Having lost all of Monday putting last week's Painting Diary on to web-site and catching up with correspondence, I am keen to get on with some painting when I get into my studio first thing Tuesday morning. As I said at the end of last week, I want to spend some time on the central figure of Anthony, Count de la Roche, so I have all my tournament armour reference to hand to help me finalise his appearance. Working upwards from his feet, I double check his proportions and stance, and 'draw' the more complicated areas such as the poleyn (knee) with thin, dark paint, before blocking in areas of tone with a bigger brush. This takes quite a bit of time because I am constantly checking my reference and making important decisions about the exact form and style of the armour he is wearing.

Click image to enlarge

The legs are fairly plain but have some cusping along the edges of the articulating lames of the poleyn - typical of Flemish armours of this period. The most obvious difference between this armour and a 'battle' harness are the specialist jousting pieces; the 'frog-mouth' helm, manifer (long gauntlet protecting the entire lower left arm), and the large rondell hanging over the right armpit. By this period, the shield had ceased to be used in battle, but a small 'targe' continued to be worn for the joust, in this case tied to a staple on the breastplate and giving added protection to the target area.

I now move on to the horses caparison and give this another coat of paint, refining the folds and shadows/highlights. Eventually this will be covered in an intricate gold pattern, as de la Marche describes one of the 'Grand Bastard's' (many) caparisons as being of crimson cloth-of-gold, with a white, dagged, border.

Click image to enlarge

You could be forgiven for thinking that progress has really slowed down, but at this stage of the painting I can spend hours working away - adding brushstrokes, building up colours and detail - without, at first glance, it looking like much has been achieved. I spend some more time on the yellow pavilion and add detail to the flag on top; refine the squire's face; define the background squire; indicate another flag; etc. etc.

Click image to enlarge

By Friday, the red paint on the caparison is dry, so I am able to start working out the cloth-of-gold pattern. This is based on a surviving fragment of material preserved in the V&A, and it follows a fairly typical design that was very popular in the 15th century. It is, however, extremely complicated, and I have the added problem of trying to make it follow the shape of the horse it's covering. I have always been amazed at how the early Flemish painters managed to paint these complex designs in such detail, but if I was to achieve that level of sharpness, I think it would look unnatural and static. However, I do want to accurately represent the look of the fabric, so will show the central part in focus and then soften it as it goes away round the horse. By lunchtime I have managed to establish only a small part of the pattern, and this still needs further work, but I am going cross-eyed so I spend the rest of the day working on other areas of the canvas. However, I am happy with the way the fabric is beginning to look, and am confident it will look suitably opulent when it is finished. I will include another detail picture of this area of the painting when I have added more highlights and shadows to really make the gold areas shimmer. Display was a very important part of medieval society, and using such costly fabrics, especially in the quantities required for horse caparisons, was guaranteed to impress contemporaries. De la Marche's account of this tournament often seems more concerned with recording exactly what wealth was on show, rather than the outcome of the jousts themselves!

Next week I will spend as much time as I can at the easel, but I will also be preparing for my annual exhibition at the Tewkesbury Medieval Festival next weekend - the 10th/11th July. More information can be found on the Latest News page - click here - and I look forward to seeing you there.

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Graham Turner's jousting career has progressed a long way from the start he made whilst writing this Painting Diary in 2004, and he has now jousted at venues such as the Tower of London, the Royal Armouries Museum, and the Historisches Museum in Bern. The incredible experiences he has gained riding and competing in full plate armour at this high level have had a profound influence on his life and work, and you can find out more about Graham's jousting and his armour by CLICKING HERE

A large range of prints and cards reproduced from Graham Turner's medieval paintings are available from Studio 88, and full details of these, plus all Graham Turner's currently available originals, can be found on our website.

CLICK HERE to be taken to the relevant section of the site.