Robert Pavon

Sinful Nature

Senior Project April 2014


The idea of sin is something that is popular in today’s culture. In fact it has been a popular theme for hundreds of years. Looking back at the old masters one can see the intense interest in sin and sinful acts. Many artworks of the past revolved around the depiction of sin and its consequences. Sin does not always revolve around religious beliefs but rather they are a set of activities looked down upon because of their potential to hurt rather than help a society. You do not need a religion to know when something is socially unacceptable. The sinful nature of our species is something I find fascinating, maybe this is because I am human and commit sin on a daily basis. Maybe it is because of the frustration we feel about not being able to live up to such high standards set by others or ourselves.

What I finally decided to depict in my paintings is choice. I believe ultimately that sin is a choice just like any other part of our lives. Although I found the idea of sin more interesting to depict than say the opposite of sin which is virtue. I felt that this was too confining and probably very overdone. Virtues are something I had a hard time finding references on which was discouraging as it made me feel as though we are so consumed by our sinful ways that this is the only thing we understand. I am telling a story of the choices and emotions we feel when faced by these choices. I tried to put on canvas my own personal views of how I feel and think others might feel about a given choice. I also did not take the easy route and what I felt was the boring route in my composition. The route I took with my depictions pays homage to the masters of the past and present by the use of symbolism with nudes. The heavy use of nude forms harks back to renaissance artist like Michelangelo and Da Vinci. I felt that the naked truth over which we all as a society are faced with should be reflected by the nakedness of the human form.

I like to work in layers when I paint and usually wet on wet. This is a common form of painting where one uses layers called glazes of thin paint to get the color you want. I always start with a black and white graphite sketch. I go over that sketch with charcoal to darken it and add values by smudging it with my fingers. I take the drawing to a very finished state because I use it as my grisaille. Some grisailles are done in paint but I find that this technique is much faster and just as good. I then fix the drawing with final fixative so it will not smudge when paint is applied. I follow that with a thin wash to the background and a thin wash of burnt sienna and a touch of alizarin crimson for the flesh. Using a dry blender brush I go over the flesh and even it out. This will also remove excess paint from the flesh. I do these washes in acrylic so it will dry fast. I then place a fan in front of the painting to speed up drying time. Two hours later I apply the darks and mid tones to the head, blending as I go to smooth out the brush strokes. I work only in small areas leaving them finished before I move on. For mid tones I use yellow ochre, vermilion, white, and a touch of black. For the lights I use vermilion with white and yellow ochre with white. These two highlights are placed while paint is wet and blended in. At the second sitting I repeat the process or only apply the highlights that were obliterated in the last step.

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