View Full Version : Project: Leonardo da Vinci Jan & Feb 11

01-01-2011, 05:59 AM

Welcome to our project on aspects of Leonardo da Vinciís art.

Things to study from Leonardo's work include:-

sfumato in painting
smooth paintwork
use of notebooks
detailed anatomical work
complicated compositon
study of perspective and vanishing point
religious themes
caricature studies of people in the environmentChoose one aspect to study in depth, ( for example, you might want to study the sfumato-smoke technique to give the illusion of distance in a landscape). Or you may prefer to pick and choose from several topics that interest you.

Looking forward to seeing your work. All media welcome.

Please post any links of interest to this project here too!!


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonardo_da_Vinci (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonardo_da_Vinci)

http://painting.about.com/od/oldmastertechniques/a/LeonardodaVinci.htm (http://painting.about.com/od/oldmastertechniques/a/LeonardodaVinci.htm)

http://www.mos.org/leonardo/zone.html (http://www.mos.org/leonardo/zone.html)

http://www.artcyclopedia.com/artists/leonardo_da_vinci.html (http://www.artcyclopedia.com/artists/leonardo_da_vinci.html)




01-01-2011, 02:46 PM
Can't resist studying one of the greatest. Probably will go for the Ginevra Benci portrait (http://www.artrenewal.org/pages/artwork.php?artworkid=1984&size=large).

Particularly interested in:
- Portraiture (how he conveys the personality and mood of the model)
- Composition (how he mixes both portrait, detailed botanical parts and landscape)
- Perspective (particularly how distance influences the way he has painted the background landscape)

Here are more of Da Vinci:s works at the Art Renewal site:

Leonardo Da Vinci (http://www.artrenewal.org/pages/artist.php?artistid=186&page=1)

Thanks for picking such an inspiring subject - wish you and all here at WC a great 2011 :-)

01-01-2011, 03:49 PM
June you picked my favourite master. I am always going back to look at his work in awe. This will hopefully get back into drawing and sketching, I have certainly slipped out of the habit. I love his sketchbooks and studies. I think these are what I will focus on. That might expand if I feel adventurous. Thank you so much for choosing such a wonderful subject. I'm going to check out the links now and find a few to start with.... awesome. :)

Here's to a great new year for us all.

01-02-2011, 02:30 AM
Thanks for that link mindbender...it has very good images! Hi Jacqui, there's certainly enough in Leonardo's work to keep an artist inspired for years, not just a couple of months. He is one of my favourites. I love his Madonnas.

01-02-2011, 05:10 AM
Jacquip: Thanks, wish you the same of course. Looking forward to seeing your studies from his sketchbooks. :-)

June: Glad you liked the link. Truly a fascinating artist. :-)

I have begun my study now, here is a first rough color sketch, blocking in the main colors: (ArtRage, oil brush 100-50%)

Having trouble to upload at the moment, here's a

LINK (http://cghub.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=34969&d=1293962343) to it

01-03-2011, 01:59 AM
I really like the way you progress your paintings in artrage from blocking in of the shapes/colour and then on towards the details. A modern approach to a classical study. I am looking forward to seeing it develop. She is a lovely portrait/painting to study.

I may try out some 'drapery' studies soon. I have a small paperback book on Leonardo and I've started reading about his life & works!!

01-04-2011, 10:46 AM

'Drapery study -after Leonardo', pitt pencil, 7 ins sq, paper.

I enjoyed doing this even although my eyes kind of lost the place lots of time...lost in all the folds of cloth! I found it interesting how the form of the legs was made evident by the swirls of the drapery. They seemed to wear a lot of cloth in those days.

I worked from a teeny illustration in my book but I've since located better images on the web for future studies , if I do them.

