View Full Version : Bellini - Madonna and Child

Sarah Edgecumbe
05-03-2013, 10:10 PM
Hi guys,

Just starting a thread on my new project a painting by Bellini. This is for display at my Medieval/Renaissance event in July. (Abbey Medieval Festival in Brisbane). I just wanted something big and colourful to have in the camp.


I started with just doing some drawing copies as i am weak with drawing. So i was just playing around. If i could afford to go to a drawing school for 3 years i would, but i can't... Drawing with difficulty as the cat was sitting on all my work:


I started the painting with a drawing and raw umber. occasionally mixed with sienna as i had it on my palette...


Then i started doing a tonal underpainting (cause i like them) they give me time to establish tone and shape and i can use lots of cheep paint while i TRY and make it look right. Being very new at painting this takes ages...

excuse the scrubbed out eye.... still suck at eyes... worse at noses however lol


Then i started with thin colour:


I was still struggling with the poor tonal drawing of the front of the arm. But having done more work since this photo it is much improved. When i re-did the eye, i thought it looked in the right place. even transposed the image over it. It was looking good till i took a photo and looked at it. I think that i may be able to make some minor adjustments to make it read a little better. ??

As for the Madonna, i need to change the top lid on her right eye slightly.

I now have to start thinking about glazing in some skin tone into the picture. I would LOVE LOVE some advice on colours. At the moment the skin is glowing out of the painting (Which looks great) just a tiny bit pale. Any advice?

I know i haven't got it quite right, but hey, they is what practice is for, right! It is certainly MUCH better than the first one i did, so hoping the next one is even better. So even though there are errors, it is better than the last one. So improvement is great!

Will post the latest photo when my camera stopping being dump. I can't get images from last week off it!!!! grrr... The blue of the Madonna's robe is currently looking like blue jewels!! i am very happy with it. Wish i could show you all.

Anyway Happy painting everyone!


05-03-2013, 10:36 PM
Looks great!

Few of my tips I can offer.
I do think it needs to be overall darker in a lot of areas. Blue cloth and red background. Your prob working on that though. Sometimes camera flashes will make photos more bright as well. Ive had that problem many times lol.

If you feel weak at drawing I suggest you try the grid method if you havnt. I find it very useful. Takes time to setup and a pain to measure all out but worth it in the end. The proportions turn out great most the time when using this method. If you need help let me know if you ever choose the method. Setting up grid in paint program(photoshop,gimp,ect).
I noticed you have made a poster with sheets of paper on your wall. Have you tried using this program? Posterazor http://posterazor.sourceforge.net/
Ive made a few posters with it using tacky glue and tape. Turns out nice

Sarah Edgecumbe
05-03-2013, 11:20 PM
Hi Evan, Yup as you say the blue cloth and red background are now much deeper and the blue is just beautiful. I wish i could get these photos off the camera to show you. This was photographed after only with 1-2 layers. When i get the latest, i will post and perhaps you can see if they are dark enough.

I haven't see the Posterazor program. Thanks for showing it to me. looks interesting.

I actually managed a very accurate initial drawing on the board, it was just as i painted it it disappeared and i got carried away. a 2-3 mm migration of an eye makes such a difference! Next time i will be more careful. But thanks the grid method works well.

Patience Patience Patience..... Any advice for the skin colours? I have not started them yet and don't want to ruin them. Not that you can tell here.... but they look stunning atm, just too pale. I don't want to use too much though, as the original is not very bright skin.

Thanks Evan, I love your paintings :-)


05-05-2013, 07:04 AM
Nice once! (I loved your pear painting too!)
I have no advice for the skin tones, sorry. The blue clothing looks really good though. Curious to see the next steps!

Sarah Edgecumbe
05-05-2013, 05:21 PM
Hey all...

I manged to get early last week's photos off the camera!!! yah!!!!

Here it is as of early last week. The past couple of days are still being elusive.


Slowly working on it...

Nathalie Chavieve
05-06-2013, 04:03 PM
<I started with just doing some drawing copies as i am weak with drawing. So i was just playing around. If i could afford to go to a drawing school for 3 years i would, but i can't...>

In my opinion nowdays you can easily to learn to draw even without going to school. There is plenty of information on Internet and books availible from the stores and on-line shops. The question is if you really want it !

About the painting. It is a nice try , but I think you have to improve your drawing skills, by making smaller format detailed drawings. It will allows you to understand better forms, proportions, relations, shadows and much more other important things.

