Sunday, October 25, 2009

Caesarion's arm a bit closer

This photo perhaps shows the differences in the "skin". Cleopatra's skin is smooth, Caesarion's filled with tiny chisel marks.

Caesarion's right arm

This morning I painted Caesarion's right arm.

It is interesting to see the difference between their arms: Cleopatra's are smooth, on Caesarion's you can see the chisel marks clearly. The theory that there was plaster on top of the stone would make sense. These little holes would make the plaster stick better...

Men were usually painted with red skin, women with yellowish. As the stone in Dendera is yellow on its own, maybe the stone was already of the right color to depict Cleopatra's skin color? So no need to plaster and paint her arms?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Cleopatra and Caesarion a bit closer

Here are Cleopatra and Caesarion a bit closer.

Did you know Caesarion's real name was Ptolemy XV Philopator Philometor Caesar? Caesarion was a kind of a nickname.

Philopator means "father-loving" and Philometor of course "mother-loving".

Caesarion's face

Today I painted Caesarion's face for three hours. I had one sharp(ish) reference photo, but the light came from the opposite angle than in my own reference photo. You can imagine how it felt... I had to look at the pic with a magnifying glass to see what was causing the shadows and then imagine what kind of a shadow this "obstacle" would cast to the other direction. My own picture really could give only a rough idea.

And once it was more or less finished, I compared it to Cleopatra's face and noticed the shadows were way too deep in Caesarion. So back to the old easel... I admit I did try to give the boy some personality - the original carving has these tiny chisel marks all over the face, basically disfiguring it (in the sharp light that was casting strong shadows it looked like he had a severe case of acne...)

Caesarion's nose looks a bit "undefined" yet, but will become clearer once I paint the stone to the right - it will cast a shadow agaist his face.

He also has this gaping hole in the wall right under his jaw / ear. So at the moment his figure is a bit of a sorry sight, really.

Mother and Son Up Close

Made one more zoom to the faces of Cleopatra and Caesarion - even when his face isn't quite finished.

Their eyes were suprisingly dark in the reference photo I took myself - probably carved pretty deeply to begin with.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Detail of Caesarions Crown

Caesarion's crown(s) a bit closer. The photo is on the yellow side - taken in artificial light at 10 pm.

If the pharaohs really did wear such crowns they had to walk very carefully or else their "hat" would surely have fallen off... Or perhaps they just sat there and someone placed the crown on their heads. And then they just tried not to move... LOL

Caesarion's Crown

It was time to start painting Caesarion. He is wearing the crown of Egypt - or two crowns really; the crowns of Upper and Lower Egypt. Together they symbolized that the pharaoh ruled the two lands - Egypt. Or Kemet (black land) as the ancient Egyptians themselves called their country.

The crown of Upper Egypt is the one that looks like a bowling pin. If it was colored here, it would be white.

The crown of Lower Egypt (the Delta) is the one surrounding the white crown. And it would be red.

In the famous Narmer palette you see the pharaoh wearing the crown of Upper Egypt on one side and the crown of Lower Egypt on the other side.

Caesarion has the ram's horns attached to the crown

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Closeup of Glyphs around Cleopatra

Here is a closeup of the glyphs surrounding Cleopatra's body One of the stones right at her knee-level seems to have been taken out of the wall in the past. (Some ancient robbers perhaps?)

Cleopatra All Done

Today I decided to paint the hieroglyphs on the right of Cleopatra, down to the soles of her feet. I wanted to define her figure, to use the shadows in the stone to bring her "out" of the stone.

I did not paint quite all of the hieroglyphs - there is a row on the right still. But had I started to paint that row, it would have taken me the whole day to finish.

It took me four hours to do this thin strip of stone. Hopefully I managed to make it look "stony" enough.

So next I will be moving on the Caesarion. He looks like an interesting project! I will be painting him from head to toe and then add the rest of the hieroglyphs between him and his mother.

Monday, October 5, 2009


Here's a closeup of the part I painted yesterday. Such a small space, yet it took almost three hours to finish.

You can see there are deep shadows on the stone above Cleopatra's hands. Painting shadows is not a straight-forward thing.

First of all I never use black. I have done the whole painting so far with blue and brown and white.

Shadows very seldom are black, if they are caused by the sun. Also shadows in themselves have light in them. When we talk about Egypt, the midday sun is so strong it is reflected back fromt he ground as well. And so these shadows here also reflect light from the ground.

(Oh, just noticed the upmost seam between the stones looks like it isn't straight. I must have helt the camera at an angle - in reality it is more or less straight.)

Space Under the Cartouches

Today I painted part of the stone wall on the right of Cleopatra. The lower part of the sistrum in her hand was almost destroyed, the upper part was more or less intact.

It took me almost three hours to do the little spot underdeath the cartouches. Stone is not easy to paint...

I read an interesting detail from Joyce Tyldesley's excellent book "Cleopatra - Last Queen of Egypt". There it is written about this scene that it was started year 30 BC, when both Cleopatra and Cesarion died. So the work was actually continued under the rule of Octavian who wanted to destroy all the images of Cleopatra?

So far I have used about 30 hours into this painting. I must be mad... LOL :D

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Here I paint away...

Hubby took a picture of yours truly, just as I started painting the hieroglyphs on the right of Cleopatra. This is my work room. We just moved so the only thing I have there is the easel (and the book shelf). And some cardboard boxes, cough cough...

(Yes, I know - I´d better get to emptying them soon or else in a year's time I'll still be having cardboard boxes around...)

Today I am reading "An Account of Egypt" by Herodotus as part of my Egyptology studies. Lets see if I find time to paint a bit also.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Detail of the Cartouches

Vincent mentioned in an earlier comment he likes to see details of the painting, so I´ll be posting those.

Here are the two cartouches between Cleopatra and Cesarion. Interestingly the lions were hacked away, as well as some bird figures (Hawks? I´m only learning the basics of hieroglyphs so I don´t have the expertise to tell the answer myself).

How to paint those tiny chisel marks again was an interesting thing to do. The destroyed area shows the shape of the original hieroglyph well, but still it needed to look "destroyed". I wonder if the hacking in question was done when Octavian wanted images of Cleopatra destroyed? I wonder if anyone knows?

I realized the shapes of the cartouches are not quite oval, but that happens when you paint with free hand using a brush. Oil paint is a bit tricky. You need to have it wet enough so that the brush leaves an even line on the canvas, but if you use paint that is too thin, you'll just end up adding more paint over the already painted area. And if the paint is a bit too thick, it spreads unevenly, especially when you use miniature brushes. It sort of clumps on the bristles.

Well - next I´ll be moving down so I get the stone done on the right of Cleopatra.

I have a slight problem with the tiny hieroglyphs on the left of Cleopatra - and also between Cleopatra and Cesarion. My reference photos aren't quite as sharp as they should. But I might get better pics - someone is travelling to Egypt and might be able to go to Dendera and take such photos for me I could use. If so, I'll be giving full credit to my "photo-assistant" :)

Cartouches on the right of Cleopatra

Two and a half hours went into the two cartouches on the right of Cleopatra. After that I went to see the news and rest my eyes (and shoulders).

When I came back I noticed I´ll probably need to work on the cartouches a bit more, but I´ll leave them for now. Once the underpainting is all done, I´ll then redefine the light and shadows of the whole painting to make it more unified.

The cartouche is an "oval" or an oblong enclosure that surrounds the names of rulers in hieroglyphic texts..