View Full Version : WIP Mona Lisa in Homage to Leonardo da Vinci

A Few Pigments
06-08-2005, 03:06 AM
Portrait of Mona Lisa (1479-1528), also known as La Gioconda, the wife of Francesco del Giocondo; 1503-06, Oil on wood, 77 x 53 cm (30 x 20 7/8 in); Musee du Louvre, Paris


This is my start. Charcoal on gessoed mat board, 77 x 53 cm.


Iíve read that da Vinci started the Mona Lisa in 1503 and finished it four or five years later. The ARC site lists the time painting the Mona Lisa as from 1503 to 1505. Another web site said da Vinci spent ten years painting her lips.

Most of the digital images of the Mona Lisa on the web are not very big and not very good. I posted links below to the two sites with the best digital images Iíve found.

The best digital image Iíve found on the web is this one. It is 800 x 1184 pixels and the colours seem reasonably good. http://www.wga.hu/art/l/leonardo/04/1monali.jpg

The other digital images I found that are helpful are on page one of the da Vinci paintings at ARC http://www.artrenewal.org/asp/database/art.asp?aid=186#

This is one of the most comprehensive, may be the most comprehensive site about the Mona Lisa and da Vinci.
The Mona Lisa on the Web http://www.isidore-of-seville.com/monalisa/

Twenty one photos of the Villa Vignamaggio, birthplace of Mona Lisa, Greve in Chianti, Italy. http://www.lodgephoto.com/galleries/italy-tuscany/chianti/vignamaggio/

Explore Leonardo's studio http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/leonardo/studio/

06-08-2005, 03:23 AM
Hi Bruce....I heard he took six years to paint the lips.... :D ....will be watching with interest as she is a favourite of mine....I think you will do a good job....in a fraction of the time....... :D ..the drawing looks good....
cheers kim

06-08-2005, 04:27 AM
Yay!!!! hooray!!!

go for it, Bruce!! :clap:

There's nothing like tackling a "biggie" :cool: :cool: :cool:


06-08-2005, 12:11 PM
Bruce - You are off to a good start! I really respect your jumping in there and trying this one! I am going to enjoy watching as you work on this one! Good going! :clap: :clap: :clap:

Barb Solomon :cat:

A Few Pigments
06-08-2005, 04:39 PM
Hi Barb, thank you for your encouragement. Iíll try to do the best job I can on this, but I donít hold out much hope for it. I like the colours thoughÖlol

Dave, It might be a bit presumptuous of me, but Iím going to take the liberty of assuming from your comments that you approve of my current project. Jolly good. Iím rather looking forward to getting to work on the old girl. Although Iím a bit disheartened by the knowledge Iím copying the work of the second best the renaissance has to offer. Still, one must push on. Cheers.

Hi Kim, thank you for your encouragement. I donít know how fast Iíll be able to paint this. The Storm still isnít done and I started that 9 or 10 months ago. Iím really just doing this as a lark to get more brush mileage. At least with this mileage Iím sure I wonít run out of oilÖhahaha.

06-08-2005, 04:53 PM
Dave, It might be a bit presumptuous of me, but Iím going to take the liberty of assuming from your comments that you approve of my current project. Jolly good. Iím rather looking forward to getting to work on the old girl. Although Iím a bit disheartened by the knowledge Iím copying the work of the second best the renaissance has to offer. Still, one must push on. Cheers.

Yes, certainly - I thoroughly approve!

06-08-2005, 10:00 PM
Couldn't resist your invitation to your WIP, Bruce. Looking forward to seeing this develop.

06-08-2005, 11:57 PM
wow, I feel like I am in the oil forum.....hey everyone! Bruce, you AMAZE me! You're leading the Monet this month AND doing Mona!?????????????? Two totally different mind sets & techniques!!!!!!!
Terrific start.....:)

A Few Pigments
06-09-2005, 02:05 AM
Hi Cathleen, nice to see you here. Itís because Monet and da Vinci worked so differently that Iím glad Iím doing these at the same time. I feel Iím learning a lot more this way. I wonder what the Mona Lisa would look like in Monets style? Wouldnít that be wild!

Hi Zoe, nice to see you. It could be a week before I post the verdaccio. I was working on it tonight. Iím working on eight oil paintings, four pastels and one acrylic painting. That should keep me busy for awhile.

Originally posted by dcorc
Yes, certainly - I thoroughly approve!
Hi Dave nice to see you and ta mate.

06-09-2005, 02:35 AM
Iím working on eight oil paintings, four pastels and one acrylic painting. That should keep me busy for awhile.

Wow...Bruce ...what do you do in your spare time????? :D
cheers kim

06-09-2005, 01:51 PM
Bruce, I'll be cheering you on with this one.


A Few Pigments
06-09-2005, 04:44 PM
Oi, me old china plate! How was your show Mikey? I hope you sold a lot. I decided to do a verdaccio for this one and then start a proper canvas, do another verdaccio and glaze the colours on. And you know how fast I work so this could take yearsÖ.lol

Hi Kim, In my spare time I work to bring peace to the world for the benefit of all mankind. But seriously, Iím sure youíre very busy as well. You have your family and your mural and Iím sure other bits and bobs as well. Most people are rather busy with life the way it is today. Iím no different than anyone else. Although, I do have a title now. Iím Baron of TalentÖLOLÖI love that one, itís a play on words and it always makes me laugh.

06-09-2005, 05:00 PM
Hey Bruce, I guess this is one to really enjoy doing if it's going to take a long time. It'll be a useful thing to do though.

I sold one painting and got my money back for the show expenses. The comments in the visitors book were more than I could possibly have hoped for. But what can I believe? One guy says the best show he's seen in that gallery. Another says my work is better than anything in The Rugby Collection in the main gallery. Oh really!!!!!!! Better than our Stanley from Cookham, well I don't think so. Anyhow it was what the people liked.


A Few Pigments
06-10-2005, 02:15 AM
Originally posted by Mikey
The comments in the visitors book were more than I could possibly have hoped for. But what can I believe?
The only thing to believe is to believe in yourself. Congrads on your sale. Now that youíve made a sale youíll make more sales by word of mouth.

Anita Murphy
06-10-2005, 06:27 AM
Bruce - you are a brave, brave man taking this one on!
I'll be cheering you on from the side lines! (I'm the one with the pom-poms!)
Iím working on eight oil paintings, four pastels and one acrylic painting
Now that is dedication! I wish I could get myself to work on more than one thing at a time!

A Few Pigments
06-10-2005, 09:30 AM
Hi Anita, nice to see you. Iím not brave, Iím just trying to learn how to paint. Never be afraid to copy any painting. You can learn everything they did.

Iíve been thinking of copying the frescos on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, but they cover 6,000 square feet and I couldnít fit a canvas that big into my house.

06-10-2005, 03:59 PM
Bruce - well done for tackling this !!! I'll be following with interest.

A Few Pigments
06-10-2005, 07:56 PM
Hi Lorraine, good to see you. Iíll post the verdaccio as soon as I can get the face finished.

06-11-2005, 07:15 AM
Iíve been thinking of copying the frescos on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, but they cover 6,000 square feet and I couldnít fit a canvas that big into my house.
LOL ...Bruce I'm sure you will find a way..... :D
cheers kim

Anita Murphy
06-11-2005, 08:51 PM
LOL Bruce! If you could always paint your ceiling?????????????????????

