by Donato

I am waist deep getting paintings ready for IlluxCon next weekend, but thought I’d share some thoughts on painters I have been inspired by as I tackle my tragedies in Middle-Earth.

One of the greatest, and somewhat little known, is Jusepe de Ribera (1591-1652). His work was heavily inspired by Caravaggio during his lifelong stay in Italy. If I had to live in another past as a painter, I would certainly select the early 17th Century, for the world was filled with some of the painters I most admire, such as Ribera and Caravaggio, but which also included Rembrandt, Velazquez and Rubens. What an incredible time to be an artist!

What I love about Ribera is the tragic and humanistic nature to his paintings, a characterization also shared by his famous contemporary, Diego Velazquez. Ribera’s figures are gritty, real, and human. He idealized little in his works, and was best when his saints feel like they are culled from the very streets of the city you and I can walk. Certainly he took from Caravaggio’s example and did just that- pulled models from the streets. He is unparalleled in his rendering of the flesh, and the rough close up provides just a taste of what he could do with his specialty. Much like Bouguereau was cast into his genre of young peasant girls, Ribera mastered again and again the boney, sagging and breath taking frailty of wizened old men.

Every time I tackle a Gandalf portrait, I put on my Ribera hat and see where it will take me…