The Skull of Saint Valentine

The Skull of St. Valentine. 7″x7″, watercolor on paper with 23.5K gold. Latin: You will die. I know I have painted a lot of skulls lately. In fact, this was the third time I painted this composition this year (long story).  The original idea was to paint this in egg tempera, which I did, but it needed weeks to dry before I could glaze it with oil paint.  While the first was drying, I corrected the composition by adding a couple of things and painted it again!  While the second egg tempera painting was curing, I decided this would be a great addition to the Sacred Bird series.  That’s basically how it all played out.

The painting was sparked by a photo of a painting by Hans Memling with a human skull in a niche. Not long after I was looking for information about Saint Valentine and saw the photo of his skull on display covered with dried flowers. I merged both ideas except used butterflies instead of flowers and a bird skull instead of human, of course. The Latin was on the painting of Memling’s.