Works in detail


This page details the processes and background in the forming of some of my artwork. Those detailed below benefit from a degree of background insight to help construct the atmosphere of the finished artwork.


Alice in gold’, 2010, water gilding on panel.

 ‘Alice in gold’ was produced using the age-old technique of water gilding; this labour intensive process delivers an almost unequalled quality. In the final stages, gold leaf is carefully applied and polished with a smooth agate burnisher. This work includes a variety of gold leaf from 14– 24 carat. white, lemon, yellow, rose, green, red, and moon gold.


Study in inert material II’, 2010, European oak.

The image on the left details the early stages in sculpting in the principle form. Right, the completed work.


Mer(e)’, 2007, French walnut carving’

Detailed here is a before and after image of the relief carving. In the left photograph I have sketched in the leafage within the hedge in the background and set in all the outlines of the elements. It takes considerable concentration to carve the illusion of depth and volume within the 8 mm depth of the original surface.


‘Gift of earth 1’, 2014, Painted gessoed panel with relief sculpture.

For this work I have included an iconic renaissance work this time Massaccio’s ‘Expulsion of Adam and Eve’, Brancacci Chapel, Florence. I have taken the flat painted surface of the original work and sculpted this into a relief form. Detailed here a few images of this process, the sculpting of a clay master, the resin plaster mould then taken from this, then finally a hard fine plaster casting taken from the mould to become part of the finished work.  As with ‘Gift of earth 2’ a collection of earth pigments were then painted over the work.


‘Gift of earth 2’, 2014, Painted gessoed panel with incised and relief sculpture.

 Takes its form from a small section of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling. I wanted to adopt the two hands, as a relief sculpture effectively pulling the flat plain of the original ceiling into three dimensional form. It occurred to me whilst first sculpting the hands in clay that I should contrast between God and Man by way of making one hand in relief from the surface and the other via incising into the surface effectively formed from the negative space or poetically, from the void. The hands I then cast from my clay originals using a plaster resin. As illustrated the substrate surface was then cubed and finally painted with an extensive array of earth pigments. Some of the earth pigments were available as top quality oil paints others I personally bound in oil, resins, and egg tempera.


‘Lapis lazuli sources’, 2014, Painted and coated gessoed panel

Lapis lazuli pigment was carefully extracted from the mineral gem stone. This famed ultramarine blue pigment of the renaissance had a value greater than gold and was highly prized by the artist. A synthetic version was however invented in the 19th century with variants subsequently developed including reddish and violet pigments.

Ingres ‘the source’ I wanted to build into the work via underpainting with a blue-black glaze.  In the finished work it can be seen with a limited clarity. I wanted its inclusion to be obscured, a residual part swamped with blue modulation almost adopting the neoclassical original with a modern pixelation.


‘Conduit I’,  2009, oil on board.

In this painting, I wanted a strong textural contrast between the figure and the surrounding sky. I achieved this  by carefully forming textures in the gesso ground, linear brush sweeps under the figure, a coarse particle texture for the surrounding negative space. The principle painting was then completed before adding small flecks of 24k gold leaf and applying genuine lapis lazuli into the textural sky area.


Conduit II’, 2009, oil on canvas.

I was pleased with the finished painting yet found photographic reproductions unable to detect its complexity in kinetic brushwork or colouration. Included here is a close up detail.


Making the artists materials.

I frequently assemble and produce my own materials. This often includes the making of my own paints. Handmade processes deliver the ultimate in appreciation of the individual nature of art materials, especially colour . It also affords the opportunity to include archaic and rare pigments; many have been used from ancient times. I have recently included lapis lazuli (dark), malachite, carmine, rose madder, green earth, and burnt grapevine black to name a few. 


Textural elements.

Tradition takes an important role in my creative output. I utilise an extensive range of traditional techniques and materials to compose the results, I consider if textural elements can be cultivated to etch a further energy into the work, including the paint itself with impasto application.

‘Road’ the painting I have illustrated here uses my own mixture of marble gesso, various mesh grades of genuine white marble are used to give the required gesture of effect to the ground before paint is applied.

All Images & Content © 2010 Paul Mowbray