames I had to build and a crate I had to build for the Temptation of Christ Commission that was shipped to the collector in Ireland this past Friday. Needless to say, I had no time to take photos and do color corrections. I'm very glad to finally share these photos with you now that I've rested and feel like my eyes are working again.
This one was really tough due to all of the detail in the background and the many folds of fabric I had to paint the last few days. Beatrice was wonderful to paint and it was nice to paint something angelic in the midst of a setting that is so cold and dark. It presented many challenges but so far I've received a lot of good feedback on how things were handled so I'm very happy about that. The last week was especially hard and I was working on little or no sleep to get this finished in time to be viewed by some of my collectors this past Sunday. My contacts were really bothering me and my eyes were burning a lot from a lack of sleep. I had to skip my time in the gym the last two weeks. I don't think I would have been able to stay up or recover if I pushed it anymore. Fortunately, everything turned out great and I was able to catch up on sleep the past two days.
Where to go now? Since my schedule is now open I've decided to work on two panels at a time. This time I will be working on Canto 4: Charon, Ferryman of the Dead and Canto 5: Dante among the great poets of antiquity in Limbo. I should have all I need to start on Canto 5 by the end of the week. Thanks for all of your support!
I'm happy to finally be back to working on the figures in this painting. I've said it a million times during my career - I'd rather paint a million figures than one piece of architecture. Fortunately, it went well and I'm going to spend the last few days working on Virgil and Beatrice and their immediate area around them. I saved the best for last on this one. I posted some video on my Instagram page showing the progression of Virgil's face. You can see it below.
Looking at where I am on this project at the moment I realize I need to pick up the pace on this series in order to be finished in time for 2021. I've been working on so many commission pieces on top of this I'm hoping to get more contributions to the project so I can dedicate all of my time to it without taking on additional work. I'm also working on putting up a Patreon campaign so look for that soon. I'm juggling a lot but it will be all worth it in the end. To really kick things into gear I've decided to not work on just one panel (Canto 4) but two at a time (Cantos 4 &5). This should be just the kind of push I need to accelerate my pace. Wish me luck. Thanks again for all of your support.
In the grand scheme of a painting it's the combination of big moments and little moments that make a successful painting. This painting is taking that statement to the extreme when it comes to all the stone architecture in the ruins behind the two figures. I've been working on this part for days. Fortunately I'm rounding out my sessions in the next day or so and I'll be able to resume working on the two figures. This isn't the best shot (the top is washed out a little by my lighting) but it demonstrates how far I am at the moment. Hopefully, by my next post I'll be back to working on the two main figures.
Over the last week, I've roughed in the faces for both Virgil and Beatrice. I posted some videos detailing the process and were both some of the most viewed posts I've ever had. In case you didn't get the chance, you can see them here:
- Speed painting of Virgil
- Speed painting of Beatrice
The painting is going really well so far. I will be working on the courtyard and the castle ruins surrounding Beatrice and Virgil over the next few days. It's pretty tedious work but I'm looking forward to seeing it painted. It's my goal, along with balancing a few extra commissions in my studio, to have this painting finished in the next 10 days or so.
I'm really excited to see how much this project is beginning to pick up steam. I know many people were excited to see me paint this series but now that I have pictures of several panels together I can see many people starting to get an idea of what I set out to do. It's only going to grow and get more challenging and to be honest, I can't wait! Thanks to everyone for your support!
A few days ago I finalized the composition of Canto 2 in my Dante's Inferno series. The subject of this panel will be Beatrice Visits Virgil in Limbo. The purpose of this panel is to introduce Virgil to the story. I was able to communicate with Dr. Kleinhenz over the weekend to get his feedback on the composition. In Dore's composition, it merely has the two characters in an open field. I wanted to be sure that the surroundings of "limbo" were properly illustrated.
In Dr. Kleinhenz's words, "Dante describes the Noble Castle with the greensward inside the walls and the darkness that reigns outside the bubble of light that enclosed the castle and all the inhabitants. This representation is perfect, for it captures well the typical manner of describing pre-Christian folks as being in darkness before the coming of the light. The light that illuminates Limbo essentially is their “light of reason” that is sufficient for themselves but not for their salvation. The darkness that encloses the light is the perfect way to describe the plight of the pagans who are self-sufficient but lacking the divine light that did/does not penetrate the surrounding darkness.
But what about Beatrice’s visit? Well, she would have come to see Virgil, who undoubtedly was conversing with his fellow poets, perhaps on the greensward – there is no reference in the poem to a bower of shade trees, etc., as Dore and others portray the scene – but without doubt within the confines of the castle."
For this, I have decided to illustrate their surroundings as being in the ruins of a castle with an open courtyard. A light from Beatrice will illuminate much of the composition. The model I've selected to play Beatrice will be Adrienna who has modeled for my paintings of Daphne and Delilah.
