Venetian Gold Original Colourised Goldpoint. 24k gold, pure silver, 24K gold leaf, 23.5K gold leaf, white gold leaf, watercolour and gouache 72cm x 52cm – SOLD
Original metalpoint drawing by ARC Living Master Gordon Hanley.
The background of the creation of Venetian Gold. The mask used for this artwork was created in a genuine mask workshop in Venice. It is the real thing. After a month or two of evaluation and multiple set-ups, I decided that I wasn’t too fond of either the shape of the face or the lips they chose for the original, so I substituted them for one of my most beautiful models – Nataliya – whose actual face forms the main part of the mask. Her eyes, so alluring and soulful, were perfect for such a visually arresting piece.
42 sheets of gold were used in this original, the most that I have used in any artwork. It was also one of the most complicated and technically challenging pieces that I have ever attempted. It began life as a drawing in 24K gold and pure silver on paper. At this stage, it would best be described as a pure metalpoint drawing, and it looked a black and white photograph of the finished artwork you see in front of you. It was then colourized using watercolour (red feather areas and the green cloak with black lace). Carbon was added to enhance the very dark areas, and I then worked over entire sheet with another layer of 24K gold metal, carefully avoiding the areas of pure white. The sheets of gold leaf were added next. These were mainly 24K, but 23.5K gold leaf and white gold leaf were also used.
This was the only way I had of achieving the effect I wanted: an artwork of startling realism drawn in precious metals combined with the rich opulence of colour and pure gold. Most of the gold that you see are the sheets of 24K gold leaf which were toned and shaded to render the 3-D effect present in the underlying drawing. 23.5K gold leaf is lighter and brighter than 24K gold. This was used in places where I wanted to emphasise areas of gold that were in brighter light – mainly on the gold braid and the gold loops where light stuck the subject. I also added it on the highlight areas of the facial mask decoration where the light caught the raised decorations in 24K gold to further enhance the 3-D effect.
For very bright highlights, I used two completely different techniques. The first involves the removal of all layers down to the white drawing ground without exposing the paper. I use this technique all the time in my Metalpoint drawings, and you can see this on the nose bridge and in the diamond-like twinkling between the loops of gold braid. The second method utilises white gold leaf and in this mask piece you can see it on the braid, loops and in the highest points on the gold decoration on the cheeks and forehead décor. It can also be seen in my dragonfly images that are on display in the gallery where I used either palladium leaf or white gold leaf – both of which are a silvery colour – to emphasise the highlights in the wings.
The white you see in the face and forehead is not white paint – it is the unpainted ground. This is the same technique I have used in my watercolours for the past 35 years and the same one I employ in my metalpoint drawings. The final act was to add the tiny cracks on the white plaster face which I rendered in pure silver metal.
It took many weeks to complete with an estimated easel time exceeding 200 hours. This does not include posing time for the model, the many alternative drawing versions needed to create the final composition, nor the original photography and post completion work that is involved in a major piece (publicity, interviews, articles and internet promotions).
There is nothing like this in the world of art.
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