Friday, May 21, 2010

Virtual Tours

I rather like virtual tours. Often you can see more in a virtual tour than you can in the actual visit...for one thing, there is no time limit.
I found that Rome was so intense that I could not comprehend the half of it! The brain would go into overload, and nothing more would filter in! The Vatican and the Vatican Museum is a fine example of a place that one could spend a lifetime and still not have it all sink in. For instance, as you follow the "green path" on your guide through the Vatican Museum, you go through a dozen huge rooms, all decorated in frescoes by great masters like Titian and Michelangelo. But everybody rushes past them as if they were tiles on the subway because at the end of the "green path" is the ultimate room, the Sistine Chapel.
I lingered over the path and saw (and photographed) many great masters. You can see them up close, and I am sorry to say that many have been damaged by hand prints and finger stains, not all of them at two year old level!
Frescoe art is actually done by slathering on a thin layer of plaster, and blowing powdered paint onto it through straws. The effect is that of airbrushing. The soft lines and rich light and shadow effects were not achieved again until the invention of the airbrush in the early twentieth century. All those pictures of Michelangelo on his back with a paintbrush in his hands...well now you have to re-thing that!
They would usually have a "cartoon" made from paper which they would pin to the wall, that had the outline of the picture. Then a star wheel would be wheeled through the paper to leave a row of dents in the soft plaster. Often the artist would "pounce" the paper. Pouncing is when you take a little cloth bag containing charcoal and bang in onto the paper...this would allow some of the dust to come through the holes made by the star wheel and mark the outline.

Anyway, the result of a good technique combined with genius will give you this...

http://www.vatican.va/various/cappelle/sistina_vr/index.html

I hope that you don't spend more than two or three hours on that link....evil grin!

3 comments:

Middle Child said...

Am going to have a look - I was interested to read about the blowing of powdered paint onto the wet plaster...might have a go...just hope that unlike Bill Clinton I don't inhale!

STAG said...

The source for my info is the Vatican Museum itself. The plaques which describe the exhibits are a wealth of information.

Wikipedia states that he used washes.

"Michelangelo painted onto the damp plaster using a wash technique to apply broad areas of colour, then as the surface became drier, he revisited these areas with a more linear approach, adding shade and detail with a variety of brushes. For some textured surfaces, such as facial hair and woodgrain, he used a broad brush with bristles as sparse as a comb. Altogether, Michelangelo's techniques show the skill that one would expect of Ghirlandaio's greatest pupil. He employed all the finest workshop methods and best innovations, combining them with a diversity of brushwork and breadth of skill far exceeding that of the meticulous Ghirlandaio.[nb 2]

the problem with washes is that they are NOT like air brush...though when done correctly, you can get an airbrush sort of effect. What usually happens is that successive washes don't really deepen the colour, but they can mix smoothly from one part of the painting to another. My old art teacher told me that "washes are good for controlling light and shadow, not so good for colours."

Fresco is done with many impliments, the powdered pigments blown onto the surface still need to be pounded into the plaster in a process called verdaccio, and layers of colour have to be laid down in the "golden hour", that hour in the process where the plaster is just starting to crystalize and you have to colour the crystals.

Here is a wonderful description of how to do frescoes. The artist is a far better descriptor than I am, and please, follow this link. Its worth it.

http://www.muralist.org/fresco/painting.html

Pacific College Mom said...

I wish my computer wasn't quite so old. I cannot utilize most links, boo hiss! Oh well, I'm sure the link is fantastic.