8.10.07

St. Lucy


Matthew Alderman. St. Lucy of Syracuse. Ink on Vellum, September 2007. Click for larger image.

A small experiment in color I did to amuse myself late last month, this drawing shows St. Lucy with, rather than the usual eyeballs in a dish, her older traditional attribute of light (lux), sometimes shown as flame but here represented by a lantern with a small image of Christ incorporated into its metalwork. Her eventual martyrdom by a cut throat is indicated by the dagger, a less common attribute but not completely unknown, while the boiling oil she was subjected to at one point in her various trials is represented by the elaborate serpentine patterns of her martyr-red gown.

I have done a sizable number of new drawings (including my first international commission) since I last shared my work on the web; I hope to present more of my recent projects in the next few days and weeks.

16 comments:

Eric Orchard said...

Wonderful! I love the balance of complexity and simplicity. The dress is marvelous.

Love2Learn Mom said...

Beautiful!

theodore said...

Wow. just lovely! Can you share some of your process? do you work from models? photo reference? (that dress!!) how many times does it take you to nail the piece? When I work in pen and ink I tend to have to redo a drawing a few times. Thanks so much for sharing your work, I look forward to seeing more!

Jef Murray said...

Matthew,

Love the theme and much of the feel of the piece, but I'm disturbed by her stance. There's something that strikes me as not quire right between placement of her foot and the draping of the dress. The perspective seems off, like either her leg should be longer (with foot striking the tile closer to the bottom) or the dress shouldn't drape down as far. Other than this, all else is lovely!

WondrousPilgrim said...

this is magnificent and compelling! I love it.

I would suggest (for your consideration) making her eyes open. One of St. Lucy's symbols is her eyes--and I don't know how else to incorporate that symbol.

then again, if you open her eyes, the incredible feeling of peace, and surrender to God' will that you get from this image is partially lost.

Ben Hatke said...

Yes, please do share more of your recent work! I hope all the pieces are as compelling and well-rendered as this one.

Ben Hatke said...

Ah, looking again, I see what Jeff is commenting on and I agree. I think the rule of thumb for standing figures is that you drop an imaginary plumbline down from the crown of the head to the floor and that should give you the position of roughly the middle of the weight-baring foot.

mystical_rose84 said...

I second Theodores request for sharing about your process! Very nice work - look forward to seeing more!

Matthew said...

Regarding the shape of her dress, it does look tricky--except I was intending to show her dress trailing forward in space across the floor. I think it's more of the problem of representing depth than a height one, though I agree the foot might be better placed somewhere else in terms of weight.

The issue of eyes open/closed is a good one; I think the omission of the eyeballs is justified because I have seen images of her where she is only identified by the dagger or by fire (in this case, the lamp.) I did another drawing with her eyeballs in a dish, though, so in this case I wanted to do something slightly different.

As to process? I do have some bad habits but I'm starting to get a bit more systematic about it. I usually start off with freehand sketches and work from photographs or paintings--particularly to get the drapery right. I'd love to work with actual models (besides photos, that is--most of the faces in my work are modeled to some degree on someone I know), but unfortunately I haven't the resources yet. I then take my sketches and refine them by tracing the sketches I did lightly onto vellum and then refining that further, and then I ink those in. (I did a preparatory sketch for the dress's pattern that I traced; it's not totally foolproolf as there are still a few mistakes here and there.)

I would like to do drawings over several times, and I'd be able to catch details such as the foot, but usually I try to get it as refined as possible at the pencil stage and only ink it once. Now that I have a little more time on my hands I have wanted to go back and re-do a work to catch a few mistakes, though it usually ends up turning into a wholly new work of its own.

Matthew said...

Yeah, definitely the foot should be somewhere else--maybe moved a bit to the right. Though I'm not sure I'd lengthen the leg; the drape could look more perspectival to make up for it. Good tip, Ben!

Matthew said...

Let me also stress that while I do sometimes trace, I only trace sketches that I myself have done, freehand, with no assistance from photographs.

theodore said...

What did you use for the color? If you wanted too, is vellum forgiving enough that you could use a razor blade and scrape the foot out and redraw it?

Ben Hatke said...

Ha ha! Don't worry about tracing. I trace my own sketches all the time. When I've working with watercolor board, which is more expensive, I often do a skech and then use a light table to trace the major points onto the fancier paper.

Abigail said...

I'm always amazed by your rendering of drapery/pattern. Simply amazing!

Herreid said...

I like this one a lot!

Anonymous said...

i love this!!! I had to do a report on st. lucy and this was great artwork.
thanks