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Researching and Sketching

I've been scouring the internet for medieval manuscripts of the subject matter I'm going to paint for the Apocalypse Prize.  My first painting will be of the Woman Clothed with the Sun from Revelation chapter 12.  I want to include the battle between St. Michael and the Dragon as well.  Here are a few manuscripts that inspired me:

St. Michael and his angels battling the Dragon by Pacino de Buonaguida, Florence, 1340 A.D.

The Cloisters Apocalypse, Normandy, 1330 A.D.

The Woman Clothed with the Sun, Cloisters Apocalypse, Normandy, 1330 A.D.

The Woman Clothed with the Sun, MS Paris 403, France, 1250 A.D.

Next, the way I begin to sketch out the layout involves dividing up the plane using the armature of the rectangle.  Basically, connecting the midpoint of each side with the opposite corner gives you a framework for building a harmonious composition based on proportional intervals. See how I've use the intersections to determine where the image divides into thirds and quarters?

Since I make a lot of mistakes and erasures and I didn't want to lose my composition lines I decided to draw the rest on layers of tracing paper.  Here are the major divisions of the piece in terms of space...heaven, sky, earth, hell:

Next, the Woman, who simultaneously represents the prophecy from Genesis 3:15, The Blessed Virgin Mary giving Birth to Our Lord, and The Church giving life to the Christian soul:

Finally the angels and the seven-headed dragon:  The dragon pulls 1/3 of the stars from the heavens. Also, tucked into the upper left corner, the temple opened and the ark of the covenant revealed (From the last verse of Revelation 11) which I spotted in some of the manuscripts.  I'm thinking the dragon is a bit large, so I'll scale him down a little in the final piece.

 The next stage will be to take some photo references using models, work up some detailed sketches of the figures, and draw the layout to scale to be transferred onto the actual work surface.  Then I'll get to actually paint it!