The Temptation of Saint Anthony (WIP)

I’ve been posting a lot of work-in-progress type things lately. I’ve managed to be really productive lately and am very much enjoying art production. One of the things I have managed to do recently is start on a homage to one of the paintings of one of my art heroes – the artist is Hieronymus Bosch and the painting is ‘The Temptation of Saint Anthony.’


There are a lot of things to like in Bosch’s painting. ‘The Temptation of Saint Anthony’ was a pretty popular subject back in the day and I’m not certain I understand all of the ways in which this saint being tempted was significant to people in Bosch’s time, but I always liked the image of St. Anthony sitting in his little hut in the wilderness while little monsters crawl around him.  I had been drawing some random things in my sketch book and found myself playing with the image of a tree stump:


I didn’t quite know where I was going with this, but it reminded me of the Bosch painting so I dug out a book about Bosch and had a closer look. After mulling it over for a bit, I started sketching out a plan for my painting on a panel:

pencil stage 1

My Saint Anthony looks a bit more nervous than Bosch’s. His tree-house is surrounded by some symbols of office life – the phone, filing cabinet and out-dated computer with big old CRT monitor and papers carpet the forest floor instead of leaves. A mermaid is surfacing in the water in the lower RH corner and one of the goblins from Bosch’s original has become a more menacing figure, peering over the little fence like a nasty co-worker peering over a cubicle wall. For reasons I don’t entirely understand, one of the tree roots has become a hand wearing a watch clutching at the ground.

raw umber stage 2

I thought that was a pretty good start so I started blocking in the painting with raw umber. I’m trying to be more disciplined in my painting than I have been in the past, and part of that is resisting the temptation to start working on some tiny detail that interests me instead of working on the whole painting in stages. Raw umber is one of my favorite paints for the early stages.

warm cool stage 3

One of my goals is to learn more about introducing a sense of space and atmosphere to my painting. A warm/cool underpainting will hopefully help pull Saint Anthony forward and push the trees of the forest back. The red is a bit overwhelming but I think I can fix that.

whitewash stage 4

Next step is to go in with white and start giving things more shape. Eventually I will start to work in ‘local colors’ like the brown of the monk’s robe, skin tones, etc.

One Comment on “The Temptation of Saint Anthony (WIP)”

  1. Smiler says:

    It looks great already, looking forward to seeing more. I’m enjoying the WIP posts btw, its interesting seeing the process and development.

Leave a Reply