I finally caught up on sleep (kind of) and realized that what has been an exhausting week is basically over.
Tomorrow I will spend the day doing the second portion of my fresco, for which I am extraordinarily excited. I’ve decided on my design:
This photo was taken at the Padua botanical garden (Il Orto Botanico di Padova), which was the first known botanical garden in history. Since I never really wrote about it properly, you can Wikify yourself on it here. (And yes, I promise, I really am going to write about my summer and post photos).
At any rate, it was a significant day for me, and I had never seen a flower quite like this before… which considering what a general plant nerd I am, was surprising.
I spoke with my professor today about what pigments and techniques I will use. I am especially looking forward to trying some conjointe (I think that’s the term), the method of painting draperies with opposing lines of shimmering color like threads in iridescent fabrics. The idea is to make the petals seem to glow and move with the viewer, to give them an undulating, lively appearance.
I think the finished colors and surface qualities of fresco resemble Georgia O’Keeffe‘s painting, so I kind of want to play up that similarity a bit in the way I paint this flower, while still keeping in Renaissance techniques. A little tip of the hat to two of my favorite time periods and the way they come together in my own painting, I suppose.
Last spring when my Materials, Techniques & Conservation class had a fresco lecturer, she showed the incredible difference that burnishing makes, and I’m intrigued to try this as well. It condenses the pigments together and makes them flatten in a way, and the only analogous situation I know is when a woman swirls the pad in her pressed powder compact too much and develops little hardened areas which are darker and appear sort of crystalline. I think most people think that is oil or bacteria (which may contribute), but the fresco conservator agreed with me that it is the same process of pigment consolidation with burnishing (and yes, I was a big enough dork to ask).
I’ve pulled out some reference books, and as I surround myself with Cennini, Vasari, Ralph Mayer, Michelangelo, and my notebooks, I have a warm swelling of camaraderie, like “Hey, the gang’s all here!” I still can’t get over how fantastically exciting it is to immerse myself in an historical process and finally find out all the things I’ve been so curious about.
Still, I can’t imagine I will ever know how to do this:
(Yes, I took that photo, over a chorus of security guards yelling “Shhhhh, quiet! NO PHOTOS!!!”).
Man, I really should stop hoarding all my Italy photos for myself.