I discovered encaustic paintings (Fayum portraits) many years ago at the British Museum in London and was always tempted to imagine that I could come to know these individuals by staring into their overly large eyes. Even though it is obvious that many of these portraits were produced by the same artist/workshop and are often variations on a facial theme, I am still entranced by their direct gazes.
I wanted to paint a contemporary portrait that incorporated many of the same devices used by these 2000-year-old artists: a tetrachromy palette* (4 colors), relatively flat lighting with a soft light source from the right, details in the hair etched into the encaustic surface and large eyes that gaze directly at the viewer. Unlike the Fayum portraits, her face is painted primarily with oil stick - using fingers and brushes. The next series of portraits will embrace all of the ancient techniques - with all their challenges - and hopefully I will be able to capture the same immediacy and charm as the ancients did.
(* Tetrachromy palette: white (either lead or chalk), black (bluish black from charred vines), yellow ochre, and red ochre. ) Click this link for more reading on the Fayum portraits.