Maybe I will do some drapery from life; and some studies of heads from Leonardo. My aim is to do a portrait or a madonna copied from Leonardo. :wave:

01-06-2011, 08:52 AM
Wonderful study, June. You've really managed to capture the difference in values, shapes and direction of the drapery. :-)

Which original did you use as reference? (curious whether it was a drawing or painting and of course which one)

Thanks for encouragement, glad you enjoy following my workflow. Here's WIP2, working with oil brush 25-20% and palette knife:

01-07-2011, 01:44 PM
I think I'm gonna have to sit this one out. But I'll be sure to see all the great stuff ya'll do!!!! Go for it!!!

01-09-2011, 08:45 AM
June fantastic job on the drapery. You can clearly see the form of the legs underneath. It looks so soft and natural too, well done.

Mindbender this is already looking so good. I really appreciate you showing the steps you go through, so interesting and inspiring. Looking forward to seeing how it develops further.

01-10-2011, 01:13 AM
I chose the Woman with the Mink. I tried using a grid for the first time. I used to always resize with a computer program and then use transfer paper. I like transfering with the grid better, I can get more elegant line quality and it is actually more accurate because using transfer paper often flattened things out due to lack of subtlety of tone.

Criticism and advice much appreciated.

01-10-2011, 01:42 AM
Da Vinci's painting technique was to make an under painting in gray or brown. Then he would use many transparent glazes allowing the tones of the under painting to show through and eye visually mixes the layers to create a deep and mysterious effect.

Sfumato, was a technique of transparent dark glazes like smoke to soften edges, deepen shadows and make backgrounds recede. The surfaces of DaVinci's paintings are very smooth without visible brush strokes. He may have applied the glazes with his fingers rather than a brush. He may have applied as many as 40 layers and had to allow them to dry in between.

Da Vinci used a limited pallette with mostly earth colors, black and white.

A possible modern adaptation of DaVinci's technique, that is also a bit of a time saver, would be to use acrylic paints thinned to transparent glazes with water, which dry in minutes in a heated studio. One can easily apply 5-10 glaze layers an evening and complete a painting within a month. (Just like nail polish, you have to make sure it isn't just the surface that is dry before you retouch the surface, if the glazes are still wet you can pull all your paint up and ruin hours of hard work! Bone dry is key)

Another options, is to use oils, but with fast drying medium or even water miscible oils to achieve the thinner layers with a faster drying time. Finally, one could skip the dozens of layers of paint, in favor of the direct painting method.

01-12-2011, 10:53 PM
Sarah great start on your drawing. I am sure it will turn out great with all that preparation, it really does show in the end.

I started some sketches of Da Vinci's plant studies. I am really enjoying them. It has made me realise that the subject doesn't have to be spectacular, he drew dandelions and blackberries among other things. I have plenty of weeds in the garden I can practice with :)

Here's my start...

01-13-2011, 12:05 AM
June, incredibly good study of drapery. I have a book of his drawings too and you did this very well.

mindbender, this is a digital WIP, right? It's looking very good already.

sarastar, very meticulous method and good results already.

Jacqui, I totallly agree. He may have dramatic groups of people together but his plant drawings are quite charming. Yours look good too. I like the wash.

I'm the type without patience especially for plants and so I only doodle and not copy exactly.

This is Chinese brush and ink, and instead of white gouache, I used Stabilo Aquarelle all surface pencil white which is faster.


This one is done with Cretacolor 5.6 mm white charcoal lead and black charcoal lead. This white charcoal is so much softer than General's white compressed white stick. It's easier to use in general.


01-13-2011, 12:43 AM
This is my painting with its under painting. It is hard to keep the subtlety of the drawing, but I will try.

01-13-2011, 01:56 AM
Sarastar, I am looking forward to seeing the lady with the ermine/mink progressing. I love that painting by Leonardo. It is said he used the brown grisaille method with glazing layers and I see you are using this technique too. It will be lovely to see her get her layers of colours.

Sandra, your detailed studies of plants are in perfect tradition with the botanical work of Leonardo. And its something we can do from life...take a plant or weed from the garden and do a study!

