Sunday, February 1, 2015

Sketching the Madonna and Child

I have been looking at lots of  Madonna and Child paintings and doing quick sketches of them, trying to capture the gesture and basic proportions. It has been good fun, and I think my eye and understanding are improving.

This watercolor is by Frederico Barocci (1528-1612) and is being sold on Christies. I like the lightness and homeyness of this image, different from the more opulent, idealized and majestic Madonna images of the High Renaissance.


This painting of Mary, baby Jesus and the young John the Baptist is by Carlo Maratta (1625-1713) and can be found at I don't like how the colors seem yellowed and faded, but I like very much the contentment, kindness, trust and good cheer on all the faces. I especially like the bright, confiding look of little John the Baptist.

Here is a very rough and messy sketch for what will most likely be a colored pencil drawing, though I'm daydreaming about paint. It's just that colored pencils are so convenient, so easy to pick up and put down, no waiting for anything to dry. I hope that in the finished piece Mary's face will have some of the sweetness and delicacy that I love in the paintings above.

The oval will be partly bordered by fawn lilies, an early spring wildflower where I live, rising above dead oak leaves. I found this picture of one with oak leaves and everything at the Prairie Research Institute.


  1. This is probably a comment on my awe at your art, Melissa, but I thought the title picture for this blog post was your art :) You've done a beautiful job with this, in Jesus, MB

  2. Funny. But I hope to make such lovely images someday.