Medieval Sphinx – playing with gouache

The Sphinx - from Medea kills Jason's sun by Lieven van Lathem

This is a really quick and dirty painting , playing with some cheap gouache and watercolour paper I hate :). I’ve only ever done little bits with gouache as I tend to play with watercolours or acrylics so this felt a little weird. A friend lent me a book on illuminations, it’s glorious http://www.amazon.com/Illuminating-Renaissance-Triumph-Manuscript-Painting/dp/0892367032

Illuminating the Renaissance

I took a tiny piece of the border in a manuscript painting by Lieven van Lathem called “Medea kills Jason’s Son”. It was probably 2 x 2 inches in size and featured a sphinx playing a harp. I played a little with the flowers around it, moving the raspberry/ strawberry motif to the side. I even used the green gouache (on the ground) I made a few weeks ago. Sadly it’s not the best of textures to paint with, and didn’t flow as nicely as the modern paint. The colours used in the painting are as close a match as I could get to what was in the photograph, although I used acrylic gold paint for some of it rather than my scrap of shell gold gouache which I love to detail some of my watercolours with. It’s a fascinating mix of modern and ancient, with the 15th century garb which would have looked something similar to the photo in the link: http://cleftlands.cwru.edu/burg/index.html

This is a completely different way of painting for me, and feels like painting by numbers. Essentially I painted a layer, then added the shading over the top. It’s a fine balance between wet and dry as the wet paint lifts the dry colour if you’re not careful.