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Nefertiti, Goddess of Light, October 2023

As I mentioned in the article about the Summer Seminar 2023, Nefertiti is a spiritual guide who has appeared in my inner journeys. She is a healer who bears light in her hands and heals with a simple touch. The Queen is an open-hearted being, tender and gentle, who listens deeply and knows my heart and mind better than I do. When I have doubts, she encourages me. Whenever I look at this portrait, it is like a door opens: she's there, on the other side, a mirror-image speaking to me. Nefertiti teaches me so much, and I still have a lot to learn from her.

Since I began with a bust of Nefertiti, I purposely retained some of her sculpted features, which might look a bit stiff. But, to me, it shows her benevolence, which stands out every time I look at her. I didn’t want to paint an exact copy of Nefertiti’s bust from the Neues Museum in Berlin. Instead, I wanted to let the brush flow and guide me as I allowed her own essence to speak to me while painting. A few people see a touch of my own features in her face. We always put a part of ourselves into what we’re painting, often without realizing it. That’s just a natural part of the process…

For me, the process of painting began with the background. I laid down a wet layer of Burnt Umber and played around with a plastic bag to give it texture - a process called decalcomania. Then, working with oils in Titanium White, I started building up the volumes of the face, studying a black and white photocopy of the bust as a model. During that step, I spontaneously decided to give her real eyes with color. Then, little by little, I built up the face and the neck by glazing with Raw Sienna and Transparent Orange Oxide to liven up the shadows, while bringing back the whites and glazing her dress and crown with a mixture of Ultramarine Blue, Phthalocyanine Blue and Titanium White. Next, I mixed up a yellow egg tempera with Golden Ochre pigment. That became the first halo around her head, which can be seen in the slide show.

Then, Daniel Mirante gave me some wonderful rich gold bronze from Schmincke, which I mixed with his medium and re-painted the halo, while outlining the jewels in the necklace. For the jewels, I used Alizarin Crimson, Phthalo Blue and Viridian Green - all transparent colors, which I applied in several layers with a touch of Titanium White between each layer. The feathers in the Egytian style, as well as the poppy and lotus flowers, came about in the final stages. Towards the end, I decided to unify the background, and added the cartouche with hieroglyphs of the name Nefertiti and, as a final touch, painted a red line in Alizarin Crimson around the halo to give it an extra glow.

I brought the piece to near-completion during the 2023 Summer Seminar at Torri Superiore, and finished it in my studio in Burgundy France.

I only realized, after I’d finished the piece that I had combined the Egyptian style with the polychromed gold of Byzantine icons (especially in the halo), while adding extra touches my own style, of course… If you visit My Gallery, you’ll find a little poem I wrote while making my painting Nefertiti - Goddess of Light. As she did for me, I hope she brings to you a lot of love and kindness into your life.

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