June 2017 - The First Three Panels Finished

 In front of panels 1-3 of my Dante's Inferno series.

In front of panels 1-3 of my Dante's Inferno series.

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!

Canto 2: Beatrice Visits Virgil in Limbo - FINISHED!

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!

Canto 2: Background Finished - Back to the Figures

 Finished another pass on the face of Virgil.  Working on his clothing today.  

Finished another pass on the face of Virgil.  Working on his clothing today.  

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.

 

Canto 2: Castle Ruins

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.

Canto 2: Faces Roughed In, Starting Background

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!

Canto 2: Composition is Roughed In

 Canto 2 grisaille next to the finished paintings of Canto 1 and 3 in my studio - April 27, 2017

Canto 2 grisaille next to the finished paintings of Canto 1 and 3 in my studio - April 27, 2017

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.

 The grisaille for Canto 2.  I finished this up around 1:40AM last night.  

The grisaille for Canto 2.  I finished this up around 1:40AM last night.  

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.  

 Delilah  11 x 14" 2014

Delilah  11 x 14" 2014

 Daphne   11 x 14"  2014

Daphne   11 x 14"  2014

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.

Canto 1: Finished!

 After three weeks of painting, Canto 1 is officially finished.  I'll be moving on to the next panel, Canto 2 early next week.  I have a model coming tonight to get some of the initial compositional elements worked out.  I'll update once I get the next one started.  Thanks for all your kind comments!

After three weeks of painting, Canto 1 is officially finished.  I'll be moving on to the next panel, Canto 2 early next week.  I have a model coming tonight to get some of the initial compositional elements worked out.  I'll update once I get the next one started.  Thanks for all your kind comments!

Canto 1: Painting Mossy Roots and Rocks

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.

Canto 1: Halfway Point

 My studio as of the morning of March 8, along side a commissioned copy of my painting "The Temptation of Christ"

My studio as of the morning of March 8, along side a commissioned copy of my painting "The Temptation of Christ"

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.  

Canto 1: Full Steam Ahead

 My studio as of March 1.  Working simultaneously on Canto 1 and a copy of my painting "The Temptation of Christ," commissioned by a collector.

My studio as of March 1.  Working simultaneously on Canto 1 and a copy of my painting "The Temptation of Christ," commissioned by a collector.

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!

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Now it Begins...

 My studio February 18, 2017.  I had to rearrange all of the artwork I have available in my inventory to make space for the enormous amount of paintings coming from this series.  

My studio February 18, 2017.  I had to rearrange all of the artwork I have available in my inventory to make space for the enormous amount of paintings coming from this series.  

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.

 Work in progress:  Day 1 on Canto 1.  Roughing in the composition

Work in progress:  Day 1 on Canto 1.  Roughing in the composition

Check out some of the studio shots and videos I posted on Instagram for the Dante's Inferno Project.

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Ready to Dive In

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.  

 My homemade stocking hat I made for my Dante model to wear for the poses.  I had a terrible time finding the red stocking hat so I had to make one out of canvas and dye it red to match the outfit I purchased.  Fortunately the white part of this outfit, the Renaissance linen coif, I was able to purchase off of an artisan from Etsy -  A Stroll Through Time

My homemade stocking hat I made for my Dante model to wear for the poses.  I had a terrible time finding the red stocking hat so I had to make one out of canvas and dye it red to match the outfit I purchased.  Fortunately the white part of this outfit, the Renaissance linen coif, I was able to purchase off of an artisan from Etsy - A Stroll Through Time

Canto 3: Finished!

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.  

Canto 3 - Almost finished

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.

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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.

 

Canto 3 - Day 1: Grisaille

I made the decision last week, to begin with, Canto 3.  It was more of a practical choice because the model I chose for Dante would not be available to pose until mid-November, thus I chose a canto with a back pose for the main character.  Choosing to start with this panel was also a symbolic choice for me as it marks the beginning of my voyage as an artist.  Where this artistic journey will take me over the next 2-3 years I do not know but it will be transformative and historic. This project is unlike any epic project I've ever taken on.  It has taken me months of contemplation, sketching from models, arranging compositions, consulting with Dante scholar, Professor Kleinhenz and having the guts to move forward, not knowing how this will all evolve.  I appreciate all the support I've received the last few months, all the financial contributions from private collectors and the support I received from Jerry's Artarama.  I could not have done this without you.

 Day 1 with the first AlumaComp aluminum panel from Jerry's Artarama (protective film still attached to the substrate)

Day 1 with the first AlumaComp aluminum panel from Jerry's Artarama (protective film still attached to the substrate)

 AlumaComp panel (brushed side up) - applying the first coat of grey acrylic gesso

AlumaComp panel (brushed side up) - applying the first coat of grey acrylic gesso

 Smoothing out the third and final coat of acrylic gesso.  After a few hours of drying time I sand the panel down using a sand paper block.  Start with 100 grit and progress to 200 grit for a smooth finish

Smoothing out the third and final coat of acrylic gesso.  After a few hours of drying time I sand the panel down using a sand paper block.  Start with 100 grit and progress to 200 grit for a smooth finish

 Doing a rough sketch grisaille of Canto 3.

Doing a rough sketch grisaille of Canto 3.

 Day 1 - Canto 3 - finished the rough in of the panel

Day 1 - Canto 3 - finished the rough in of the panel

11/3/2016 Meeting With Professor Kleinhenz

 Artist Eric Armusik and world-renowned Dante scholar Dr. Christopher Kleinhenz on 11/3/2016

Artist Eric Armusik and world-renowned Dante scholar Dr. Christopher Kleinhenz on 11/3/2016

This past Thursday, November 3, 2016, I finally had the opportunity to meet with Professor Christopher Kleinhenz in person during a lecture he was giving in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  Professor Kleinhenz and I have been talking via the phone and sharing information about the project since July 2016.  This was the first time we met face to face and we were excited to talk in depth about the project before his lecture. Later that evening, I was able to attend his brilliant lecture, Poetry and the Visual Arts in the Medieval World: Dante's Divine Comedy.  The timing could not have been better as I was already working on the composition for the first panel this weekend.  Once again, I'm so grateful that Professor Kleinhenz will be working with me closely throughout the project to advise me on my compositions so that they stay true to the original intent of the poem written almost 700 years ago.

The Good News About My Failed Kickstarter Campaign

The Good News About My Failed Kickstarter Campaign

As many of you know, my Kickstarter campaign for my Inferno project has ended. Upon launching the campaign in mid August, I was immediately approached by several private collectors that wished to contribute to the project, though not publicly, on Kickstarter. It quickly became evident that Kickstarter wasn’t the best approach so I chose to just let it run its course. Thankfully, I have almost 60% of the project funded. It seems that once again, I’ve been surprised by the outpouring of encouragement and support from so many old and new collectors.