2017.03.25 Week 13 Day 1
Saturday was spent shopping preparing a dinner for a fellow student. In order to come to the school, she sold her business and home. When she is done with the Angel Academy of Art, she is exploring moving to Mexico (she is from California.) I will give her my personal thoughts—but I am sure she will have a lot of considerations. Otherwise a lazy, post first term day—including tidying up and laundry.
Recently I posted, on my FaceBook page, this picture of a still life by Davide Barbini
(one of my teachers at the Angel Academy of Art.) One person wrote in reply to the posting asking why paint the image when a photograph would be just as good. It is a natural question when one first glances at a beautiful still life. As many of you know, these works of art take a long time through a very rigorous process. Still life painting as a long and rich history—that I will not repeat here. I would like to say why this painting resonates with me and provide my reply to “Mr Crabby (his self ascribed moniker)” about why a painting instead of a photograph:
It is OK to consider technical representation as the only goal—but in the case of art the depth of meaning transcends mere representation. It creates an atmosphere that allows the viewer to contemplate the objects in the painting for their essential qualities and not just their superficial and formal ones. It is hard to see in this low resolution photo, but when one really looks at the painting one sees a richness of textures, play of light and juxtapositions that enable one to truly feel the essence of the rose and the potential of the written word. Quoting from my favorite poet, Rainer Marie Rilke: The living rose is “fully awake” but discreet, possessing “many pages / of detailed happiness / we will never read.” I here offer thanks to David Need’s brilliant translation and commentary in his book “Roses: The Late French Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke”
Rilke taught us through poetry to see the vitality of the rose but to also understand that in cutting it we don’t kill it but simply accelerate its transformation. When we as humans are “cut” from the umbilical cord of our mothers, we too begin instantly the process of transformation. Like the rose in a garden, what we become depends of many circumstances of nurture and nature.
I have chosen a new path of art not necessarily to ever reach the proficiency of Davide Barbini. My previous path of library design was intensely associated with the preservation of learning and keeping the book in our society. This painting has both paths intersecting.
By stopping to see and understand what these visual metaphors represent and how they can help us understand ourself is one of the powerful aspects of painting. Like the book, the rose has “leaves” that unfold as it withers—much like we do daily as we continue on our journey to our own end. When we turn a page in either a book or life we continue a journey. If we shut the book our turn our gaze away from the rose, we disconnect ourselves from life and our tiny place in making the world a better place.
Rilke was fascinated by these irreducible relationships: the flower’s vitality belies its eventual death; its blooming won’t diminish the impenetrable density of its petals. Illustrations in Mr Need’s book reinforce Rilke’s assertion that the rose of these poems is “a supple spoken word / framed by the text of things” and that this “framing” constitutes a relationship binding our transitory hopes to “the tender moments / in the continual departure.” (from the introduction to Mr Need’s book.). So this is why I am learning to really look and not glance….
2017.03.26 Week 13 Day 2
Sunday’s 10,000 step (5.2 miles) walk took me eastward to the first bridge within the city limits of Florence over the Arno. On both sides of the river there are linear parks. The major sites included:
Ponte San Niccolò
This bridge was first built in 1837; was damaged in the flood of 1844 and rebuilt in 1853. The retreating Germans destroyed in in 1944. It was rebuilt in the 1950’s in reinforced concrete.
The linear parks created after World War II under the guidance of City Councillor Peiro Bargellini: Alberta Park, the Gardens of Lungano Cristoforo Colombo, the Gardens of Lunganro Tempio (with a nice cafe and riverside seating.)
2017.03.27 Week 13 Day 3
Monday I worked on the “flat values” for the shadow shapes of my Bargue 3: Jupiter. I found that I could slide the plywood under the window frame and balance it on the radiator. Perfect daylight to work from—much better than the fluorescent lighting in the studio. I also discovered several minor errors and a few major ones. So the first hours were spent correcting the big shapes—since it these are wrong the it will not matter how accurate the minor shapes are. The crown is tough and will take, I am afraid, a long time. The interesting thing: I selected one of the hardest Bargue’s knowingly. I could have selected an easier one. But that is not in my nature.
2017.03.28 Week 13 Day 4-7
My best friend and the father of my godson arrived last night. We will spend Tuesday – Thursday enjoying Florence and then, on Friday we will head to the UK.