21, December 2009 § Leave a comment
Near the close of the semester I took the opportunity to demonstrate two traditional techniques to the students of the painting class. Oil paints are just one in a long line of materials that artists have used to create paintings. Tempera paint which uses egg yolk as a binder rather than linseed oil has been around since at least the time of the ancient Greeks. Pigments from earth sources as well as organic material are used for the colouring matter and the yolk binds them and adheres them to a surface. The other technique we looked into is using marble dust to extend oil paints and to make them more transparent.
Tempera colors were used extensively before the mid 1400’s when linseed oil began to supplant the use of egg as a binder. Most of the early Renaissance work we know is in this medium including the large pieces of Botticelli, “Birth of Venus” and the “Primavera” now in the Uffizzi. Tempera has the advantage of reading very well in the high end of the tonal range and having fast drying times. It works up almost more like a pencil rendering with a linear approach and little surface build up. It can be pushed to transparent, opaque or opalescent with ease.
Introducing marble dust into oil paint extends the paint and lightens it without turning it cool and chalky as white would do. It makes the paint more transparent and more pasty, reducing drying time and creating impasto effects. It is almost like adding light without unduly changing the tone or temperature of the color. If you add some drops of Liquin to moisten the mixture the resulting putty can dry overnight even in thick areas. Painters such as Velasquez and Rembrandt are known to have added some sort of marble dust or chalk to their pigments.
These and other techniques are interesting to extend our handling options and help us to understand why art of the past has certain characteristics. Techniques may suit some temperaments and some subjects better than another.
21, December 2009 § Leave a comment
9, December 2009 § Leave a comment
THE AEGEAN CENTER FOR THE FINE ARTS
Tuesday, December 8, 6:30 p.m.
Creative Writing Director – Jeffrey Carson
Aegean Center Director – John Pack
Dessert at The Villa Rospigliosi
We waited for evenings that offered Roquefort
And when they came, we hoarded pears in our pockets
Until with table knife we could spread that tangy blue
Across the slippery slice of pear we had prepared
For this very moment: dessert at the villa.
7, December 2009 § Leave a comment
Art History means knowing the history of art – societal expectations, stylistic norms, symbols, social and religious context, commercial background, and more. You need it to recognize skill, freshness, and intention, and to develop taste, which is to say personal preference based on knowledge and discrimination. And as history illuminates art, so art illuminates history. Art appreciation means having enough aesthetic sensitivity based on knowledge to form your own opinions – which is more than “I like/dislike it.” So art’s history and appreciation are intimately connected. And if you love art, it is a joyful lifetime study.
In the autumn of 2008 and spring of 2009, a lot of students who had studied Art History with Jeff, Liz, John, Jane, and Jun in Italy and in Greece, upon learning that Elizabeth and I were to be in New York City this Christmas, requested that we take them around the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This would be a reunion based on study and recognition of what we all care deeply about. Since this is the museum where Elizabeth and I, New Yorkers both, first learned about the art of the world, we have a special affection for it, and we agreed.
Our time in the City will be only a few days, and we perforce have many obligations, but we have now made a date. We will meet students (siblings and partners welcome) who are able to join us on Tuesday, December 22, at 10:30 a.m., at the big central desk in the museum’s lobby. Our e-mail is email@example.com.
What should we look at first, the Girl with a Dove from Paros or Giovanni Pisano’s Pulpit Eagle from Pistoia? Or maybe the giant crèche with its 18th-century Neapolitan carved wood figures under the tree?
See you there!