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' of minutia 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.