Making of Judith painting by Marta Dahlig

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Making of Judithby Marta Dahlig, Poland

I always found Judith to be one of the most fascinating characters – there aren’t many strong women characters in ancient history and she is definitely one to remember. Here’s a shortened version of her story:

“In the second century B.C., as the powerful Assyrian army invades the Near East, the town of Bethulia is besieged by the cruel and domineering Holofernes, foremost general of the Assyrian emperor Nebuchadnezzar. If Bethulia yields, the whole country will fall into Assyrian hands. Discouraged, the city’s elders agree to surrender the famine-stricken city if they are not rescued within a few days. Judith, a young widow and most unlikely savior, challenges them to take responsibility for the future of their community. She enters the Assyrian camp where Holofernes, smitten with her remarkable beauty, invites her to a banquet. When he retires to his bed in a drunken stupor, they are left alone in his tent. Judith takes up his sword and decapitates him. With the Assyrian army thrown into confusion, Judith inspires the Israelites to launch a surprise attack from which they emerge victorious.”

My first attempt to depict this character took place around four years ago and I never managed to finish the work. During the following years I kept coming back to the theme and right now I cannot even count the number of times I battled with the subject.... The image you see I started somewhere in December 2008 and it took me a very long time to finish.

Being silent for the past 1.5 years, I thought it would be a cool thing to come back with something special. I therefore decided to document the whole painting process.  6 hours of video recording, which you can view here, I hope you will these materials helpful, inspiring or just plain fun to watch! :)

Software used: Adobe Photoshop
Brushes used: Ragged Hard Round, Airbrush and occasional custom brushes
Time spent: 35-40 hours of basic work + 5 hours for touchups

1. Theme InterpretationThe many depictions of Judith throughout art history but one that I found especially fascinating is Klimt’s take on the theme, as it is much more sensual and erotic from what you might expect to be a depiction of a historically glorified character. I wanted to get the same mood across, and that is why my interpretation is rather loose – I concentrated more on achieving a certain atmosphere rather than on composing a historically believable depiction.

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