A Few Pigments
06-11-2005, 09:00 PM
Hi Anita, well, if I did paint my ceiling Iíd be reaching new heights..hahaha. :clap:

06-12-2005, 05:47 PM
Hi Bruce, thanks for doing Lisa as a WIP! :) Nickel

A Few Pigments
06-21-2005, 12:02 AM
Hi Nickel, after you see how I paint you might wish I hadnít posted a wip. Although, it should be good for a few laughs. :)

I got bored working with the verdaccio colour so I decided to add burnt sienna to it and do the first painting as a monochromatic study, but with a warmer hue. Then I got bored with the monochromatic study so I decided to do this first painting the way the Mona Lisa looks now. Iíve started adding ultramarine blue to the background.

I was thinking, since it took 6 to 10 years for da Vinci to paint Mona Lisaís lips, then why should I be embarrassed if it takes me a year or two to get this painting right. I think thereís a lot to be said for the slow pace the old masters worked at. A lot of them put themselves through hell for their art, but at least they took the time to enjoy itÖroflmao!


06-21-2005, 12:46 AM
Ah ha Bruce I was wondering when you would post next......I think the good thing about copying the masters is that you have your own artistic licence to produce what you see.....I think your approach will work....with mona....theres nothing worse than getting bored with the process...and this is looking good.....
cheers kim

Anita Murphy
06-21-2005, 06:08 AM
Ah ha Bruce I was wondering when you would post next

So was I! This is coming on!
A lot of them put themselves through hell for their art, but at least they took the time to enjoy itÖroflmao!
Do you think they did? I have to admit to finding it an exquisite agony producing art. Bordering on masochism!

06-21-2005, 11:53 AM
Bruce, your Lisa is starting to show her Character! This is a good thing! Nickel

06-21-2005, 11:55 AM
Bordering on masochism!

well i buy painting causes me pain, hey, pain is paint minus t , haha how funny :)

A Few Pigments
06-21-2005, 02:11 PM
Hi Nickel, yep Lisa has lots of character, I have very little talent, not a good combination for success.

Hi Anita, I think if I felt creating art bordered on masochism Iíd take up gardening.

Hi Kim, I get bored easily so I never know where Iíll post next either. The only thing anyone can count on with me is that my art is always bad.

06-22-2005, 12:00 AM
Bruce - You are really doing a good job!The biggest problem that I can see is that there are some hard, crisp edges where the should be blended and blurred. I suspect getting the edges right is part of what took Leonardo so long. Keep up the good work! Your doing a great job!

Barb Solomon :cat:

06-22-2005, 12:46 AM
Looks good from here, Bruce! Just keep going! I believe the soft sfumato edges are partly blending within a layer, and partly due to buildup of numerous very thin scumble/glaze/velatura layers.


A Few Pigments
06-22-2005, 01:07 AM
Dave, Iím sure youíre right about the ďbuildup of numerous very thin scumble/glaze/velatura layersĒ, but Iím just using paint straight from the tube with no medium on this one. Well, I did at first use some Liquin for the sky. Iíll do the verdaccio next. I thought a velatura was an opera singer with a soft voice. What is a ďvelaturaĒ?

Barb Iím still very much just blocking in and trying to get the location of things established at this point. Itís really a shame the original has so many layers of varnish on it and itís been retouched several times over the years. So, thereís no way to know what it really looked like originally.

06-22-2005, 06:40 PM
Dave, Bruce - Thanks for explaning some of Leonardoís technique! The number of layers must have been part of the reason that it took him a long time to paint!

Bruce- Keep up the good work! :cool: :cool:

Barb Solomon :cat:

A Few Pigments
06-23-2005, 03:17 AM
Hi barb, I think the real reason da Vinci spent so long on the Mona Lisa is because he was in love with her. Da Vinci never let the painting leave his side, even though it had been paid for by Lisaís husband in full. From what Iíve read da Vinci kept it in his bedroom after he became the court artist of the King of France, and it was one of the last things he saw before he died. The more research I do on this the more convinced I become that Lisa may have been the only woman da Vinci really ever loved. I know that da Vinci was gay, but that doesnít completely rule out being attracted to a woman.

Then again may be he was just in love with the painting, but what if he really was in love with Lisa? What if he spent the last years of his life pining away for the love of his life, knowing he could never have her for himself? May be her smile is just a play on words on her name as some experts believe. But what if her smile is the smile da Vinci wished she had had for him? Is that the reason da Vinci spent 6 to 10 years painting her smile? Iím sure he didnít spend that long on it because he was really bad at painting smiles.

May be the reason he spent so long painting her smile, getting it just right, was that that was the only way he could feel her love being returned. Her smile said she knew their secret, and she loved him as much as he loved her.

Then again, may be Iíve just been looking at this painting for too long and may be Iíve been thinking too much about all the things Iíve read about it and my imagination is running away with me. But wouldnít it be wild if it was true.

06-23-2005, 04:03 AM
Bruce, I can relate to what you are saying here. But the question is, why fall in love with an unattainable woman? Then again we all know the agony of having to let go of paintings. It seems that Leonardo didn't paint that many and the Mona Lisa was exceptional and indeed unique in it's own time. I can understand him not wanting to let go of it. I'd be inclined to paint another one, but suppose creativity doesn't always allow for that. Isn't there a woman in NY who claims to have the second Mona Lisa, but it is disputed.


A Few Pigments
06-23-2005, 02:31 PM
Mikey itís just an idea I had. Iím sure Iím wrong. Iíve probably just watched Shakespeare in Love too many times.

Iíve heard about 2 other copies of the Mona Lisa, but from what Iíve learned da Vinci only painted one.

06-23-2005, 02:44 PM
Bruce, I think these things which only seem like passing thoughts are often absolutely right.


Anita Murphy
06-26-2005, 07:12 AM
Hi Anita, I think if I felt creating art bordered on masochism Iíd take up gardening.

Bruce - this is hilarious - my job of choice would be gardening!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Looking forward to update on this.

A Few Pigments
06-26-2005, 03:53 PM
Hi Anita, itís funny you like gardening, Iíve thought for a long time if I didnít paint Iíd like to have a show like Alan Tichmarsh has. Although if I had a show like Ground Force I wouldnít leave it. I have every episode of Ground Force on tape.

Hi Mikey, yes, my passing thoughts could be right. They could be wrong tooÖ.lol

Anita Murphy
06-27-2005, 10:26 AM
Now I get the Charlie Dimmock reference in your other thread!!!!!!!! I'll audition for Charlie's job in your Ground Force!

A Few Pigments
06-27-2005, 10:33 PM
Hi Anita, what a nice thing to say, thank you. But I think we need the BBC to give us a half-hour time slot first. Monet was lucky. He used the money from his paintings to have a garden built and than painted his garden.

A Few Pigments
07-01-2005, 10:34 PM
Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind:
And therefore is wingíd cupid painted blind.

Iím still blocking things in. I was thinking I have to paint the effect of heaven only knows how many layers of varnish and heaven only knows how many repaints to paint this painting. Iím glad I never take on the difficult ones.


07-01-2005, 11:54 PM
Bruce - Your background is really starting to take shape! Keep up the good work!

