Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Painting is my bread and butter

“Self-Portrait” by Anders Zorn, for the Uffizi Gallery. 1889

Lately I was doing research about Anders Leonard Zorn, Sweden's most celebrated master painter and his painting technique. I watched a few documentaries and read about his life, which was quite interesting, so I would like to share with you a little bit of that... Zorn was born in 1860 in Mora, Sweden. He studied at Royal Academy of Art in Stockholm. He was planned to become a sculptor but his talent on painting changed everything on his career, so he became a very famous portrait artist, in the same league as JoaquĆ­n Sorolla and John Singer Sargent. He painted three US presidents and many wealthy people, for a total of 550 portrait paintings. Besides painting with oils, he was actually a watercolor master. He created 300 etchings and some bronze sculptures as well. After his death in 1920, his wife donated all his artworks to the Swedish government and founded Zorn Museum in Mora, Sweden.

Zorn palette has very limited colors, including cadmium red, yellow ochre, ivory black and titanium white. In addition to this colors he used very small amount of blue and green, only when needed. Also alternated them with red and black variations. I prepared a chart with these colors to see the possibilities. I found incredible that there were so many warm and cool tones and these are great for portraits, still-life and landscape paintings (see pic below).

work in progress


After studying "Zorn Palette" I was ready to set my still-life composition. This time my main objects were bread, butter and butter knife. "Bread and butter" means; something that provides you with regular income, your job basically... It's symbolic way to express myself as a painter.

I toned the wood panel with acrylic blue color. I started to paint the structure of the composition with a dark tone color and laid the mid tones inside first. I created three sections of background using black, yellow ochre and white mixtures. Practicing "Alla Prima" oil painting technique I added darks and the highlights at the end (see pic below). 

work in progress

"Bread and butter" by Birsen Ozbilge
7" x 6", oil on wood panel.
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