Mary Magdalen and John the Baptist

These are watercolor/gouache studies for a large scale oil painting designed for St. Thomas Aquinas in Zanesville, Ohio.  Mary Magdalen is finished in oil so far, John the Baptist is still in progress.  The pastor had the idea for the project–to create a reredos in the sanctuary picturing all dominican saints.  The two closest to the tabernacle were St. John and St. Mary Magdalen, considered to be the first preachers of Christ, which is relevant because the dominicans are called the order of preachers.

For this watercolor effect I tried doing a very detailed high-contrast underpainting in burnt umber then spray fixing it.  Then I could wash the red ochre over top and retain the rendering.  I use spray fix a lot with watercolor to get the same contrast and color you can get with oil washes.  The only bad thing is the fixative can create a mat film on top of a thick layer of gouache, or several layers of watercolor so I never use it as a final top layer.

I will update at a later time with the final oil paintings.

2 comments for “Mary Magdalen and John the Baptist

  1. November 21, 2017 at 11:51 am

    Wow, Bernadette, so beautiful! Thank you for posting. It really inspires me to try and improve my drawing/painting skills.

    Regarding your technique. Just incredible. (sorry to gush.) Here is a thought…since you are using acrylic sealer anyway, you might want to consider using FW daler acrylic ink. It behaves very much like watercolor but you can keep your layers intact. What size are these images?

    I can’t wait to see the oil versions. God bless you as you undertake such important work.


  2. November 22, 2017 at 9:53 pm

    Thank you Theodore! I hadn’t thought of trying acrylic ink, thank you for the suggestion. These two are about 18″ tall.


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