Barb Solomon :cat:

07-02-2005, 06:46 AM
Iím glad I never take on the difficult ones
Hi Bruce...lol....looking good......
ps loved the Twiggy page....she used to be my idol....... :D ..especially the eyelashes.... :D
cheers kim

07-06-2005, 02:11 PM
Bruce....loved the story on DaVinci & possible love interest...cool to think about their lives. You have a great start here & I am enjoying your comments...that you get bored & go on to change your plan. Sounds a lot like what I do...:)

A Few Pigments
07-08-2005, 12:21 AM
Hi Cathleen. I change my mind so often I couldnít keep up if I didnít wear Nikes.

Hi Kim, I always liked Twiggyís eyelashes too.

Thankx Barb. Iíll keep up the good work.

I have just about everything blocked in, and Iím tired of playing with blocks. Next comes the exciting part where I pretend Iím an artist and I make this look like the original. SureÖ!


07-08-2005, 06:08 AM
Hi Bruce ...looking good.....that mouth looks pretty spot on....you have that smile just right....the tricky thing I find is....when you put more paint on.... the original likeness and sketch somehow manages to disappear....and I'd really like to know where they go to... :D wouldn't it be ironic if you got the lips perfect...straight away.... :evil: (instead of Leonardo's 6 years ...wasn't it???....)
cheers kim

07-08-2005, 07:47 AM
Great going Bruce, although I thibnk the eye are rather to large and closely set at this stage. Maybe you like that.


A Few Pigments
07-08-2005, 01:18 PM
Hi Kim, Iíve found when the original likeness and sketch disappear itís usually because I canít draw very well. One trick Iíve found that works for me, is to put my painting next to my monitor and look from the original on my monitor to my painting, until I see where everything goes, and then make one stroke on my painting, to mark where an eye, or the end of the nose, or an ear, actually goes. The only problem is thatís such a time consuming way to work I usually donít bother with it. :eek: :)

Hi Mikey, Iíve always said thereís nothing more beautiful than a woman with big, close set eyesÖroflÖIím just taking the mickÖIíve been up all night and Iím more bonkers than I usually am. I hurried with the blocking in so this is very rough. I know itís going to take me months to finish this one. Iím thinking of doing this in thick paint though with bigger brushes than I usually use and that might help me to finish it faster.

07-09-2005, 02:12 AM
Iíve always said thereís nothing more beautiful than a woman with big, close set eyesÖroflÖ
Hi Bruce...and I thought they were going to be Twiggy's eyes....and I was just waiting for those eyelashes...but Mikey commented before me...... :eek:
cheers kim

A Few Pigments
07-22-2005, 06:36 PM
Iíve been trying to finish Lisaís face before I ruin - I mean finish, the rest of the painting. This really does look better in person then it does here.


07-22-2005, 07:53 PM
Bruce - I am really impressed with how well you are doing! Her face looks great!

Getting the soft edges, the way that Leonardo does, is traditionally one of those tricks that Leonardo could accomplish.

Keep up the excellent work!

Barb Solomon :cat:

A Few Pigments
07-22-2005, 08:08 PM
Hi Barb, thankx for your comments. Iím a little confused. Are you saying Iím getting the soft edges as Leo did, or are you saying Iím not getting the soft edges as Leo did? I still have lots of work to do on the face and my cheap scanner burns out the more subtle values.

07-22-2005, 08:32 PM
Looks to me, Bruce, like you're doing well.

What is a ďvelaturaĒ?

It's just a term for a translucent layer, which has some partial opacity - veil-like.

Which white are you using? Can I make a technical suggestion - if you are using titanium white, try something a bit less opaque for this painting - a flake, or flake-suibstitute (if you prefer not to handle lead) - or get a tube of zinc white and do a mixture with your titanium - and "restate" - the face particularly - in several thin layers - I think you will find the "averaging" effect of the translucent overlay goes a long way to giving you that sfumato appearance :)


A Few Pigments
07-22-2005, 09:02 PM
Hi Dave,
I started with flake white then changed my mind and decided to do this in opaque paint. Iím using Georgian T white which is half T white and half Z white. I do have zinc white, but it would be too transparent for what Iím trying to do. I discover with the portrait below I can get the same subtle shading/gradations by using my fingers to blend the paint. I read after I finished the portrait below that Velazquez did the same thing and months ago I read one of Leoís students said Leo painted more with his fingers then he did with his brushes.

Do you remember this portrait http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?p=3530992#post3530992 I did this in opaque layers. I discovered with this portrait if I blended the paint with my finders I could get the look I wanted. Iím doing the same thing with Leoís portrait, more or less. If I can make the paint application for Leoís painting look as good as I did for this portrait, Iíll be happy.

07-22-2005, 09:11 PM
OK - 50/50 T/Z sounds good - as does the process you're describing - very useful info for those reading along.

I remember the portrait well, and very nice it is too - well worth a look!


07-22-2005, 10:18 PM
Bruce - some of the soft edges are well done and some are a bit hard. I'm sure that they will look fine as you go along! You did well with her "eyebrows".

Barb Solomon :cat:

07-23-2005, 05:26 AM
Hi Bruce....she's taking shape....the underpainting looks good....best of patience with the next stage...
:wave: ...kim

07-23-2005, 09:06 AM
Bruce, I'm here watching and yes, learning.
At this stage, I think Mona is looking quite good already.

Anita Murphy
07-23-2005, 05:00 PM
Bruce - its obviously the Mona Lisa, so in my book you won the battle already! Bruce, I'm here watching and yes, learning.

Isn't Flake White - half way between zinc and titanium?

A Few Pigments
07-23-2005, 07:54 PM
Anita, thank you. A battle? Iím working on a pastel now thatís much more of a battle then this little portrait. I must tell you something. This is the easiest painting Iíve ever done. I used a grid but everything just falls into place like a simple jigsaw. The face is the only difficult part. The worst that can happen is that Iíll end up with a much better painting than I thought I would. And what if Iím not doing any glazing. Glazing isnít the be all and end all of painting. The commercial manufacture of paint changed glazing forever.

In regard to titanium and flake white, this is from The Oil Colour Book from Winsor & Newtons web site. http://www.winsornewton.com/ Even if you donít use W&N paint itís a good book to have and itís free.

Cremnitz White. Pure lead white, ground in safflower oil, as prefered by
some artistsí using traditional techniques.

Flake White. Basic lead carbonate, with a small addition of zinc, which
improves its colour and consistency. Flake White No. 1 is formulated to a
thicker consistency than Flake White No. 2.

Foundation White. Flake White ground in linseed oil for extensive
underpainting or modelling.

Iridescent White. A mica-based pigment available in Artistsí Oil Colour for
pearlescent white effects. It is lightfast, and can be intermixed.

Soft Mixing White. Available in Winton. Made from Titanium pigment.
A soft consistency, excellent for strong tints and avoiding chalkiness.

Titanium White. The most opaque, highest tinting white. First made in 1870,
introduced as an artistsí colour in the 1920ís. Now the most popular white.

Zinc White. The most transparent white with the lowest tinting strength.
First made in the 18th century, entered common usage by the 1840ís.

Pars, thank you, Iím glad youíre watching. Iím not sure if thereís really anything to learn here except may be one thing. Anytime you see any painting you want to try to copy just jump in with palette and brushes and have a go. So many people are so intimidated by the artist or the period or the method. No matter who painted what or when itís only paint, and if they could do it we can too, by golly.

