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.



Posting activity has declined recently because a day job is keeping me very busy. Here is a magical, ecstatic, alchemical painting by Leonora Carrington, another art hero.

Rose knight WIP

72dpi rose knight 12 7 15

Compare this to yesterday’s post.

Rose Knight (work in progress)

rose knight WIP 12 6 15

This is a painting I have been working on, tentatively called ‘rose knight.’ Rose knight was originally started while I was listening to sometimes sentimental and sometimes bombastic classical music (Strauss: Der Rosenkavalier). He is a fearful and dangerous bully who clutches weapons and other comforting items to himself while worrying about what the cone head people are saying about him – at least that is the story I was telling myself as I was painting it so far. Please create your own narrative.

The scan is a bit flat and dark. There are hints of green in the knight’s face. Still working on this one.



frame full

Christmas is coming and I NEED CASH to buy THINGS! So scoot on over to my online shop and pick up some art! “It’s Wizard Time” is now framed and for sale and that painting will look SWEET hanging over the fire place while you swill your eggnog and teach the children to fear Krampus.

Fixing ‘Diver’

Here is a painting currently on my workbench… a ‘work in progress’ but I am growing more interested in how it will turn out. I’m calling it ‘Diver’ for now – the name may change.

diver wip 12 2 15

When I sat down to paint this evening, I wasn’t very optimistic because the above painting looked like this:

stage 1

I don’t like it. Yeah, it’s supposed to be sort of an exaggerated self portrait – I was poking fun at the ‘portrait of the artist as a sensitive person’ and then there is that big old trepanation wound in my skull. Both in terms on content and execution – blech. About the only thing I liked was that little monkey skull sitting on my shoulder. How to rescue this mess?

I went in with white and black paint and began painting right on top of the thing (sorry, this is just a cell phone picture):

stage 2

I think the exposed brain made me think of the alien from “This Island Earth” (see below) but in the painting it morphed into some sort of Darth Vader gas mask type affair. The pathetic little hands reaching up, as if he can’t quite figure out what he is wearing are a nice touch. Finally painted over those awful eyeballs.


This Island Earth

stage 3

Orange inside the gas mask/respirator — I’ve had an idea. Hard to see in this picture but I’ve worked in some washed with a pale aqua into the face. About the only part that remains from the original is the ear (which, at this point, I have begun to quite like) and the exposed brain.

diver wip 12 2 15

The respirator has become a furnace grate! The diver must be a passionate man – he burns inside his suit! Of course it’s no where near finished… there is all that space in the background and I am still undecided about the exposed brain, but I’m a lot happier with it now than I was when I first sat down.