Category: Queen of Cups

  I’m very pleased to publish these two pictures of The Queen of Cups and the Star as they appear in the New Romantic Figure exhibit. I love the tabernacle frames. We’ve matched the colour of the decorative trim around the Star to the Iron Oxide of the base coat so it picks up the colour of the painting nicely. The Reds of the Queen’s dress are set off so nicely against the white of her frame that I was reluctant to decorate it, so presently it’s a simple white, very classical, very clean.

I’m so happy to get this show rolling, it’s been close to my heart for a couple of years. It looks lovely now that it’s got good lighting. The twelve page full colour brochures arrived this evening, ready for the reception tomorrow night, and I have about eighty posters to give away too. Ask me for one if you can make it to the event.

The Kwan Fong Gallery is at California Lutheran University, Thousand Oaks, California, 91360

The Opening Reception is at 7pm on Saturday 20th August, 2011.

What a treat it was to see the paintings in these frames for the first time! Although they were still only painted with primer this morning I could see that they will lift the paintings into an altogether different plane. I’m really grateful to Stacey, Aaron and Joe for their help. These are fabulous!

On the right there’s a shot of the Star frame in it’s yellow state. Using Photoshop I tested a variety of colours for both the Star and the Queen of Cups (which I keep calling the Lady in Red because of that lovely old Chris de Burgh song).

Although I’ve been very busy with the last couple of days of my classes (I teach Drawing and Painting classes during the summer) I did find some time to get some more work done on the stained glass window, which needs one more layer to complete the coloured light that’s cast upon the boxing. I used Ceramic White as a glaze over the panes, lifting it off with my finger to blur it. I still need to paint the coloured light that’s passed through the glass onto the boxing of the glass.

The Green Man painting got framed today, in a deep box with a receding molding. I like this unusual shape very much and plan to do similar framing for more work in the future. It’s really simple, using base molding with a decorative trim inside the leading edge. I like it in white, which gives a nice contrast to a pretty dark painting. This one won’t be in the exhibit, I’ll have to save it for the shows next year.



I’ve added the bones of new sections of window to the left of the painting in a rethink of the architecture of the painting, mostly because I dislike the small size of the window as it was, but also simply because I like the way the stained glass works alongside the red hair and dress and want more of it. Figuring out the architecture was enjoyable, with some interesting shapes to explore, then it was satisfying painting out the existing work with a base layer of ocean blue, most of which will be obscured by the glass when it gets painted over.

In the morning Tony Pro, Mike Adams and I were interviewed for a short video about the New Romantic Figure Painting exhibit. I’ll post more about it when it’s complete. It’s going to be put onto YouTube on the 22nd August, right after the show opens, including interviews with the artists, film from the opening, and shots of the paintings.


Putting shadow beside the Lady, the sword and the grail made everything feel far more three dimensional. The sword casts an interesting shadow shape which I enjoyed working out, while the grail is much closer to the wall, so the shadow is far simpler. Adding highlights to the sword and cup helped with solidity, making the grail feel more earthen, while clean areas of white with hard edges made the blade start to feel more metallic. A little blue over this should make the blade feel quite steely.

Continuing to build shadows I darkened the area beneath the arm and immediately to the right of the Queen’s torso so that she is more within the space, feels less flat.

I worked on the boxing around the stained glass for a little while, figuring out how the coloured light would tint the surface of the wall beside it, suggesting that the world within the paintings continues outside the window.

I’m getting pretty excited about getting the show up and running – we’ll hang it in a week!

Working on the painting yesterday and today turned into a real pleasure, with a major change to the composition with the addition of some leaded glass behind the Queen and a base layer for the sword and grail. The window was fun, figuring out the dark stripes of lead and popping highlights on the leading edges, then glazing the panes of glass with Iron Oxide Orange and some Naples Yellow. I used Ceramic White to cover the lower panes, lifting much of the glaze off with my finger to imitate the milky quality that old windows have. I made sure the colour of the glass was spilled onto the window boxing to give the feeling of light coming through it. I expect to add more architectural elements to the painting before I’m finished.

I didn’t do much to the sword other than to create a grey version of the values, then adding colour to it once the greys had dried.