Kim, thank you, but I changed my mind and I didnít really do an underpainting for this. Itís just my usual, ďtrowel the paint on and hope for the bestĒ approach.

Barb the eyebrows are a point of contention for me. I canít for the life of me imagine in a million years why anyone would think women look better with their eyebrows shaved off. Iím very tempted to paint proper eyebrows on Lisa, but that would ruin da Vinciís painting. So, I wonít, but Iím tempted.

07-24-2005, 05:49 AM
Iím very tempted to paint proper eyebrows on Lisa,
LOL Bruce...I think if you paint in eyebrows then the Twiggy eyelashes are a sure bet...... :D
Itís just my usual, ďtrowel the paint on and hope for the bestĒ approach.
well it's working...and I too find that approach the only approach sometimes..:evil:
thanks for the great info on whites......I'm not usually too technical with these things but have saved to read through when I do my next oil...probably save me a lot of time and trouble..... :rolleyes:
:wave: ..kim

07-24-2005, 06:09 AM
Hi Bruce, it's great to see you bringing this to completion. I use Titanium and Cremitz Whites. The Cremnitz is warmer as well as tending to be transparent and so good for portraits. I have to use Zinc and Titanium with acrylics. Since I paint with layers the Titanium is useful for local colour mixes. I agree that glazing is not necessary these days, although it can be useful for shadows in garments. I do sometimes use transparent paint wet in wet over opaque.


A Few Pigments
07-24-2005, 08:27 PM
Hi Mikey, itís still months from completion. The Cremitz W&N sells is pure lead with safflower oil. Is the Cremitz white you use pure lead or does it have zinc mixed in? This glazing thing is a bit of a bugger isnít it. Thereís so much of a difference betwixt paint now and paint then. It changes the whole equation in regard to glazing. The only way to glaze like the old masters is to mull your own paint, making sure the relative hardness of the individual pigments is respected. And if I really wanted to be true to da Vinciís methods Iíd have to use walnut oil. Iíll just trowel the paint on and hope for the best. Then too thereís always the question of does anyone really want to use oil paint as if it was watercolour paint. Lord save me from the plethora of answers lol.

Hi Kim, Iíd strongly urge you to learn everything you can about paint. Even the boring bits. Itís not nessary to make money, but it really can save a lot of time. Thereís this wonderful series from the BBC called Oil On Canvas. Only six episodes were made. In the episode on Colour an artist from Scotland is profiled. One scene shows her working in her studio. Thereís a huge pile of paint tubes on the floor next to her easel and sheís looking for a particular tube. She looks at the camera and says ďI donít know much about paint, but I know what I likeĒ. Her paintings start at 15,000 pounds. Thatís for a 4 x 5 foot painting on linen. Iím still in shock when I think about that. I have this old fashion idea that if a person is going to call themselves a professional at something then they should learn everything they can about their profession. I suppose that will make me unpopular with some people, but such is life. May be Iím just out of touch with the way things are done today.

A Few Pigments
07-24-2005, 10:21 PM
Mikey and Kim here's another thread on white with some good info http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=284062

07-25-2005, 04:01 AM
Ha ha Bruce...when I retire from my "real day job"...( in 4 years time...and who's counting????...not me..... :D :D).....I might go back to art school and re learn every thing (that I chose not to learn) in the 5 very long years....(that I was at art school)..but meanwhile I'm happy experimenting with whatever is at hand to get the painting done..... :evil: ...oh dear I do sound like a rebellious school child......or alternately...I could go and get a job at an art school and simply tell the students to go with the flow...and experiment like crazy...... :evil: ...to sum up...I believe the only way I'll learn is by making those mistakes myself...(sometimes far too expensive)...but hey Bruce that's what I've got the day job for...... :wink2: )...BTW...thanks heaps for the link to the info on white....will definitely read....when I get this mural finished...and my Dobell entry off at the end of the week......I know this may sound contrary.....but I've learnt heaps more here at WC..than I ever did at art school.......(maybe because I want to)...does that make sense...... :confused:
:wave: ..kim

I suppose that will make me unpopular with some people, but such is life. May be Iím just out of touch with the way things are done today.
I don't think so Bruce.......but everyone does their own thing and sometimes...(like me)...they do it backwards...... :p...or maybe it's because I'm blonde....and Twiggy was my idol..... :rolleyes:

A Few Pigments
07-25-2005, 12:11 PM
Kim, I can see I offended you and Iím sorry. I was just trying to give you some advice from my own experience. Most of what I know I learned outside of art school. Gaining knowledge from experimenting is a very good way to learn. Iím afraid I donít know how to be diplomatic. Itís a good job Iím not a guide. By rights I should be an accountant.

07-25-2005, 06:38 PM
Hi Bruce....absolutely no offence taken....I think you would be an excellent guide......I think it's just the way we all decipher the written word...

A Few Pigments
07-26-2005, 01:45 AM
Thankx Kim. :)

A Few Pigments
08-09-2005, 12:34 AM
I got this far and then took out the book below from which Iíve provided pix of its reproduction of the Mona Lisa.


These little scans donít show all of the detail that is missing from all the other reproductions Iíve seen. You really have to see the reproductions in the book to understand how good they are. These reproductions are in the book LEONARDO DA VINCI The Complete Paintings, by Pietro C. Marani. Hardcover: ISBN 0-8109-3581-3. Cloth cover: ISBN 0-8109-2723-3. I should tell you the hardcover is $80.00, but itís worth it just for the large, full colour reproductions and detail reproductions of all of da Vinciís paintings.



This is her left eye. That would be the right eye to the viewer.



So, Iím going to start using the reproductions from this book as reference instead of the reproduction Iíve been using, which I found months ago on the web.

08-09-2005, 01:59 AM
Hi Bruce....coming along....nicely ...Bruce....great copies to use...for reference....

08-09-2005, 02:51 PM
Bruce - If you liked that book, you probably would also like "Leonardo da Vinci - Origins of a Genius" by David Allen Brown. It goes into Leonardo's early paintings and discusses some of the artists that he was influenced by and who he "imitated" and re interpretated.

I liked the Marani book so much that I bought myself a couple. I kept taking it out of the library again and again!

Your copy is looking pretty good! :cool: :cool: :cool:

Barb Solomon :cat:

A Few Pigments
08-09-2005, 11:41 PM
Hi Barb, I didnít know da Vinci reinterpreted anyoneís work. Who did he reinterpret?

Hi Kim, yes they are good copies and Iíll have to work from the copies because thereís no way I can afford to spend $80.00 for a book right now. I can barely afford to pay the chauffeur.

This is a side by side of the first copy I was using (on the left)and the new copy Iíll be using. The face in the new copy looks fuller.


08-10-2005, 06:29 AM
I can barely afford to pay the chauffeur.
LOL...Bruce.......I know how you feel........ :evil: ....Wow what a difference in reproduction.......it must be ......gratifying to work with the superior copy.....surely this will cut your time by half........ :D

A Few Pigments
08-10-2005, 07:07 AM
Kim I donít care how long this takes me to paint anymore. Itís become a mystical experience for me. This painting transcends time and space and even da Vinci. When I was very young I discovered I was born just 500 years and one day after da Vinci. That always seemed important to me. With my luck all it probably means is I missed being a great artist by one dayÖlol

I think Iíll try painting this one next. Soon maybe.
1879, Rossetti, The Lady of the Window, 39.76 x 29.25 inches


I seem to see the Mona Lisa everywhere I look anymore, but donít these two look a lot alike.


