Posts From May, 2009

Magritte's Blues 

Friday, May 22, 2009 7:50:46 AM


I'm going to return to Rene Magritte and his work for the rest of this month and until I've finished exploring other resources and materials.

Rene Magritte's brother Paul was a musician. He studied piano with E.L.T. Mesens. The Magritte brothers formed a partnership Studio Dongo in 1932 designing and illustrating sheet music and doing various advertisments.

Magritte; Chimeres 1925 (The ad design was used for the cover of Magritte's Blues)

Here (in the pdf below) are several musical advertising designs by Magritte:



Mona Lisa: Final Image 

Wednesday, May 20, 2009 12:43:49 PM


I got the final image of the Mona Lisa:

Mona Lisa: Driftwood Series C 2009 Richard Matteson

You can see that there's not that much blue as viewed in the images I took with my Canon camera. Here are two close-ups:

Close-up Face: Top

Close-Up Hands: Bottom

Train on an Island: Full View 

Thursday, May 7, 2009 1:01:22 PM

Train on an Island: Full View

Here's the full-view of my painting Train on an Island. Reproductions are now available. Just drop me an email if you are interested in this or any of my paintings:

On the right you can see Norman Edmonds with his fiddle- his fiddle bow is also the tree branch. Directly above the girl is J.P. Nestor playing the banjo.

Mona Lisa: Final Painting 

Tuesday, May 5, 2009 12:37:28 PM

Driftwood Series: Mona Lisa- Final Painting

Mona Lisa- Richard Matteson; C 2009

Here's the final painting. I took some of the blue out but in the camera shot it's still there. When you look at the painting by eye the blue is barely visible...strange. The total time it took was around 12 hours. The result- mixed. I was happy that I created a fitting tribute to Leonardo's masterpiece. I'll try and get a good image of the painting- my photography skills are limited. I know the blue will be barely visible.

The original idea was that a slab of driftwood grain could look like the Mona Lisa- crazy I know. I could have done it different ways. You can look back through the steps I took to get the result I did in the last five blogs.

Things I like about my painting are:

1) I created a setting similar to Leonardo's original painting which had "loggia" (columns on each side that bordered the portrait). You can still see the columns that form an arch over Mona Lisa's head, I also included more of the bottom.

2) She's sitting in a chair which can clearly be seen.

3) Her hands and face, even though obscured slightly are still powerful parts of the picture. The eyes and the smile are effective.

4) The yellowish orange contrasts with the blue underpainting.

5) Changing her into driftwood makes her seem like she's staring through a barbed-wire fence, a prisoner caught in time. It's striking and effective, even though I'd like to take the painting further I'd lose most of the underpainting which is more important than detailing the wood grain further.

6) The painting fits the color and texture of old tobacco frame made by my friend Chris Hoke.

Comments are welcome!


Mona Lisa: A work in progress DAY 5 

Tuesday, May 5, 2009 9:24:32 AM

Mona Lisa: A work in progress DAY 5

Close-up driftwood color added

So I've added on coat of yellow with a tint of red (sort of orange). I also added some shadow to the wood grain in several places. You can still see the underpainting somewhat and the blue contrasts nicely with the coat of yellow with a tint of red. 

As with any painting there's a point where you have to stop and I think I'm about there. Any significant overpainting will obliterate the underpainting. I've achieve a a bizarre but interesting likeness. You can still see the enigmatic smile. The lake (on the left) and the bridge (on the right) in the background can still be recognized.

I certainly didn't want to try and compete with Leonardo. I'm not sure if I transformed the Mona Lisa into a slab of driftwood.

Close-up driftwood color added- Full size

Even though I painted over it, there a bit too much blue in to bottom right shadow. Every thing else seems to fit OK. Here's the painting with it's 100 year old frame made out of an old tobacco barn. The frame was made by Chris Hoke.

I'm going to touch up the bottom right side and get some of the blue out, then sign it. You can't see it but with the eye but with camera shot it is a little too much blue. I also drew in grains of wood in the lower corner but they can't be seen with the camera shot.


Mona Lisa: A work in progress DAY 4 

Monday, May 4, 2009 9:52:49 AM

Mona Lisa: A work in progress DAY 4

Here's the finished underpainting. There's not alot of detail or subtle shading like the original; there a bit too much light on her nose but there's not need for fixing those details since she will be changing into a slab of driftwood soon.

Close-up head shoulders Final Underpainting

Final Underpainting

1st Step Wood Grain: Close-up

1st Step Wood Grain Full view

Some of the black wood grain can't be seen in the shadowy lower section of the painting. I either need to reverse grain (using a ligher black or gray color) or just paint the black darker so I can see it better. It took about 2 hours to paint the grain. Total time about 8 hours so far. Who said painting the Mona Lisa would be easy!

Now I have to paint the wood color over the painting so the underpainting still can be seen to some extent. Will it work? The other challenge is finding a color that blends with the frame which is 100 year old tobacco barn wood and doesn't blend with the colors in the painting. It looks like the color will need to be a yellow maybe with a touch of red. I may have to stain the frame slightly to match the final color. You can see the original color of the driftwood slab below.


Mona Lisa: A work in progress DAY 3 

Friday, May 1, 2009 3:24:11 PM

Mona Lisa: A work in progress DAY 3


I've thought about what I'm going to do and worked on the painting about 1 1/2 hours more. Here's where I am:

In the last hour I finished roughing in the hair and have roughed in her robe. I've changed the color slightly to an off-blue. Her hair is dark with a red-tint. I'm not adding the veil near the top of her head- it's not important. The background looks OK, I fixed and shaded the loggia (pillars on each side) and I added some varnish (since this is acrylic- it's gloss medium) to the bottom part and to Mona Lisa. Because this will be covered up in part I'm not sure if the details will matter or how much you'll be able to see.

I've decided the only way I can transform her into a close-up of a driftwood slab is to add the overlaying lines and use a thin coat of tinted varnish. Will it work? I dunno... Here's another full length shot of where I am now. Total time so far- about 6 hours.

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