01 June 2013

Drawing on St Jerome

After a long absence from the Friday lunchtime "talk and draw" sessions at the National Gallery, I was able to get to a "talk and create" session yesterday. The chosen image was Joachim Patinir's St Jerome in a Rocky Landscape (1515-24), which is only about 15" square - and includes two castles, a village, precarious steps, a monastery, a pilgrim, two camels, a couple of thieves (these relate to a story about St Jerome's lion), a distant prospect, a river, the sea, storm clouds - and rather a lot of rocks, fantastic rocks -
In the gallery's education centre studio, we were supplied with inks and masking fluid and brushes and paper and card, and after a short demo and being supplied with a rather dark photocopy of the source, we set to work -
I didn't find the glossy card very congenial, but did try to put down the lightest areas first and work towards building up the colour in layers. After about 40 (rather frustrating) minutes, it got this far -
Then it was time to lay out the work and have a look -
So many different results, some very adept and close to the original, others more idiosyncratic.

I didn't particularly enjoy doing this, but do have one or two ideas of how to would do it differently next time... It needs a whole afternoon (and a personal colour-mixing tray) rather than less than an hour. I would also have done well to spend some time looking the original picture first.

Another version of this painting is in the Prado; it's rather larger, 29"x35" -
You can see the lion intercepting the thieving merchants on the right, and another part of the lion's story, St Jerome (as a hermit) taking the thorn from his paw. 

The National Gallery has quite a few paintings of St Jerome - often he's shown in a red cardinal's hat (though of course he lived and died (342-420) before the church had cardinals and suchlike). Most recently, Michael Landy, as artist-in-residence, has made sculptures of saints, including Jerome -
more pix of Landy's sculptures are here

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