Thursday, January 5, 2012

Joan of Arc

By Donato

600 years ago this year, Joan of Arc was born in a small town in France. Little did her parents realize that she would become one of the most famous women in all of human history. What makes this more remarkable is that her deeds span just two short years, from the arrival at the court of Charles VI at age 17 to her martyrdom at the burning stake in 1431. Her military campaign against the English and Burgundians encompassed just a single year!

What makes Joan interesting for me is not just her deeds in unifying her countrymen, but also her integrity as a person of belief, strength and drive. As the father of two girls, I relish the chance to point to such role models and state 'See what you can do?!'

The desire to create a work of art about Joan has been playing itself out periodically in my sketchbook ever since a visit to France over a decade ago (Thank you Wizards of the Coast for sending me to exotic realms to sign at Magic tournaments!) Thus when we were preparing to create another step by step film on my painting process back in May, the subject of Joan of Arc was front and center as the number one choice for the painting. Really there wasn't even a runner up - I know it had to be a work on the Maid of Orleans.

From the very beginning I wanted to create a work which illuminated the complexities of the politics into which Joan was cast. It was a turbulent time in France in the early 15th Century, Henry the V has just decimated the French at Agincourt and King Charles was one of the weakest rulers in decades. The identity of a French nation was still not solidified with the Burgundians casting their lot with the English. The Church felt threatened from the new nation states and were ever watchful for heretical movements which could undermine its authority. How to put all that into one painting?

You can't, but you can suggest what might be at play.

I am happy to announce that I have posted the results to my website and have included a few extra progress shots and details of the work here. As I have done in recent works for commercial commissions, it was my intent to use ambiguity to stress the complexities of the political forces which shaped Joan of Arc.

Are we here at her moment of triumph at Orleans embraced by a sympathetic French Nobleman? Or at her capture outside of Compiegne a little over a year later by the Burgundians? Is the Clergyman bowing in awe and prayer, or attempting to strip Joan of the symbol of her Faith? Is that arm supporting the banner, or pulling it down?

As the artist, even I do not know the answers, as we may never know the intent of others. All we may do is act upon our own beliefs in what we feel is right:
One life is all we have and we live it as we believe in living it. But to sacrifice what you are and to live without belief, that is a fate more terrible than dying.
Joan of Arc
For those of you interested in the process DVD, I now have it available on my site. It covers everything from the initial abstract sketches to the final oil glazes. Aaron Fagerstrom, who shot and edited my first documentary , The Mechanic, also created this film. I could not be more please with his efforts - from the cinematography, editing, pacing, sound mixing and music selection his skills have grow tremendously!
http://www.donatoart.com/joanofarc/index.htm
Happy Birthday Joan!



31 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this!
    So impressive , amazing,and motivating!!

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  2. What a heartbreakingly beautiful painting.

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  3. Beautiful. You continue to get better and better. It is apparent how hard you push yourself to make each piece better than the last and that you continue to learn and grow as an artist.

    The quote at the beginning of the video was perfect. I think we're all very glad you decided to live your life as a painter and not an engineer :)

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  4. A bow to the master ;) So inspiring!

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  5. Incredible.. the intensity of emotion is awesome. The claustrophobia in the image - a composition which pulls us in through all the turmoil to the two faces... wow.

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  6. Really glad to see the arrival of this DVD, Donato! I just placed my order--CAN'T WAIT!

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  7. Wow. This piece stopped me in my tracks. Astounding.

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  8. WOW! Phenomenal piece. The hands are just incredible.

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  9. Absolutely wonderful as always Donato. Thanks for sharing!

    I already ordered the DVD :)

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  10. I truly believe that you are taking figurative art back to where it's been missing from for so long.

    Spectacular composition, movement and emotion. Waiting for more!

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  11. Beautiful and powerful. Has a haunting quality about it, truly unforgettable.

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  12. Just ordered my DVD! I cant wait to see you paint this. Watching you in the trailer using all kinds of colors in the skin got me all excited because thats what I need to learn.
    You rock amico :)

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  13. Can't express how awesome the painting and the trailer were. I Have the mechanic dvd and i remember its trailer, now that i compare them i cant wait to see the new tutorial, a masterpiece by itself if i judge from what i just saw :)Maybe 1 day soon :)

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  14. I'm throwing my money at the screen and nothing's happening!
    I'd love a Digital Download copy as DVD would probably take forever to arrive and costs slightly a bit more for Canada.
    Can't wait to get it either way dvd or digital

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  15. Shows what true inspiration can do- what happens when a certain subject drives you. Astounding!

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  16. I cannot stop looking at this painting. I am so inspired Donato! this is my favorite of your paintings I think! :)

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  17. This is absolutely outstanding. Even if I refrain from gushing over how amazing your technique and execution are, the way you've presented Joan is brilliant - the ambiguity is so clever. Having studied Joan's life myself I really, really appreciate this take on the turmoil of that period in history. SO well done!!

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  18. There seems to be a problem with the order link to PayPal. Firefox is reporting that the connection is untrusted due to an "invalid security certificate." Any chance that this can be fixed? I'm really looking forward to the video, but don't want to risk my credit card info. Thanks!

    Will you be including a print of the painting as you did with The Mechanic DVD?

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  19. This is a beauty! Thanks for sharing looking forward to purchasing this one as I already have the Mechanic which is filled with countless wisdom. I hope it will be also available for Digital Download for us who are far from you!

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  20. please make it digital download:) will you?

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  21. Looks like she's being captured, to me. Very nice work.

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  22. So incredibly beautiful. Your work is fine art at it's best. I really appreciate your repeated notes about ambiguous narrative in your work as you make posts. It's helped me to put more story into the subtleties of my work recently and to really think more about that as I create. Thanks again for the post.

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  23. Beautiful painting, and phenomenal paint. Well done.

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  24. Outstanding piece Donato! I love how the ambiguity that you described was presented in the painting.

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  25. Donato,
    I am a self taught artist who is dancing through the process of learning. Every connection I make to others who have mastered the road I am beginning on is like gold in my hands. I am stoked to of watched you here. Hopefully when I can get some pennies in a pile I can order your dvd...until then know that mucho respect flows to you from me!

    In gratitude, love and happiness...dierdra

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  26. Stunning. Absolutely stunning. Is the faceless mouth by her ear symbolic of the voice of God she heard? I'm amazed at this. You captured strength, sorrow, elation, surrender, and victory on her face with one expression. There are very few works that I can look at over and over and discover new thoughts and elements every time. WOW.

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