My version of Bouguereau’s ‘A Calling’ aka ‘Une Vocation’

As I posted previously I’m doing some master studies to learn stuff. I finished my version of Bouguereau’s painting “A Calling” (“Une Vocation” is the original French title). FYI there are two paintings by him with that name.
Here’s my completed painting, based on the original by Bouguereau:
"A Calling", Airn LeBus (after Bouguereau), 11x14 inches, oil on canvas, 2009

'A Calling', Airn LeBus (after Bouguereau), 11x14 inches, oil on canvas, 2009

I started this in early February 2009 and completed it in early April.

I spent about 4 hours drawing it with pencil on paper in the same size I would paint, 11×14 inches. The hands were the toughest part and took several sessions to get correct.

I transferred the drawing to the canvas with graphite paper. I then went over it in sepia ink with a Sharpie and put a thin imprimatura olive-greenish wash over everything (turpentine, bleached linseed oil, ivory black+yellow ochre).

Once that was dry I started the painting, using a direct technique (no monochromatic underpainting with subsequent color glazing). I mostly used bristle brushes and oil straight out of the tube with no medium.

My palette was the following (with some exceptions like the blue pencil):

  • burnt and raw umber
  • mars black
  • titanium white
  • yellow ochre
  • burnt sienna
  • vermillion (hue)

I saw early on that the painting was turning out a lot different from the original tone-wise…the contrast was much less dramatic. I still liked the way my painting was looking though so I decided to keep my version as it was turning out and didn’t try to alter my version to look more like Bouguereau’s.

The original is about 22×18 inches according to, and mine is 11×14 inches. Overall my version is less detailed than his, which was due to the smaller nature of my painting, my current skill level, and the amount of time I was willing to spend on this. Overall I am happy with it, especially the hands, since this is the first time I have painted hands 🙂

The painting work on this took me about 19 hours. I spent the most time painting the eye area of the face, the hands, and the clothing.

Now I need to finish my Petrus Christus study 🙂

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