Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Detail of the Upper Hieroglyphs

Here is a detail of the upper hieroglyphs.

The hawk had quite a few details - it has all of its feathers so beautifully carved you wouldn't believe. I used a magnifying glass to count them, but in the end I may have missed a feather or two. I mean I just didn´t have a paint brush small enough - try to see those tiny little feathers on the upper side of the right wing. And all that squinting might have caused me the headache in the end.

You see when I really forget myself into a painting, I don´t notice how time passes. I may start in daylight and then suddenly realize there isn´t enough light anymore. I do have a very bright work lamp - a good thing when I remember to use it...

What never ceases to amaze me is the level of detail these ancient artist could produce! Just imagine carving all this into stone - taking into consideration so many things. Straight lines, the depth of the carving, all those tiny little details... I really am in awe with their skills.

Upper hieroglyphs

I was going to paint the whole area on the right of Cleopatra including the cartouches, but had a bit of a headache, so this is how far I got this time.

You can see I paint from left to right. The reason for this is that I am right handed and this is oil paint and I don't want to smudge the already painted area with my hand.

Dendera is situated about 60 km north of Luxor.

I visited it with my husband in 2005 - we left early in the morning on a cruise ship. It was quite a surprise how cold it was at 7 am when the boat left - the staff gave us thick towels to use as blankets.

Dendera itself is a very old place of worship - shrines were built there from the earliest dynasties onwards. The present temple comes from the Ptolemaic age, with Roman additions and it is one of the best preserved temples in Egypt.

A beautiful place, well worth a visit!!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Cleopatra's wig

Here you can see a detail of Cleopatra's head (I´ll probably work on it later again). Cleopatra wears a tripartite wig and a head-dress with several uraei, a solar disk between cow's horns and double plumes.

It is true that often the nobility shaved their heads and used wigs. This was also a question of hygiene - head lice were quite a nuisance then - evidence of them can be found in mummies.

The royal wigs were pieces of art. Often the wigs were made of real human hair and braided in many styles.

Painting this wig was quite a lot of work. I´ll attach here a little snapshot of the details. You may guess I use a miniature brush...

The process was so time consuming and difficult I sometimes felt like throwing the brushes to our cats who very much would have wanted to play hockey with them.

But here is the detail of the wig behind Cleopatra's shoulder.

Ancient Egyptian Art

I did wonder what to call this blog, but maybe it was too easy...

I have loved anything Egypt since I was a child. I dreamt of studying Egyptology but it was not possible here where I live.

I have a full time job and studying during the daytime hours was not possible. But then, one day, I realized that in this time and age there simply had to be possible to study online. I did some research and found the Manchester University's Certificate of Egyptology course. I applied - and to my never ending surprise and joy I got in!

I am now waiting for my first year of studies to start.

I´ve been to Egypt once, and took many photos in the Luxor area. Out of these I chose the Dendera Temple to do my first ancient Egyptian painting.

The scene in question is from the back wall of the Dendera temple: Cleopatra and her son Cesarion making offerings to Osiris, Isis and Harsiesis.

To get this far I have used many hours - painting those tiny hieroglyphs sure takes time! And to make the stone look like stone... Oh dear. This is an oil painting and oil paint is... well - oily!

And stone is not. Do the math.

Cleopatra's hair/wig nearly drove me to desperation. I must have been staring at my photo for fifteen minutes to finally see what was the idea, how the wig was made. And then to make those teeny tiny details...

This is a grisaille painting which means that I do the underpainting in grayish tones and then layer very thin layers of paint on top to find the final color.

Welcome to follow the process!