08-10-2005, 08:56 AM
Eek...eek....Bruce.......fancy...that......500 years and one day........that's uncanny....maybe Da Vinci is using you as his medium......
this portrait is fabulous.......so similiar in pose and they look as if they are thinking the same thoughts......but the lady of the window looks sadder....to me......I think this one is right up your alley......
...kim.... :wave:

08-10-2005, 03:14 PM


:evil: :wave:

Seperated at birth? :clap:

A Few Pigments
08-10-2005, 04:18 PM
Kathleen that isnít Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen from Changing Rooms is it? Scary thought that. I saw an episode of Changing Rooms last night with Laurence as the presenter.

Kim she looks sad because sheís not Rossettiís beloved Lizzie. Elizabeth Eleanor Siddal was his wife, but unfortunately she died just two years after they married. The model for The Lady of the Window was Jane Morris, the wife of William Morris http://education.yahoo.com/reference/encyclopedia/entry?id=32448

Itís believed Rossetti never recovered from Lizzies death and spent the rest of his life in depression and remorse. Iím glad Iím not like that.

Bio http://www.sunsite.org.uk/sites/sunsite.dk/cgfa/rossetti/rossetti_bio.htm
ARC http://www.artrenewal.org/asp/database/art.asp?aid=76
Dante Gabriel Rossetti http://www.artcyclopedia.com/artists/rossetti_dante_gabriel.html

08-10-2005, 08:02 PM
Yes Bruce, the one and only.... sorry I couldnt resist. I think LLB would DIE for that blouse. Actually I'm a big fan - I see that is now the presenter. I believe my fav episode was when he did the zebra stripes and the folks hated it - became quite a row....Sorry for getting your thread Off Topic...

A Few Pigments
08-10-2005, 08:29 PM
Kathleen please donít worry about it. Your insight and humor are always welcome. :)

08-11-2005, 06:48 PM
Sorry Bruce, I meant to get back to you sooner!

David Allen Brownís Leonardo Da Vinci-Origins of a Genius spends quite a bit of time showing the influence of Verrocchioís work on Leonardoís early paintings. It also talks about the rivalry betweenVerrocchio and Pollaiuolo and how details of Pollaiuoloís paintings are imitated in paintings by Leonardo.

I found reference to paintings by Filippo Lippi. Leonardoís paintings are so much more realistic than what came before him but he did pick up ideas from earlier painters in terms of what the people in his paintings are doing.

The Rossetti would be a great next master work to copy! :cool: :cool: :cool:

Barb Solomon :cat:

A Few Pigments
08-11-2005, 08:26 PM
Thank you Barb. Thatís really interesting info. I donít think of the old masters as copying from other artists, but I guess it just proves ďThe nature of life is changeĒ. And ďThe more things change, the more they stay the sameĒ. I try very hard though to never use anyone elseís ideas in my work.

08-13-2005, 12:59 PM
Is this going to go on for another 4-5 years .........????

A Few Pigments
08-13-2005, 03:36 PM
Hi cabbage1,
The reason I said this painting could take years is because it took da Vinci years to paint the Mona Lisa, so why should anyone who does a copy be expected to paint it in less time then the original, brilliant, talented da Vinci. Da Vinci spent 4 to 6 years just painting her mouth.

Tintoretto was different though. Hi painted much faster than any of the other old masters Iíve read about. He did a 20 foot by 40 foot painting in oil with hundreds of figures in it in just 15 months. He had a reputation for being a very calm, quite person except when he painted. When Tintoretto painted he became a human whirlwind. Vasari said this about Tintoretto: ďHe may be said to possess the most singular, capricious and determined hand, with the boldest, most extravagant and obstinate brain that has ever yet belonged to the domain of art.Ē

Da Vinci was very different than Tintoretto. I read that when he painted the Mona Lisa he hired musicians and singers to play for Lisa in his studio so that she might have a peaceful and entertaining time posing for him. Da Vinci liked to listen music and be dressed in fine clothing when he painted. He had a much more measured approach to his work.

08-14-2005, 02:00 AM
Extremely interesting and fascinating information Bruce......I'm rating this thread....excellent....... :clap:

A Few Pigments
08-14-2005, 01:27 PM
Thank you very much Kim. Itís always nice when people appreciate something Iíve done. :)

08-15-2005, 01:06 PM
Perhaps you could be very post modern and do Tintoretto doing da Vinci... after all he got the mouth right in the end all you have to do is copy it

08-15-2005, 01:17 PM
Hi Bruce me old china. A lot of us are learning some good things in this thread, so cheers mate.


A Few Pigments
08-15-2005, 01:24 PM
Oi Mikey, ta mate.

cabbage1 the best any artist can do is to be true to himself. One copies to learn about many aspects of art, but at the end of the day one must never loose sight of their own truth.

A Few Pigments
08-26-2005, 01:29 AM
This is the start of the final version. A yellow dress with yellow sleeves, and a green cloak with a green vail and pinkish flesh tones. Those are the colours da Vinci used. I know because I was there. Okay, I wasnít really there, but I did read a book about it.

I have to completely repaint the picture now. Life sucks and then it gets worse.


08-26-2005, 05:32 AM
Ahhhhh well...as they say over here Bruce....life wasn't meant to be easy....... :evil: (and I really know that's true.. :( .because some VI eastern philosopher once said...until you accept that life is suffering you will not be happy...or something like that......) that's why we choose to be artists.... :evil: ...you'll get it....you still have plenty of time to break Da Vinci's record...
kim...keep your chin up mate........ :wave:

A Few Pigments
08-26-2005, 08:39 PM
Thank you Kim for the encouraging words. Talking about eastern philosophers reminds me that I read about the life of Sidharta Gautama, who became The Buddha and the hardships he suffered on his journey to his awakening. All the trials and tribulations he suffered were worse than trying to understand what art is. But Buddha moved beyond suffering. He found a better way. And I canít help but think that the better way for me would beÖwait for itÖpaint by numbersÖlolÖIím such a daft twitÖbut youíre right I will get there. It just takes a little time, a little paint and learning how to draw.

08-27-2005, 01:55 PM
Come on Bruce ... make this your own Gioconda with a wink to the real one. A few more pigments (sorry I meant brushstrokes lol) and it's a good work !

Anita Murphy
08-27-2005, 04:31 PM
Those are the colours da Vinci used. I know because I was there.
And looking very good for your age!

This is coming on a pace.

08-27-2005, 05:05 PM
Bruce - You've really got my respect for trying this one! And you are really doing a great job! Keep up the good work!

Barb Solomon :cat:

A Few Pigments
08-27-2005, 05:57 PM
Hi Barb, perhaps you should hold your respect in abeyance until you see the finished painting. With my poor drawing skills I donít much fancy itís chances. However, we shall see. It might turn out okay.

Oi Anita, itís good to see you. Itís true I still have my boyish good looks, but thereís more snow on the thatch then there used to be. How are things coming with your citizenship?

