The painting McLean was working on in December 2011.

A few years ago I made a portait of John Dee copying the image from the painting in the Ashmolean in Oxford. I managed to sell this, and a few months ago another person asked me to make a similar portrait. Rather than a straight portrait, I decided to put the Aemeth diagram in the background behind Dee. This person agreed to commission me to do this. I have now made some progress and this is how the piece stands at present. I may put another glaze over the background to make it less prominant. Hopefully it should only take another ten hours to complete.

The painting McLean was working on in December 2011.

This is a copy of an illustration of the well known crucified snake from a 18th century manuscript of the Flamel hieroglyphics - the Molinier manuscript in the Bibliotheque Nationale. I am planning to create copies of all the images from this manuscript.

The painting McLean was working on in December 2011.

This is a copy of an illustration of the monkey trumpeteer from a Manuscript of the Aurora consurgens in Prague. It still needs some work on the details.

The painting McLean was working on in March 2010.

This early 19th century painting of a masonic tracing board by Josiah Bowring is quite well known. I have been comissioned to make a copy of this. Although the painting looks finished in this photograph, it actually needs a lot more work on the details.

An alchemical painting McLean was working on in March 2010.

The death of the old king and rise of the young king from the Splendor solis, here copying the best known version in the British Library, without the decorative border.

The painting McLean was working on in Dec 2009/Jan 2010.

Jacopo de'BarbariA Portrait of Luca Pacioli 1495.

A wonderful painting incorporating the depiction of a glass polyhedron which needed a deep understanding of perspective as well as reflection in the transparent medium.

The painting McLean was working on in July/August 2009.

Joos van Craesbeeck Temptation of St Anthony.

A delightfully humourous 17th century painting on the Temptation of St Anthony theme.

The painting McLean was working on in June 2009.

Pieter Huys Temptation of St Anthony.

I have now decided to embark on a rather intensive and long term project to create facsimile paintings of many of the almost unknown works on the theme of the Temptation of St Anthony. I know most people will find this idea totally obscure and recondite, but I have come to see that these paintings though almost totally neglected, nevertheless document in a visually engaging way, the evolution of various ideas on the idea of temptation. When I have made about 20 or so works, I hope to be able to mount an exhibition on the theme, using this material. I am consequently seeking some funding to help make this happen.

The painting McLean was working on in April/May 2009.

Niederrheinischer Meister Love Spell.

This painting by a now unknown artist only described as a Lower Rhein Master, was made around 1470/80. I made an attempt on this a few years ago but I grew unhappy with my work then and abandoned it unfinished. I recently decided to attempt it again, this time at a slightly larger scale. The elongated proportions of the female figure may seem unnatural, but these were part of the pictorial style of that period, as we see in the nude figures of Lucas Cranach the Elder, made some time after this painting.

The painting McLean was working on in April/May 2009.

Albrecht Aldorfer The Rest on the Flight into Egypt.

The original was painted by the German Albrecht Aldorfer in 1510. What attracted me to this work was the amazing townscape in the background and the wonderful ornate classical fountain. I am not usually drawn to religious paintings but this one seemed more about creating a strange setting for the scene with Mary, Joseph and their child. The painting relies upon the detail of the crumbling houses on the right and the sharp lines of the fountain. It was the most challenging painting I had attempted and it took considerable effort to put in all the details. I made this at the same size as the original and it really tested my abilities to their limit.

The painting McLean is working on in March 2008.

Image from the Splendor solis manuscript

I really love this image of the man with the glass sphere head emerging out of the swamp. I decided to make a copy not from the most familiar London, British Library manuscript of 1582, but from the earlier original of 1545 now in Nürnberg. On my easel I have printouts of the London on the left and the Nürnberg on the right. Because this was an detailed illumination on vellum it would not be possible to paint this in oils at the same size, so I have enlarged it to about twice the original size. Even on this larger scale reproducing the details is proving rather exacting.

The painting McLean was working on in early March 2008.

Mary Magdelene by Rogier van der Weyden

This is a wonderful 16th century Flemish painting by Rogier van der Weyden. It is one component of a triptych made for a wealthy merchant. I really love the way Rogier has placed this figure in a stylised Northern European landscape. This stylised landscape seen in 16th century Flemish paintings totally engages me. I am painting at about the actual size of the original. It should be finished in April or May. The painting of this period is characterised by the artists pushing towards the limits of technique. There is absolutely no reason for Rogier to have created such a complex sleeve on Mary's costume, with all its textures and detail, but he took virtuosic joy in challenging himself to achieve the effect. It is a totally different picture to paint from the Mona Lisa. With the van der Weyden I rarely used anything larger than a 00 or 0 brush, while the Mona Lisa required somewhat larger brushes, 1 and 2's, and even some flats in places. I think I prefer working with the more detailed brushes, though it does burn up the hours.

The painting McLean was working on in February 2008.

Mona Lisa

I wanted to set myself a little challenge and make a facsimile copy of the Mona Lisa, just to see what was possible. Early on I decided to work from a 17th century copy rather than primarily from the familiar original. The original painting appears to have been damaged in some areas by some over vigorous cleaning in the past and detail and colour has been lost, especially from the background. When I looked at photographs of this copy, I could see the intact columns which framed the window in front of which the figure was sitting. These seem to have been cut off the original, leaving only shadows of the pillar bases. Also the figure is seated in a chair, something not now immediately obvious in the original painting, but if one looks deeply into it one can see the arm of this chair, though it is almost lost in the dark background. I decided that, rather than make an exact copy of the familiar Mona Lisa, I would attempt to do a little restoration or reconstruction to bring out some of the lost features. I have thus lightened her garment to bring out the folds and also lightened her translucent veil. This is a puzzling feature in the original painting, as it appears on the side of her face almost like the shadow of painted out hair, however, on deeper examination one can see that it continues around behind her head and emerges on the other side of her face. It is quite lost within the darkening of the paint and the varnish. I decided to lighten this and make it visible again. One can thus see that her hair is not let down in the modern style but is contained within this veil, as would be more seemly for 15th century aristocratic women. As I show in the photo above, I am about half way through completing the work. I have to apply a few more layers to the face in order to smooth the forms more and seemlessly blend the tones. Having now heightened the details in her garment and the wooden panelling under the window, I must now apply layers of earth tones over this to darken it down a bit and make the shadowed areas more realistic. In the original the paint has badly cracked (particularly where white pigment was used) into those fine filaments known as craquelure. In my painting the image is of course totally smooth.