I realized that the perspective of the window was a little askew, so I’ve enlarged one of the receding walls a little and narrowed the other to accommodate a correction. The window is a little smaller as a result, and the wall appears a bit thicker.

At last I felt comfortable enough with the walls and frescos to re-draw the cup and sword that lean against the shelf beside the Queen, lining them in Iron Oxide Red, then filling in the body of the forms with Foundation White in preparation for painting them. I borrowed a sword from the props department of the University Theatre Department, feeling a bit odd as I walked across campus with it. There’s really no way to carry a sword without looking dangerous!


I’m happy with the small amount of depth that the sword gives the space in the painting, which was so narrow that it felt a bit flat.



I’ve used Bembo’s illustrations for the Tales of Lancelot to produce a fresco along the wall behind the Queen, referring to the work of Botticelli, his great contemporary, for the feel of the faded paint of fresco paintings. (I love the Botticelli frescos in the Louvre, this one’s Venus and the Three Graces Presenting Gifts to a Young Woman, discovered in 1873 under whitewash at the Villa Lemmi, near Florence). I will use lead white to clean the fresco panels up and drop them back into the surface a little.

I’ve been enjoying the imagery of these illustrations while paintings them, particularly the panel which I’ve placed beside the Queen on the right, which has a servant draining blood from her arm into the bowl he holds – in this painting it works as symbolism of the self-sacrifice required of grail-seekers.

I’ve been mulling over how to approach the mural that I wanted to put onto the wall on the upper right side of the painting, but after a lot of thought I’ve decided that the composition works best if the wall remains open and I place the mural on the panels beside the figure, emphasizing the “L” shape of the woman framed in the window with the wainscot pulling off to the right.

I’m interested in the Queen of Cups as the possessor of the Holy Grail, the mythical chalice used by Jesus at the last supper and sought after by various Knights of the Round Table in the romances of King Arthur. In about 1450 Bonifacio Bembo, designer of the Visconti Sforza deck of tarot cards, illustrated a hand-penned manuscript of the Tales of Lancelot, so I’m quoting a few of his lovely illustrations in this painting, particularly those which include women and cups. Presently the images are rendered in Iron Oxide – I’ll make them look more fresco-like when I get back to the studio Monday (I don’t work on Sundays).

I’ve spent a lot of time this week promoting the upcoming “New Romantic Paintings” exhibit that’s going to open at CLU’s Kwan Fong Gallery on 20th August. The university just published a news article on it on the home page of its website, which is very gratifying, and I hope that we’ll see a really good number of people visiting these splendid paintings.

Because the hand was quite inelegant I’ve extended the fingers and flattened them out from their original bunched position, altered her arm by making it thinner and repainted the base layer of the sky and landscape around it. The white wall around the hand will need even more repainting, although it already took two retouches to cover the un-needed parts of the old version of the hand.

I reshaped her neck, which had become too straight and over-simple, by putting a curve into it and adding some shadow around the ear, which was repainted using a Burnt Sienna and some flesh mixed from Cad Orange, Viridian and White. I repainted the neck and arm because the arm in particular had become dirty from repeated work on the head. The ear needs a bit more attention to get it just so, but I’ll leave it for now so that it can dry, then I can fix it without messing up the work that works well.

I’ve added a little purple into the shadows of the dress, and I think I’ll do another layer of the Red Ochre to get that nice rich red colour even deeper. The collar got a touch of Yellow Ochre to give it a bit of vibration.

In the photo on the right there’s a shot of the fantastic frame that Joseph is making for the Star. Its looking magnificent! When it’s complete it’s going to make the painting look very impressive.

The face is much improved thanks to a solid day of focused work, although the ear still needs to be fixed up. I spent a lot of time around the mouth and eye, re-shaping the contours of the shadows to make them more accurate and to blend out some of the edges that I felt were too strong.

I hummed and hah’ed about painting the red hair against the red dress before committing to it because I felt a little nervous about having too much of these similar colours.Now it’s done I think they are different enough to each other to be comfortable and I like it. Once the glaze of Iron Oxide went over her hair I let some of it blend into the skin of her temple and the back of her neck. I added a white lace trim to the colour which I will glaze with a bit of a yellow to make it similar to the fabric around her stomach.

It’s time to work on the arms and hands.