Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Off For a Long Weekend

bentcreeknc.com

U. S. Geological Survey

I'm taking a short break to visit Asheville, North Carolina and the beautiful Smokey Mountains, but I'll be back sharing with you next week. In the meantime, have a great weekend . . .

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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Pompeii No.53: It's Only Paint!

After framing the Diana painting with Clovio's design from the Farnese Hours, it came time to hang the painting. For a long time, I had in mind to hang it from a blue ribbon, tied with a bow.

Perhaps I was subconsciously thinking of the later French decorative groupings of implements that are properly referred to as "symbols." I also thought the blue bow would be a nice balance to the ignudi's draping in the lower part of the mural.

I was initially very pleased with the final result. But upon looking at it the next morning, I liked it much less. It wasn't just that the bow was a little too sweet, or that I was getting further and further away from Neoclassism. I realized that the blue was more intense than any color in the Diana painting, especially as it was surrounded by that dark auburn. Because of that, it was pulling the eye away from the painting. Can you see that the bow is actually quite a distraction?

So this is when you say to yourself, "It's only paint! Let's go to Plan B."

My second hanger is a simple unbowed ribbon, austere by comparison.

Now, once again, the painting predominates.
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Friday, May 8, 2015

Pompeii No.52: Framing Diana


After I finished Diana's portrait, I knew that it should be complemented with an appropriate antique frame, and I did quite a bit of research on that subject. In my meanderings, I came upon the work of Giulio Clovio, an artist and advisor to Cardinal Farnese for some 40 years.

The Renaissance  |  Charles McCorquodale
Clovio spent nine years producing the Farnese Hours, a book containing what is considered by many to be the Italian Renaissance's finest miniatures.

click to enlarge
It was Clovio's magnum opus.

Another section of the Farnese Hours  |  croatia.org
The Renaissance  |  Charles McCorquodale
Giulio Clovis became a close friend of El Greco, who painted this portrait of Clovio with his famous book.

click to enlarge
I was tickled that a painting from the Palazzo Farnese should be married to a frame that is also a part of the Farnese history, a nice bit of serendipity. As you can see, I modified my frame to look a tad more Neoclassic and a little less Baroque.

At the bottom of the frame, I've added a plaque with Annibale Carracci's initials. Wherever he is, I hope he's happy.

In my next posting, we'll figure out a way to hang the painting.
I hope you'll join me then.
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Friday, April 24, 2015

Pompeii No.51: Diana's Secret Love

Mark D. Ruffner © 2015

www.gopixpic.com

As I mentioned in Pompeii No. 47, Cardinal Farnese's gallery ceiling depicts the loves of the gods of Olympus. Above, I've circled the ceiling segment that I've chosen to add to my own mural. It's one of Annibale Carracci's best works, and a testament thereof is that most books on Carracci and the Farnese Gallery highlight this portion of the ceiling.
Annibale Carracci: The Farnese Gallery, Rome  |  Dempsey, Braziller
Here I've circled details that overlap from other parts of the mural, and these are areas I'll therefore be omitting from my own copy.

The painting depicts Diana (also known as Artemis in Greek mythology) who was the Roman goddess of the moon and of the hunt. Much to the disappointment of the other gods, she vowed never to marry. But on one of her trips across the sky, she spotted a sleeping shepherd named Endymion and fell in love. As you can see, she is was so very careful in her attention — much to the amusement of the cherubs — that not even Endymion's dog stirred. Diana visited Endymion thereafter many times, always when he was asleep, and remembering her vow, she asked Jupiter (or Zeus) to make Endymion eternally young and eternally asleep. There are a number of alternate versions of this story.

I leave it to you to determine possible messages on love and life, which might include the moral to never say never. In any case I like Carracci's depiction and have copied it, below.

Mark D. Ruffner © 2015

Below is a comparison of Carracci's original and my own copy.

click to enlarge
Probably the biggest difference between the two is that I changed the clouds, making them level and almost an Art Deco stylization. It helps me to see the comparison the same way you are now doing because I notice that I need to go back and add more shadow to Diana's arm, and that the dog needs a little more contrasting white in his face and tail.

Gli Amori Degli Dei

Of course Annibale was working on a much greater scale, maybe 20 times the size of my little copy.

I want to call you attention now to the interesting way he shadowed his figures. Where other artists would sometimes crosshatch, Carracci shadowed with a method that looked like fine banknote engraving. His first apprenticeship was with a goldsmith, so perhaps he developed this technique then. One would not see this looking up from floor level, and I find it quite astonishing. I would have loved to have looked over Carracci's shoulder as he worked.

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Here's the Carracci wall as it looks today. If the Diana painting looks a little unreal in this photograph, it's because I isolated it in PhotoShop and lightened its exposure so that you wouldn't be seeing any of it in shadow.

But we can't just leave it there, floating in an auburn void! In my next posting, I'll be putting a frame around the painting, and the frame will come from a most appropriate source. I hope you'll join me then!
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Saturday, April 11, 2015

Pompeii No.50: The Right Ignudi

Gli Amori Degli Dei
In Pompeii No. 49, I created an ignudi loosely based on ones by Annibale Carracci. Now it's time to create a companion piece to sit on the right side of the mural.

Gli Amori Degli Dei
I've chosen to use this fellow as my basis; like the first figure, he's from the ceiling of the famous Farnese Gallery. My friend Sandy said, "You're not going to use that hair, are you!?" Oh, is it that bad? Well, perhaps he does have a bit of a bed-head.

As in my last ignudi, I will be adding new legs for a new posture.

Originally, I had thought of painting the draperies a different color from the last ignudi's, but because the two figures are somewhat unbalanced, I decided to have blue draperies on both sides of the mural.

click to enlarge
Sometimes I have trouble capturing the right colors in a room that does not have a lot of natural light, but the colors in this shot are very true to the  painting.

I've stylized the hair, and Sandy should be happy that it's not quite so windblown. I had fun painting the eye's reflection to match Carracci's image.

Notice that I have a different light source than the Carracci original. Mine conforms to my own mural.

The outlining was not typical of Carracci, but it was typical of Michelangelo. It's logical that I reference Michelangelo for this work, because Carracci himself did.

This image is a bit on the orange side, but I'm including the hand (at approximately 150% its actual size) to show that it's rather loosely painted.

click to enlarge
In this image of the living room wall, you can see how I've endeavoured to balance the figures by balancing the draperies, particularly as they extend out to the center of the wall to exactly the same length. The drapery on the right is also gathered at the end to balance the crossed feet on the left.

There will eventually be a neoclassic design element between the two ignudi, but the next stage of the mural will be to faithfully render a wonderful Carracci detail in the upper panel. That's coming up in the next posting.
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