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Mark Battista’s Oil Painting on Gessobord

Figure 1

“The painting was inspired by a woman that was watching a procession in a small piazza in Italy. The title of the work is The Braid, Buccino, Italy by Mark Battista, oil on Ampersand Gessobord™.

I am usually inspired by a particular subject, light quality, shadow pattern or overall mood based on a life experience. When not able to work from life, I try to work from a combination of quick sketches, color studies and photographs.  I will often spend days creating quick thumbnail studies in order to work out the basic abstract underlying forms, value structure and elements of the design. All the detail in the world can not substitute for a well designed composition.

Once the design has been determined, I will sketch the drawing onto the Ampersand Gessobord. Sometimes the sketch is done with vine charcoal, working from large masses of shapes and slowly refined. Other times the sketch is done in pencil and generalized forms are slowly developed. A light series of cross hatched lines indicates shadows and planes of the face.

Figure 2

The sketch is fixed and then a very diluted wash of oil paint and turpentine is applied over the board. Occasionally, a rag is used to gently pat the surface if a less textured result is desired. The board is allowed to completely dry. (fig. 1)

Linseed oil is introduced gradually more and more into the linseed oil painting medium.  I begin painting in the large masses by establishing the major shadows, mid tone and light areas of the subject. Major value changes are adjusted and their relationship to each other is continually evaluated and adjusted. Often the background color will influence the skin tone and tonality in the clothing area. Many times the color of the background is brought into the color of the flesh, hair and clothing to help harmonize the colors. After the major forms of the face are established, I begin exploring the smaller planes of the face, taking care to observe the variation of edges and color changes within a form. (fig. 2)

Figure 3

The image is slowly built up with thicker layers of paint, less medium and more paint is used. Shadows are glazed down with more medium, while highlights are built up with thicker paint. The various layers which are cross hatched across the form begins to create a luminosity similar to that achieved in watercolor . Subtle changes in value and color are observed and recorded while allowing other areas of the painting to be less defined and more expressive. The work is allowed to dry completely  and a final varnish is applied. (fig. 3)”

Written by Mark Battista

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