In this picture is so much light ! May be is better to take a pictures of the painting without flash ?

05-10-2013, 05:15 PM
very nice. you just have to learn to draw heads and hands from your mind. ask ianos dan how to do it, he knows well.

ianos dan
05-12-2013, 07:55 AM
Derek;Don't know exactly if l could be a teacher ,but what l know is that l've spent years and years with a pen or pencil in my hand ,drawing and drawing ,sometimes not going to school ,and dreaming about great masters.If l can help with something ,about drawing ,a will surely share some information ,but l was always thinking not to exaggerate with this ,some people are extremely sensitive about criticism,so it's better to give them hints ,not to destroy their dreams or intentions.
Sarah Edgecumbe; l know that you love the flemish method of painting,and it helps you very much in your improvement.it was a huge debate about techniques and methods of early and late renaissance epoque,so it's up to you if you are going to use it on every painting.
l am sure that Bellini used an underpainting,don't know his method ,but l am sure ,just looking at the original that he used somehow the whiteness of the panel ,just to give luminosity were possible .Because you have used a grisaille underpainting ,that deep blue of the drapery of Madonna ,became in your version ,a lighter color ,in some areas ,because of the optical effect ,even greenish.all that happens because of the underpainting.
Keep this in mind when you are painting :).
The old masters knew that the flesh needs different approach ,so l don't think they used same underpainting for all the objects .
Bellini brothers where deeply influenced by Flemish painters,therefore ,their techniques where somehow "borrowed",but also original.

Sarah Edgecumbe
05-12-2013, 06:27 PM
Thank you for your thoughts Ianos Dan, Yes you are right i DO love doing a mono-tone under painting:angel:

I guess at the moment i am trying to produce something that is as "well-painted" as i can, rather than an exact replica, so i am mostly, Ok with those differences. I will post an updated colour photo as soon as camera/computer connections are working again. It is slightly different in real life rather than on the screen.

Hopefully as i get more experienced i will vary my technique (as you so rightly suggest) to experiment with the process a bit more. to get a more faithful reproduction. How i wish for a time machine to go back and watch them paint for a few years. *sigh*

So Ianos dan, just to clarify your information, you think that the black/brown underpainting under the blue robe is mixing (optically) with the blue to turn it a little green. Is that right? That would make sense.

Any thoughts of deepening the folds with a colour rather than the blue? or should i continue with blue glazes in the folds to darken them. I am unsure. Any suggestions?

thanks for your input, it is much appreciated.


ianos dan
05-13-2013, 02:33 AM
Yes Sarah ,l'm talking about the optical influence of the underpainting on your color layers.
It's not a mistake to use in deep shadows black (with some blue),old masters used it .:)

05-14-2013, 04:18 AM
I often darken Ultramarine Blue with Burnt Umber (about 1:1 ratio ).
You'll get a really nice deep 'almost black' color that seems to work really well in shadows (and then you can use black for the super dark parts without losing contrast).

ianos dan
05-17-2013, 04:21 AM
Sarah : if i were you l will do the following:
Let the painting dry
For the face;because you have already a dead layer you need bright and rich color over (use opaque color for the highlights),l'll use pinkish hues in lights ,in shadows ,just use burnt umber and some burnt sienna,you need rich color there also.
For that drapery;i would use ultramarine blue +black ,and some burnt umber for deep shadows (burnt umber you can use at the end)>go all over the blue area.
Post the results ,l'll be very curious

Nathalie Chavieve
05-17-2013, 12:18 PM
If you go for the layering of a few colors one over the other, sometimes it is not necessary to mix colors at once . I did in my painting blue draperies, and I find that glazing over blue color can give a wonderful effect. Or mixing different blues can give also a beautiful colors. For painting "Madonna of the fields" ( you can find it in "Open critique center" ) I made a dead underlayer of the dress in greyish colors. The first color layer was made from Ultramarin blue deep and Flake white ( in some areas it was mix, in some areas was just pure Ultramarin. In the second layer I applyed mixture of Prussian blue, a bit of Ultramarin blue and Alizarin crimson for dark and areas in the folds.
For the painting "Madonna with child" I used also a greyish dead layer + Cobalt blue ( very little), for 1 color : mixture of Cobalt blue, Cerulean blue and Ivory black. In the 2 color layer I did glazing with Alizarin crimson.
For the another painting I workin on now, I used a mixture of Ultramarin and Cerulean blue.: it gives very beautiful deep blue.

Of course, not all colors mixing beautifully, but you can try and experiment.