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Raphael’s Process for Painting

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Raphael’s Process for Painting
August 6, 2014

Raphael’s Process for Painting
Italian painter Raffaello Sanzio (1483-1520), or "Raphael", was a painter that lived during the High Renaissance period and was greatly influenced by Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael are considered one of the three great painters of their time. Although you may know Raphael by the beautiful paintings he produced, he particularly gave great importance to his drawings. It did not matter to Raphael whether it was for preparing the work for future canvases or other works of art. Raphael is famous for the perfect elegance and three-dimensional space in his paintings. He planned his art work out by drawing them first before he started painting.
During the early years, Raphael used pen and ink to draw out his artwork. Using pen and ink was based on the influence by Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo which both used pen and ink. Sometime during his early drawings he switched to black chalk. In his later works, he started using red chalk. He found that it can be sharpened to a hard point and handled like a stylus. Paintings during Raphael's time are quite different than today's paintings. Raphael used what was called Quattrocento painting, which was Italian and referred to the late Middle Ages or early Renaissance. Raphael had to combine standard mixtures to create colors for landscape, such as blues for skies and greens for vegetation. He also used materials that were not associated with Quattrocento in order to express intense blues of skies in a painting as an example. Although the canvas itself is in the Florentine style, many of the elements of his paintings reflects a Roman influence. "For example, the figures of the Madonna and Child are joined by that of the infant John the Baptist in natural poses, instead of more traditional icon-like figures" (Zibas, 2014, The Alba Madonna by Raphael, para 6).
Raphael is considered one of the finest draftsmen in the history when it comes to western art, by using his drawings to plan out his compositions. As a draftsman, Raphael would prepare his paintings in advance on paper. He would use his capability to draw different renderings that helped him refine his poses and compositions. He was able to do this to a greater extent than most other painters of that time. Raphael drew so he could study the individual or group figures, as well as the details like the feet, limbs, landscape and head. Most of Raphael's drawings are rather precise. He did not just draw just one rendering of his proposed painting; he would often draw many before he started painting. Raphael also would use a grid pattern that would allow him to increase the size of the drawing in preparation for putting it on canvas.
What set Raphael, and his drawings apart are the amount of focus and compassion in how he drew. The human figures he drew are a standard of anatomical study. It is not surprising, based on the fact that Raphael was one of the earliest artists to use women as models. That was in a day and age where men were commonly used as the models.
What is Raphael trying to convey through his painting? The main focus for most of Raphael's paintings is Christianity. By Raphael focusing on a Christian theme, he is obviously not rejecting the importance of God during this period. He utilizes some of the key values of the Renaissance period in his paintings such as humanism, ethics, reason and human fulfillment. His paintings also do not convey the value of strict separation of the state from religious institutions because the focal point directly introduces a religious element. Raphael's paintings also effectively convey realism to a point. He demonstrates this by its subjects within the painting being anatomically correct. He does this by the use of colors and making the landscape appear as they would in real life. However, the painting also conveys perfectionism because the people in the painting are portrayed without any physical blemishes. Raphael did this by making perfect slight physical shifts on the subjects that make them appear to have no physical flaws.
Drawing is applied to works that vary greatly in the technique of the artist. It has been understood in different ways that, depending on the period in time; it is difficult to define what the artist is thinking without a written history. During the Renaissance, the term 'disegno' implied drawing both as a technique that is different from coloring and as the idea expressed in a preliminary sketch. Many creative artists have stressed that drawing was important for their work. Drawing has demonstrated its enduring importance when it comes to painting from the present day all the way back to the 15th century.

Zibas, C. (2014, May 30). The Alba Madonna by Raphael.
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