Thursday, May 19, 2016

Terry Nelson's latest Venerable Matt Talbot painting

Terry describes his third (but not his last) attempt to "capture" Matt Talbot on canvas. Thank you, Terry.



Matt Talbot
T. Nelson 2016

I finished the Talbot painting - almost, I have some more glazing to do, shading - but the figure and composition is pretty much finished.  I hope to frame it importantly.  I did a quick 'fuzzy' shot of the canvas, as shown above.  It came off a bit too light.

I read that he was an 'undersized, wiry man,' and a laborer.  I read he wore his working clothes everywhere - so I imagined a jacket and collarless shirt, a bit worn - just as I always depict him.  The difference this time is that I have him balding more than in my other paintings.  There are a couple of early paintings, one by a religious sister, depicting him bald, and I wanted to do so as well.  My composition is spare - a few religious mementos and scraps of paper, upon which it is said Matt would make spiritual notes - a small statue of Our Lady of Lourdes and holy cards of Therese and Catherine of Siena comprise the 'still life' on the mantel.  Above these, a very small image of OL of Perpetual Help hanging by a string.  Matt stands in front of the tall, narrow tenement mantel, upon which these poor possessions are displayed.  Interrupted in his devotion, clutching a crucifix, he looks out at the viewer.

As I painted, I had in mind a young Irish man I had met at Lourdes years ago.  He wasn't very tall either - but a handsome man, and something about him reminded me of how Matt might have been at the time of his conversion.  I tried to imagine him in his 60's now, and made a sort of composite of images of Matt Talbot and my recollection of the man from Lourdes.  The face developed rather quickly.  The paint is quite thin - not as layered as I normally would paint - and suddenly this face appeared, which startled me.  I don't know how I did it, where it came from, or how it came together so swiftly.

Anyway.  Quirky as it is, this is my third attempt to paint venerable Matt Talbot.