One Painting-less Frame

Sunday found me in a piazza I did not recognize. I did not have my map on-hand, but the building scaled in front of me was all but shouting its cultural importance at me…

… and that was all the motivation I needed to enter its massive arched doorway to further explore that gem of a palace.

And what a gem, indeed! The interior was filled to the brim with historical Renaissance treasures. Grand paintings filled every wall space and any gaps were filled with decorative molding and elaborate sculptures. And wallpaper? Who needs that when you can have the walls painted to match your imagination? I caught my self touching the wall to see if the marble texture was real on several instances but, to my dismay, my hands were usually met with smooth flat wall.

In such an extraordinary place, I began to feel anxious and claustrophobic in no time. The countless interpreted faces seemed to see right through me and I had to remind myself they were only paintings and sculptures. In addition, the walls weren’t even being honest about their material character and depth, and not to mention the ceilings… oh the ceilings.

Then I paused and inhaled deeply.

I looked straight ahead…

and had an honest moment.

I had happened upon a painting frame, with no painting!

It was like a breath of fresh air. I smiled and appraised it for a few long minutes before heading outside.

Art is but an illusion.

Having been surrounded by such a magnitude of fantastically crafted works dosed me with a heart-heavy reality check.  I’m sure we’ve heard time and time again that, for example, a still-life painting is a painting of an object and not the object itself. Call me sentimental, but I find that knowledge very sobering. I could create all sorts of beautiful images featuring elegant figures, viscous animals, or relaxing landscapes with soft waves bringing in the tide… but none of them would be the actual subject they represent.

While that thought may bring in the rain clouds, art is not only a means for producing false realities to boast in kind people’s faces. I believe art has the power to influence one’s perception of reality in a unique way as it allows one to focus on a detail that has been previously overlooked and consider it in fresh light.

Between waking up and the everyday shuffle of modern living, it’s hard to pay attention to the small details here and there. A crumpled discarded coke can on the curb, rusty hinges, details of draperies, the wind caught in tree leafs, the sun waking up Spring flowers…

I think it’s a safe assumption that we don’t really care about the things which we don’t give the time of day to.

“Things are beautiful if you love them.” – Jean Anouilh

Art takes time, energy, brainpower, and sheer determination from planning to completion. If an artist dedicates several hours to drawing a goose, that goose becomes significantly more important than before it was drawn. With artwork, it’s important to consider the why factor. Why a goose? Why did the artist choose to draw this goose in this fashion? Why did they color it green out of all colors?

Sometimes all it takes is one individual to love (and dedicate some of their limited time to) something that seems very insignificant and lost in the world for others to follow suit. In this regard, art can serve as a trigger to an array of experiences such as deeper understanding, compassion, sensations, and the list goes on…

After touring the many rooms of the Palazzo Pitti, I wandered around  outside (and wound up completely lost) in the Boboli Gardens. Unlike the interior of the Palazzo, this spacious garden is full of nicely spaced sculptures. I was able to appreciate them one at a time. I would walk past a hedge, and discover a new sculpture!

In my journey to find my bearings, I came across this interesting sculpture. At first, it struck me as violent but I was immediately drawn to the facial expressions and poses of the figures. I knew I wanted to draw this for my next final in Sketching Florence! I took out my sketchpad and drew a quick sanguine study for refererence.

On my latest projects, I have been experimenting with the effects of chemicals (kerosene and alcohol) on different media but I decided to break back to traditional methods for this one. My intention was to have a nice traditional sanguine drawing that closely resembles my study drawing.

As I worked on this piece I realized I wanted to add more depth, so I worked in charcoal, soft black pastel, and white conte.

The meaning for this work (for me) changed throughout its process… which was only two class days! For now, simply enjoy! I would love to hear feedback on what you see in this image.

Fragile Real.  Approx 42″ x 30″. Sanguine and White Conte, Willow Charcoal, and Soft Pastel on Paper.

Until next time,


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