Hi Gilberte, thank you for dropping by. This will have my brush mark on it, so to speak. Da Vinci glazed and I just canít work that way. Itís not my nature. But I want to keep this as close to the pigments da Vinci used. Although, lately Iíve been thinking about buying a tube of chrome green. Definitely not a renaissance pigment.

09-12-2005, 08:08 AM
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/12-Sep-2005/63970-mona_lisa_13_sept_05_nie_klaar_klein.jpgI really enjoyed this thread, and was challenged into giving Mona Lisa a go.
My first attempt at copying a painting.

Here is my version of Mona (still WIP).

Interesting comparing all the different Monas.

09-12-2005, 08:45 AM
@ flurpy.

She looks even more mysterious than the real one.
The nose perhaps ... a tad too long ?
Good luck !

A Few Pigments
09-12-2005, 11:40 AM
Hi Hendrik, this is a very good rendering of the Mona Lisa. Itís a very difficult painting to do well since Da Vinci cheated a bit on the features of the face and what we see today is the result of many efforts to retouch the painting and many layers of yellowed varnish. Thank you for posting this.

If you enjoyed doing this copy you might be interested in the Master of the Month thread in the oil forum. The MOM threads are never closed, so you can copy a painting in an old thread or a painting in the current MOM http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=181

09-12-2005, 11:48 AM
Thanks for the comments.
Gilberte, you are right, nose is a bit long, I've not noticed before. (darn darn darn!)

Odd how one seems to miss one's own mistakes.

I'll have a look at the master's thread. This site is so huge, one does not always know about all the stuff on here!


09-16-2005, 02:41 PM

you're doing a good job, but isn't it kind of overwhelming how much harder some things are than they look? Da Vinci made it look so simple, I guess that's where the master genius comes into play. I appreciate you doing this demo. I can see that you've come very far and have put in lots of time and effort and bumped into some problems along the way. I will definately check back in on your progress. Keep up the good work!

09-17-2005, 06:46 PM
Ah Ha....Bruce you will have us all inspired to paint Mona before too long....... :evil: :D :wave: kim

09-23-2005, 03:21 PM
Hi all.
Worked a bit at my attempt at Leonardo's best.

After the hours I put into this painting I really gained a lot of respect for the old masters. (I redid the face, after realizing the nose was half a centimentre to long)http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/23-Sep-2005/63970-mona_amper_klaar.jpg

My theory is that very few commercial artists can afford to spend so much time on one painting, which is part of the reason why we don't see so much realism on canvasses.

Please feel free to comment.

09-23-2005, 03:25 PM
Here is the detail.

I'm curious to see how Few Pigment is going along with his version.
It looked quite promising, and I've been waiting for a further update from him to try and get some tips.


09-23-2005, 03:26 PM
Here is the detail.

I'm curious to see how Few Pigment is going along with his version.
It looked quite promising, and I've been waiting for a further update from him to try and get some tips.


09-23-2005, 04:28 PM
Hey Flury, I've got some new for you as far as the UK is concerned anyway. The other week I weent down to London to see a realist show curated by Lucie-Smith aaat The Albemarle Gallery. It was one top galleries who represent realist artisty and has done since it berginnings. I bought a catalogue for their next show which was ther work of the Spanish painter Goys Dominguez. Inside the catalogue was an invitation for the private view. You have to know I couldn'r resist the tempation and went.

A tour of those galleries round the Royal Academy had already convinced me that figuritve painting had made a definite return to favour. Now I was able to have a long chat with a gallery staff member. She was quite definite: realism has returned.


A Few Pigments
09-23-2005, 08:25 PM
Hi Mikey, youíre very luck to live were there are so many great museums. I used to until I moved to the middle of nowhere. Now the closest museum is 40 miles away and I never have time to go.

Hi flurpy, in regard to my progress with this painting I have 14 works here at WC Iím working on and I need to get them all finished before the end of the year. Iíll do my best to post an update of Lisa by Wednesday of next week.

In regard to any tips I could give you Iíd first have to ask what your goal is for your rendering. If youíre trying for a straight copy youíve come very close, especially with the most difficult part: the face. Compared to the face the rest of the painting is relatively easy. One thing you could change is the line up of the mountains on either side of her head. If you look at the original youíll see on your painting the mountains on the left are a bit too low and the mountains on the right are a bit too high. Overall your copy is a very good rendering and better than many Iíve seen.

On my copy Iíve started the application of the colours Da Vinci originally used. A yellow dress with yellow sleeves, and a green cloak with a green veil and pinkish flesh tones. Iíd like to give her red hair, but red hair and a green veil could create mud so it will be fun to see if I can do it.

09-24-2005, 01:59 AM
Hi few pigments.
I more or less try to do a straight copy, without copying the cracks.

I've not played with oils a lot yet. My past experience is that the wet paint and drying time frustrated me too much. I used to prefer acrylics, as it is a quick medium, and I like to get in and finish a job quickly.

I recently did my first portrait in acrylics (of my farther - also posted), and I found blending acrylics difficult, and switched to oils on that painting, and fell in love with that medium.

I cannot express how much pleasure my Mona in oils is giving me. That feeling of standing back and thinking "wow, did I do that?" (if it sounds like bragging, it is only slightly intended to be)

My biggest concern at present is doing the curly hair draping over mona's left shoulder. I got no idea how to go about it, but I think I must wait for the paint to dry first.

The colour of the flesh tone also needs some more yellow, and consider glazing a bit of yellow over it once it has dried a bit.

I'm also using student colours (Winton) as I don't require my paintings to last that long, and our local art shop doesn't even stock artist colours. I read on WC last night that especially when glazing, art colours are much more effective. I have never spoken to anyone with experience with artist colours. What do you use, and what is your experience?

I think of buying one or two art colour tubes, just to feel and compare the difference.

I'll do a bit of work on the mountains, as you pointed out, is not quite right.

Lastly, I see there is a product on the market you put on your paintings to have it cracked (a varnish or something). Would you recommend using that on Mona to give her a more realistic look?

Thanks also for the hulpful feedback.

A Few Pigments
09-24-2005, 05:13 AM
Hi flurpy, about the only way to paint the hair is with a small brush if you want the level of detail the original painting has. If you can settle for a suggestion of hair then you could load a wide brush and paint each curl with one stroke. It just depends on the level of detail you want.

In regard to student grade paint Vs professional grade paint itís important to separate myth from fact. Good quality student grade paint is made the same way today that it was in Da Vincis time. The same pigments that are used for professional grade paint are used in student grade paint. Student grade paint has half as much pigment in it as professional paint has. A filler is added to the student grade paint to take the place of the missing pigment. The same linseed oil thatís used in professional grade paint is used in good quality student grade paint. So, the only real difference between good professional paint and good student paint is that the student paint has half as much pigment and a filler.

The colour in student paint wonít be as strong and vibrant as the colour in professional paint, but itís not a huge difference and itís important to keep in mind that student paint lasts just as long as professional paint. One note about professional acrylic paint. Professional acrylic paint has about 25 percent less pigment in it than professional oil paint has. The reason is because of the difference in the properties of the acrylic polymer in acrylic paint and how much pigment it will accept compared to the properties of the oils used in oil paint. So the pigment load in acrylic professional paint is close to the pigment load in student oil paint.

