This week I’ve been working on writing a large article about painting for beginners. I haven’t finished it yet. This week I’d like to publish an update about my art updates and my current works in progress. This article will contain photographs of my work in progress, so they not professionally shot.

My Art Update: Michael the Archangel

Some of you who have been following my art for a long while, know that I’ve been working on this piece for over a year. I think my Instagram followers have become exasperated by my long obsession over this piece.

I started this last year as an experiment to explore the process of Caravaggio. And I drew inspiration from Rafael’s painting of Michael the Archangel.

Caravaggio used a technique known as chiaroscuro. Chiaroscuro, in art, is the use of strong contrasts between light and dark. So when I first started this piece that was my goal.

I discovered that Caravaggio would use a combination of Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Sienna to create his black color. And that he would often paint the entire painting with a lighter brown.

My first step as always is to do a drawing. I decided that I wanted to paint with oils on paper, so I chose to do my drawing on the same piece of watercolor paper I would be using to paint on.

My Art Updates Michael the Archangel Seth Keller Art
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I stretched my watercolor paper using water, and taped it to my desk. And I then applied three coats of matte medium. The matte medium is to protect the paper from the oil paint. If you painted directly onto the paper with oil paint, the oil would destroy your paper!

Next I toned the entire background with burnt umber. A neat trick I learned is that you can lift out oil paint using kneaded erasers, just like you can with graphite. Make sure that you use a designated eraser for oil paint. You don’t want to use an oily eraser on your drawings.

The picture below shows how you can indicate light by lifting out the paint.

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Then I added white, and the black I created by mixing Ultramarine Blue and Raw Sienna. I was stunned by the rich quality of the black. By the way , you have to wait for each layer to dry, before adding new applications of paint, this is why it took me so long to finish this piece.

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After that layer is completely dry then I began adding transparent colors on top

Progress Shot Michael the Archangel Oil Painting Seth Keller
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The end result was incredibly vibrant, and not at all like a Caravaggio piece, but that’s okay this was an experiment that turned out very well in it’s own right. I plan on including this piece in my Humanism series.

The last step in this painting will be to add glossy varnish and remove the tape and put it in a frame. I always recommend framing artwork that is on paper because of the delicate nature of paper.

My Art Update Seth Keller Portfolio Oil Painting on Paper 14.5"x10.5"
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Venus Binds Passion

The latest piece I’ve started in my Humanist series is based on Poliziano’s epic poem called The Stanze.

It discusses the many concepts related to the nature of love. Botticelli drew inspiration from Poliziano as he created his paintings. Like Poliziano he drew from contemporary figures to create his art, as well as past artists. Read about his work in my other article. And by checking out this book on The Stanze.

In my series I’m still debating on whether or not to do this.

Somehow it would seem profane to paint Taylor Swift, or some other star, as Venus. Wouldn’t it? Although humanism, as it was applied during the Italian Renaissance, drew classical figures in contemporary settings this tradition has been lost. And I’m still grappling with this side of humanism. Are any modern stars or famous people worthy of being considered the epitome of Love?

Maybe in the future I’ll do a painting with Kim Kardashian as Hera and Kanye West as Zeus. Just Kidding. I’ll write more about this in my next art update.

Botticelli drew from contemporary figures when he painted his paintings. It is said that Venus in the Birth of Venus is modeled after Simonetta Vespucci who was fabled to be the most beautiful woman in Florence. So likewise I have taken up the humanist tradition by using Botticelli’s Venus in my painting, en lieu of Kim Kardashian.

Humanist use the works of other artists to recapitulate the concept or figure. In this case, I’m recapitulating the concepts of Love represented by Venus in both Poliziano’s work and Botticelli.

Artwork Updates Seth Keller Venus Binds Passion
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This drawing is going to be used as my blueprint. The Painting is going to be large indeed. Larger than any painting I have done in the past. This is very exciting to me. This canvas is 62″x70″.

My Canvas Ready to be painted. My Art Update
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The Precipice of Knowledge

The Precipice of Knowledge is still a work in progress. I’m currently waiting for the last layer of paint to dry. I’m working on getting the water just right and the skin tones realistic.

This piece represents all of humanity balanced on time itself represented by the spiral shell.

I continue to feel that humanity is on the verge of something new and great, and I hope that it is a return to humanism and a neoplatonic version of love.

The figure is not representative of any one person, but rather all of humanity. Please feel free to read more about this piece here.

Art Progress The Precipice of Knowledge
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My Art Update Conclusion

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. Please feel free to share on Facebook and Twitter. Please comment if you’d like to add anything that you find interesting about art. Check out my other works on my portfolio.

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