My pencil study of the drapery was from a painted version of Leonardo's work and it was from a tiny -and not very good illustration- in a small paperback. I may do a painted version later as I tracked down a better illustration on the web.

01-13-2011, 02:38 PM
you all are doing some nice stuff

01-14-2011, 09:44 PM
Here are some sketches from a study sheet on cats and then I did some of my own using my cat lying next to me as a model.


These are fun.... off to do some more :)

01-23-2011, 11:37 PM
DaVinci uses so many thin layers, and I am a little afraid I didn't use enough drying medium in this layer, so it might be a while before I can do the next layers, or at least, I will need to switch from using the mixing medium to the straight linseed with a dash of drying medium for the next layers. Scared :eek: but since this just practice, I suppose I shouldn't lose it if she cracks a little later on.

I have a sap green, but it isn't quite deep enough/dark enough, so I am trying to figure on how to mix a proper green for her sleeve. Don't you love her asymatrical outfit? So modern!

01-27-2011, 12:08 PM
I love the green/red of this lady's dress. Its so attractive. Nice to see the update too. I wonder how it would be to copy using acrylics. I might try that for quickness.

I love those cat studies, Jaqui. A good idea to follow on from copies of Leonardo to studies of your own cat!

I watched part of a DVD on Leonardo at the weekend. Mainly on his science work.

01-27-2011, 01:11 PM
Great going, guys! :clap:

Here's WIP3 of mine, hinting at where the eyes will go and WIP4, zooming in and working on the features of the face. 10 to 5% oil brush tool and 20-10% palette knife: (ArtRage)



01-27-2011, 02:56 PM
I like her lips. Very cute pout.

02-01-2011, 06:53 PM
Mindbender, you did her eyes well. And all the color combo looks good too.

mindbender, I do like her outfit. Your piece is not easy. There are fingers involved!

I finally have time this month to do some. Hopefully, I'll come up with some.

02-03-2011, 02:25 AM
Mindbender, its a treat to see all the stages. She is really coming to life!

02-05-2011, 11:35 AM
Nice studies Sandra and Jacqui (love the cats)

I like watching your progress Magnus and Sara.

June...studying trees and drapes have been on my list for ever. Maybe I'll get to them some day.

Inspired by A Study of The Leda:


02-08-2011, 12:33 AM
A lovely study of Leda, Janet. The swirling hair is beautifully captured in ink. She has a sensitive introspective facial expression.

It would be good to do some illustrations of classical myths like Leda sometime. I don't know the story in detail but a story of the exploits of mortals and gods I believe.

02-08-2011, 06:15 AM
Thanks June. I loved the hair-do. :heart:

02-13-2011, 10:20 AM
Hi All, I thought I would do a Da Vinci study as his work is so fine. This piece was completed using various pastels pencils on a toned surface. The hair was difficult to render as the reference picture didn't show much detail However my main aim here was to capture the softness of the face and the light.
I had to put construction lines on my paper for the drawing because I just couldn't get the mouth correct. I'm hoping that it looks ok.

Da Vinci is great for projects. I hope to do another before the month is up!! Thanks for lookinghttp://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/13-Feb-2011/211511-davinci.jpg

02-18-2011, 12:01 PM
A lovely, soft study Swindanna. The mouth looks fine to me. Hard to do at that angle. Please do some more.

02-18-2011, 07:02 PM
Swindana you did a great job capturing the softness and light in this study. Has a beautiful feel to it. The mouth looks good to me too.

02-19-2011, 02:34 AM
The skin tones are lovely, Swindana, making the skin look very smooth.

02-21-2011, 03:34 PM
Hi All, thanks for your inspiring comments. I wish I could've made the eyes look less hollow though!

02-22-2011, 02:34 PM
Janet, the hair is very well done.

Swindana, very expressive piece in terms of colors. Well done.