Iíd strongly recommend that you read as much about paint as you can. When you buy a colour to use there are the properties of the pigment itís self to consider including the tint of the pigment. The tint will play a roll in the colour you get when you mix colours together. Red and blue doesnít always make purple. Different blues and different yellows will make very different greens because of their different tints and so on. The Color Theory/Mixing forum is a good place to learn more about paint, pigments and colour theory http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=14

In regard to Winton paint I highly recommend it. Winsor and Newton makes perfectly good professional and student paint. Not all of the Winton paints use the same pigments as the pro range though, so I also use paint from the pro range from W&N.

There are different products you can buy to give a painting an aged look. They can damage the paint film and shorten the life of a painting, but they can also be fun to experiment with. Itís really up to you if you use them, but I canít say Iíd recommend them for any serious work you do.

A place where you could also post this painting is the Classical Art forum http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=110 There are great people there who can give you advice about classical painting methods that I havenít learned.

If you have any more questions just let me know.

09-25-2005, 02:06 PM
Thanks for the helpful reply.
I'll also drop in at the suggested forum.
Keep well.

A Few Pigments
09-28-2005, 02:12 PM
Flurpy I donít have anything to post yet, sorry. I havenít painted for a week now and I donít know if I will again. I see youíre doing well in the Classical forum and there are good people there who can help you while I decide what Iím going to do next. Actually I doubt I could be much help to you since Iím not an artist and know nothing about art. All Iím really good at is finding links. Good luck with your painting.

09-28-2005, 07:15 PM
Actually I doubt I could be much help to you since Iím not an artist and know nothing about art. All Iím really good at is finding links.
Not true.....Bruce.......... :( ...I feel like that at times too......especially....when I look at artwork.........and stuff that makes me feel like giving up............most of the time I enjoy painting in my own little world......and that's fine.......but then I venture out into the big wide world....and to be honest.......it's terrifying.......the art world is so cut-throat.......I have a bit of a mental block at the moment...with the murals......(going to start back tomorrow).......my suggestion.......if you don't mind me saying....is try a self portrait.......perhaps in the style of your Lein Portrait...........kim..... :wave:

09-30-2005, 11:26 PM
Now I remember why I left this place. Don't worry, I wont come back. I am tied of the a** kissing for what?

A Few Pigments
10-01-2005, 04:07 AM
I tried painting the face again. Now it looks like she has a Cabbage Patch Kids face http://www.mycpk.com/

May be I could rename this the Cabbage Patch Kids faced Mona Lisa.

I painted in a sky. I think itís always good to have one of those above a landscape. Kind of makes it look complete.

The green on the cloak is terre verte and itís doing a jolly good job of living up to its reputation as a transparent, weak pigment. I had to put on about a gallon just to get it this far.



Kimaris Kobal
10-01-2005, 08:05 AM
Hi all.
Worked a bit at my attempt at Leonardo's best . . .

flurpy, well, the good news is that your second "attempt" looks closer to da Vinci. The "bad news" is that I like your first attempt better ;-) The longer nose and slightly caricatured features were working for me (and also the brighter colors, but this seems to be a factor of the differences in the photographs, not the painting). But keep in mind that I like weird stuff/I don't exactly have normal tastes. My opinion is a bad one to listen to for commercial success, lol.

A Few Pigments
11-02-2005, 07:49 PM
I think the face looks a bit better now, but still a long way to go.


11-02-2005, 11:22 PM
Bruce - Keep up the good work! Your doing a good job with the likeness.

Barb Solomon :cat:

A Few Pigments
11-03-2005, 11:09 AM
Hi Barb, thankx for stopping by. Iíll keep working on this. I hope to have it finished by or before the end of the year.

A Few Pigments
11-03-2005, 09:35 PM
Iím trying to add eyebrows to this and it isnít going to well. I think the bridge of her nose is too high. Or may be sheís got too big a toll booth.


11-03-2005, 10:46 PM
Bruce - Do you believe the story about the eyebrows coming off when they cleaned the painting?

The eyebrow on the right hand side is OK as far as height goes. Just lower the top a bit on the other side. Remember that if you extend a straight line from the nose to the corner of the eye and extend that out the eyebrow ends on the line. The outer edges of your eyebrow is extending a bit far out.

Barb Solomon :cat:

A Few Pigments
11-04-2005, 04:23 AM
Hi Barb,

I donít really believe that story. I know it was the fashion in Lisaís day for well to do women to shave off their eyebrows. Iím glad women donít do that today.

I was looking at pictures of women to try to get an idea of just where the eyebrows would have been on Lisa, and it looks like da Vinci made the bridge of her nose longer then it should be. Actually both of her eyebrows are higher from her nose to mid point over her eyes then they should be, because the bridge of her nose is higher then it should be. I think to make her look normal Iím going to have to change her face a bit.

I keep wondering what she really looked like. Because the renaissance artists thought of ways to ďMake the world look exaltedĒ ďTo make the world look much better than it really doesĒ and because da Vinci played games with this face, weíll never know what Lisa really looked like. I read, in that large coffee table size book about da Vinci, that Lisaís husband refused to pay for the picture. He felt it didnít look enough like his wife to justify paying da Vinci for the work.

You know, I used to like renaissance paintings, and there was even a time when I though Lisa was beautiful, (I was 13 at the time) but now that Iíve had to understand how much the renaissance artists changed the faces of their subjects, I have no desire to ever paint another one. May be if I had lived back then I would have felt differently. Iíd much rather paint women the way they really look.

So now Iím wondering how I can make Lisa look beautiful (by contemporary standards) and still keep a renaissance feel to the painting. that would also mean adding something else she doesnít have in the painting: eyelashes. Iím glad I wasnít one of da Vinciís students. Iím surprised he left her hair on her head. The silly old twit!

11-12-2005, 07:42 PM
using your reference photo and your detail of your progress and a few lines i made this up .... maybe this will answer some of your questions and guide you with modifications? ... once you begin modeling, i think you'll be pleased with how you've got things too ... i'm looking forward to seeing your finished work ...


my images might be a bit different in size but i'm just trying to get an approximation showing here ...

A Few Pigments
11-12-2005, 08:12 PM
Hi Violet,

Thank you for taking the time to do this. I can see where I went wrong with the eyes now. I could tell they werenít big enough, but I wasnít quite sure just how I needed to change them. Now I can see what I need to change.

This is the most difficult face Iíve ever tried to paint.

11-12-2005, 09:55 PM
i *do* hope you can also see what you've done right !! ... how well you've done .... as i said, when you start the modelling you'll see that ... note the relationships of the eyebrow shapes to the lines and i think you'll find the eyes aren't too far off ...

A Few Pigments
11-15-2005, 02:55 AM
These are different eyebrows just blocked in just to see what they look like. Iíve changed the profile a bit. The eyes still need a lot of work. C & c welcome.


A Few Pigments
11-18-2005, 07:29 PM
I think Iím getting her face a little closer to the way I want it. If I survive this, I sure hope it will improve my painting skills.

Does anyone think Lisa looks softer and more feminine now? Thatís the look Iím trying to achieve. C & c welcome.

Now that Iíve been working on this painting for as long as I have, I think I should have titled this thread ďDesperately Seeking LisaĒ, because thatís what this has become for me.


