Roman Isis – WIP

aka Adventures with New Techniques. 

Tam Lin by Wylie Beckert
Tam Lin by Wylie Beckert

It all began a few months ago when I stumbled across this painting of Tam Lin. I’ve always had something of a soft spot for that particular tale, and the painting was so striking that I just had to track down the artist who turned out to be Wylie Beckert. I have to admit that I became a little obsessed with her work and spent hours pouring over her YouTube videos, studying her updates on Facebook etc. On her website she has a number of pages that detail the way she works – generally a solid underdrawing, watercolour & acrylic ink underpainting and then oil glazes over the top.

I decided to give this a try on a smaller scale with a postcard. I sketched out a drawing of a Romanized Isis, based off a statue found in the Villa Adriana and now housed in the Capitoline Museum.

Roman Isis WIP Sketching by Bronwen MacDonald
Roman Isis WIP Sketching

Once I had the rendered sketch done, I sealed it with three thin layers of half matte medium and half water mixture. I used a simple spritz bottle for this. I was worried that it wouldn’t get completely coverage of the image but after three rounds everything was well sealed. After that I went ahead and used watercolour paints to work out my basic colours. Unfortunately I forgot to get a photo of that stage. Sorry! I’ll do my best to remember for next time. When the watercolours were dry, I worked in the highlights with a white pencil then sealed everything with another three layers of medium.

Then came the fun part! Oils are a medium that I have never really gotten along with. I have never liked impasto look and the last time I tried to thin my paints I used too much turpentine. This ended up with Van Dyke Brown drips across my entire painting one day when I pushed too hard. I very much wanted to put a knife through the canvas at that point and toss all my oils straight into the trash. Thankfully I didn’t. This time I remembered to use the oil to thin the paints and gosh, what a difference. Everything was so smooth and went onto the paper in beautifully transparent layers.

Roman Isis WIP First Oils by Bronwen MacDonald
Roman Isis WIP First Oils

I left it to dry and came back to it after a week to put in the last glazes. It’s not a great photo because I took it with my iPad, but as soon as the original dries properly I’ll put up a better scan of it.

Roman Isis by Bronwen MacDonald
Roman Isis

All in all, I am incredibly pleased with how this little piece turned out. This technique is definitely something that I am going to keep working with in the future so hopefully we can look forward to bigger and better oil paintings. If you have any questions feel free to ask away.