I'm really excited to work on this painting. Unfortunately, I may have to take the night off. I worked a little too late last night and only slept 3.5 hours before I had to get the kids ready for school. Tomorrow I'll rough in the scenery a little more and punch up the contrast for the following layers.
I spent most of the night working on the environment around Dante's feet last night. It's hard to tell by the photo here because a lot of the dark tones went flat because I used very little medium on the textures. It will be easier to see once I glaze some more shadows into that area. The same can be said for the leaves to the left of Dante in the background. In another two days I should have most of the background finished so I can get back to the clothing. I'd like to see this panel finished in another week. I've been working back and forth on a commission of The Temptation of Christ so this has been a little slower than normal.
I'm at the halfway point of Canto 1. The face is finished and part of his hood. I've began working on the left side of the background last week and I'm moving into the left bottom painting a lot of trees and moss. I'm balancing both the painting of Canto 1 and a commission of my painting of The Temptation of Christ that was commissioned for a collector in Ireland. I should have both paintings finished by the end of the month.
I'm already getting ready for panel 2, which will feature Beatrice. Last week I secured a model for that painting and she will be visiting my studio next week to prepare for the next painting.
Things are going very well so far. I've been working on the painting now over a week and I have the face of Dante finished and the entire background and figure roughed in. My goal is to wrap the painting up in the next week or so. I've also had three approvals on some extraneous commissions I've been working on this week that should open up even more time for me to work on Canto 1. I'm already starting to think about Canto 2 and who will be playing Beatrice. I'll have to elaborate on that in my next post along with some ideas for a composition. Enjoy the images and videos. The response to these two videos alone last week gleaned over 32,000 views!
After months of trying to get the right models for Dante and Virgil, the proper look and feel of the costumes, and to prepare the right poses and hire numerous models for all the 40 panels, I am ready to paint the entire series. It's one thing to say you're going to do something this epic. In the last few months, I came to understand that it is an entirely different story actually doing it. I'm not just painting a group of paintings, I'm recreating a whole world, a time-period and attempting to bring out emotions in characters like they've never been depicted before. From this point, I will be painting the remaining 39 large panels in order. This is my sketch from day 1 of Canto 1.
Check out some of the studio shots and videos I posted on Instagram for the Dante's Inferno Project.
After several weeks of working with models traveling out of the area to do photo shoots for reference, I'm ready to dive into the whole series from the beginning. I was held back a few weeks ago when I found I didn't have a model to work with for the character of Dante and my model for Virgil had recently been in the hospital for foot surgery. I had considered jumping ahead to Canto 7 or Canto 9 so I could continue progress on the series but I ran into complications with some of the poses for those Cantos as well. In the end, it all worked out for the better. I now have most of the reference material I need to put together most of the compositions for each of the 40 panels. Any supplemental poses and modeling sessions I'll need over the next 3 years I'll seek out when it is necessary.
I am going to be starting on Panel 1 from Canto 1 tomorrow. Now that I am ready it only makes sense to start this journey, albiet for me an artistic one, from the beginning and follow the poem in order until the end. I'll post once I get started.
After several months of planning and painting the first panel in my series, Canto 3, is finished. The only thing I was unhappy about is that the painting took as long as it did. There were many weeks where I was trying to find the right look for the costumes, how the fabric flowed and in the end, I was able to purchase the right fabric and "look" that I wanted. I don't forsee this as being a problem going forward. Also, I was swamped two different times with commissions and the holidays played a part in distracting me away from my studio. All in all, I probably worked on the painting for 4 weeks total. I'd like to see each painting, going forward, down to 2-3 weeks each. Thanks for all the kind remarks about the first panel. I hope you'll stick around to see the other 39.
Happy New Year, everyone. Sorry, it has been so long since I posted an update. Over the last two months, I've been involved in several exhibitions, a very demanding art competition and tons of commissions that came in just before the holiday season. To make matters worse I slipped a disc in my back on Dec 30 and lost a few days of painting time until I was able to sit upright and work for long periods. Fortunately, it's now eight days later and I'm feeling almost 100% again and I'm looking forward to getting back in the gym to work out.
Check out some of the short videos I shot and posted on Instagram in the last two weeks while working on Canto 3.
In the last few weeks, I painted all of the rock formations in the foreground and gradually made my way to the distant sky and mountains. I posted some video on Instagram in mid-December when I was painting Virgil's face. I got a lot of positive feedback for that and when I posted a few videos of me painting the sky later in December. You can see some of them above. I'm really excited to finish this painting up. With my schedule opening up now you can expect me to paint one of these panels every few weeks. My goal is to do 20 this year. We'll see how things end up at the year's end.