A Few Pigments
12-07-2005, 02:35 AM
Iím reading another book on da Vinci and it reminded me Lisaís husband was a silk merchant. So, I thought why not make her veil silk instead of the transparent one da Vinci used. Iím sure Iíll find out why as I go along. I also found out she has a twisting scarf over her left shoulder. So, she really has on a dress a cloak a scarf and a veil. Iím glad I donít have to paint her shoes too.

Leonardo said about his method: ďwithout lines or borders, in the manner of smokeĒ. I think his smoke is getting in my eyesÖcoughÖcoughÖ


This is something that is very similar to something that is very much like what I was trying to paint. Itís terrible isnít itÖLOL

12-07-2005, 04:56 AM
I'd hang them all in a row on my wall !

A Few Pigments
12-07-2005, 02:45 PM
Hi Gilberte, nice to see you. How have you been? Have you had any snow yet in Belgium? Wow, thank you very much for the compliment. Iím having a problem getting this face the way I want it. Iíll just keep working on it till I get it right.

12-08-2005, 12:19 AM
Hi Bruce,

Your ďvariationsĒ on Mona are fun!

Do any of his other ladies from other paintings have eyebrows? I think that it is his St. Anne looks very similar to Mona. For a while I have expected that Mona was a combination of people.

Your painting is really showing the softness around her mouth. Iím still inching along on my Leonardo Angel.

Barb Solomon:cat:

A Few Pigments
12-08-2005, 03:19 AM
Hi Barb, good to see you. In regard to any other paintings by da Vinci having eyebrows I could only find two. They have more of a suggestion of them then anything else.

1474-76 Portrait of Ginevra Benci 38-8x36-7cm.jpg

1490 La belle FerroniŤre 24 3-4x17 5-8inc 63x45cm.jpg

I donít know if Saint Anne is Lisa. I do know after looking at da Vinciís paintings the faces women have in his paintings feel so contrived to me that I have no interest in painting anymore of them. Itís true for all of the artists of the renaissance. But I was thinking may be itís because they didnít really paint colours and values in a photographic way.

I read Lisa was supposed to be painted sitting outside on a terrace, but da Vinci actually painted her in his studio. You can see the wall of the terrace behind her in the painting and on either side of her (if you look closely) youíll see part of the spindles sitting on top of the wall. At least 1 Ĺ to 2 Ĺ inches of the sides of the painting were cut off at some point so originally she was framed by the spindles.

Itís the light that bothers me the most though. Did da Vinci imagine her in full sunlight whilst painting her in his studio? Or is it possible he imagined a wall behind himself with him sitting between her and the wall? In which case she would have been in indirect sunlight. The background seems to be in full sunlight but was she? In landscape painting thereís a rule that the sky is always lighter than the land, but the values in the most distant mountains are the same in the hills directly behind her. That doesnít follow the rule he invented that things get lighter the further away they are.

Iíve been trying to remain as faithful to the original as possible whilst making the changes I need to make, but I canít do that anymore. Iím just going to pull out all the stops and do it my way. I need to get this thing finished before I die of old age.

Good luck with your painting of da Vinciís angel. I know what trying to do one of his paintings can be like, and itís never easy.

12-08-2005, 03:32 AM
Hi Bruce,
I simply love the Ginevra painting ... always thought she had more mystery in the face than Mona. Read somewhere there's actually Da Vinci's fingerprint ON the painting ......
We had a bit of snow a fortnight ago but not worth mentioning ...
Ciao my friend !

12-08-2005, 06:14 PM
Hi Bruce,

If the story about the brows coming off were true, they would have probably been wispy brows like the ones you are showing.

I can see why the lighting difference would become noticeable to you! There is a lot of difference between a sunny balcony and a sunny room!

Enjoy the painting!

Barb Solomon:cat:

A Few Pigments
12-30-2005, 11:06 PM
This is my progress on Lisasí face. Exciting uh!Ölol


12-31-2005, 03:07 AM
She gets more interesting everytime she shows up !
Excellent !

A Few Pigments
12-31-2005, 02:17 PM
Hi Gilberte,
Iím glad you feel sheís getting more interesting. Iím trying to make this look different in a good way. Thereís no way to improve on what da Vinci did though. He was a genius. Thank you for your comments.

01-02-2006, 04:53 PM
you're developing a lovely personality in her ... a little colour variation in the whites of her eyes and the more depth they will have ... keep up the great work

A Few Pigments
01-02-2006, 10:26 PM
Hi Violet.
Thank you for your comments. Iíll keep working on her personality and her eyes. Her mouth seems to be the most difficult part.

A Few Pigments
01-03-2006, 12:26 AM
Another update. Does this look more realistic then the last update?


01-03-2006, 12:40 AM
looking at my own reference of mona, i notice that her lower eye lids are fuller than what you depict, her neck-to-shoulder needs to be softened, and her irises of her eyes need to be more round and/or the pupils centered ... are you making her blue eyed rather than brown eyed? .... you are doing wonderfully, though ... and legend has it that da vinci himself worked on her mouth for years !! ... 3 i think ... so don't feel too bad that you're finding them daunting ... i'm sure as you work in the shadows she'll *come alive* ... !! :)

A Few Pigments
01-03-2006, 01:55 PM
Hi Violet,
Are you seeing her eyes as blue? The reason I ask is I used burnt umber, raw sienna and ivory black for her eyes, but on my monitor the pupils look greenish.

Iíve read da Vinci worked for 6 to 10 years on the mouth and he worked on the entire painting from 1503 to 1519 and left it unfinished. This is the only portrait I know of where the mouth is more difficult to get right then the eyes are.

Iím still trying to change her face a bit and add eyebrows and eyelashes.

01-06-2006, 09:43 AM
I couldn't help but notice you originally posted a copy of the painting you were going to reproduce; I'd keep it near the painting so you could look at it as an aid ...

A Few Pigments
01-06-2006, 05:32 PM
Hi cabbage1,
I do use the original painting by da Vinci as a reference each time I paint. I planned to do three different versions of this, but then decided to skip the first two. Since then I decided to make some changes to this version and of course along the way Iíve changed my mind about the changes several times. Thank you for your comments.

Iíve done more work on every part of thisÖalmostÖdoes it look any better? C&c welcome.



01-06-2006, 09:21 PM
you're doing great! ... once you model her face with more shadows around the eyes and under her chin i think you'll see her evolve even more ... and yes, her eyes look bluish or greenish ... in contrast to the dark eyes of the original ...

A Few Pigments
01-08-2006, 03:25 PM
Hi Violet,
Thatís funny about the colour of the eyes. Iíll keep working on the shadows. I saw a woman on TV today how looked very much like Lisa and she had very thin eyebrows. I think thatís the kind Iíll use. Da Vinci used them for other portraits he did. I think I need to move out the hood on the right side further from her face. It looks too close on that side yet and the curve on the right side of her forehead doesnít look quite right. Thank you for your comments.

01-08-2006, 06:09 PM
just popping in to say 'hi'..... great progress Bruce!

A Few Pigments
01-08-2006, 07:54 PM
Hi Kathleen, good to see you and thank you. :)

02-05-2006, 01:09 AM
I noticed that no one is brave enough to try!~

A Few Pigments
02-05-2006, 01:50 AM
Hi Sherry,
No one is brave enough to try what?