Tag Archives: New Scientist

Saint, Sunlight And Scabby Exterior

28 Nov

 

St Christopher b

I did more sketching towards the end of my recent holiday in Italy, in Bologna, than earlier in Florence, mainly, I think, because making art is my profession and drawing while I’m on vacation feels like work. But after a few days I had itchy fingers and started to scribble in my sketchbook again. We visited some magnificent churches and cathedrals; this one below is the Basilica of San Petronio. The outside façade was left unfinished and in quite a rough state, which is in complete contrast to the fascinating interior, allegedly because the architect wanted to rival St. Peter’s in Rome and once the Pope got wind of it, he put pressure on to stop the project from being completed.

 

church b

One of the many beautiful things inside is a gorgeous painting of Saint Christopher. I managed a very quick sketch which doesn’t do it justice at all. Another fascinating thing is the longest meridian line in the world, marking out a calendar on the marble floor. We stayed and watched it in action just after noon, where a large dot of sunlight appeared alongside the date shown on the floor. It was very exciting!

 

The holiday was arranged by New Scientist magazine and focused on Renaissance art, architecture and science, expertly led by Andrew Spira.

 

The Skinless

27 Nov

anatomy b

Another quick sketch from my recent trip to Northern Italy, this one from the Anatomical Theatre in the Palazzo Archiginnasio in Bologna. The theatre, built in 1637 by Antonio Levante, is a beautiful room in carved wood which looks, to me anyway, like a classical anatomy theatre should. There are two wonderful life-size wooden statues of the Spellati – the Skinless – by Ercole Lelli and I managed to scribble one of them.

Bokashi!

26 Nov

Hiroshige 1

Husb and I spent a few days away in Northern Italy, exploring museums and galleries on a guided tour arranged by New Scientist magazine. We took in a fabulous exhibition, “Beyond The Wave”, of Japanese Ukiyo e printmakers, Hokusai and Hiroshige in Bologna. I was fascinated by their process. To my surprise, the artists themselves didn’t do any printmaking, but just provided the initial simple ink line drawing (which didn’t survive the process). The drawing was transferred to a number of blocks, up to fifteen depending on the amount of colours, and cut by a carver. Finally the blocks were handed over to a printmaker to produce the fabulous full-colour images that we’re used to seeing today. This process reminds me of that used in the production of modern comics, with the artist producing pencil drawings, handing them over to an inker and then to a letterer. Coincidentally, Hokusai and Hiroshige are a great influence on Japanese Manga and Anime.

In my small sketchbook, I made some little studies of the beautiful simple compositions of some of the prints. Most had very sparse detail and the artist’s original line drawings are usually quite basic. The richness of pattern and colour are down to the skills of the printmaker who often used a blending technique called Bokashi which gives beautifully graduated colours. Ukiyo e prints became very fashionable through Japonism and had an enormous influence on later 19th century and 20th century European art and artists including the Impressionists and post-Impressionists and individual artists including Cassatt, Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec and van Gogh.

%d bloggers like this: