Monday, August 20, 2012

Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema

Cari Amici (Dear Friends),

I have returned to Firenze, Italia, from my lovely trip to Serbia, only to discover that I have too many friends. Ha.. My life seems to be go-go-go and while it is a lot of fun and I feel a bit spoiled, I am also feeling antsy because my art making has slowed too much. Soon, I go to Spain to study mural making. It was an excellent opportunity too good to pass up and the timing could not have been better: I have a commission to paint my first mural. I am excited and nervous about it since there are many new things for me to attempt.

I am currently trying to seclude myself for this week to finish the bozzetto (Italian for “sketch,” in this case similar to maquette or a small model of an intended larger work). Like most artists, I find inspiration from my colleagues of the past, as well as my contemporaries and my own imagination. Most of my work happens in my head long before anyone else will even see one mark of it. I was delighted last weekend when I visited my clients and showed them my charcoal sketch. It was very loose and I commend them and their friends for catching on to what I was trying to express.

To find inspiration for this project, I turned to one of my favorite romantic artists, Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema [Born: Dronryp, Netherlands on 8 January 1836; Died: Wiesbaden, Germany on 25 June 1912]. He is often thought to be British (and lived in England for many years), but his interests and life were much broader than one country could hold.

I am including four images here of some of Alma-Tadema’s paintings that helped me with my composition. I also include here an image that I took in Serbia, which is also playing a role in my future mural.

Basically, I was told by the client what elements he wanted in what started out as a painting for a wall. But I had envisioned something larger and next thing you know he was preparing the wall with the latest technology in Italia: cork insulation with aluminum foil to keep out moisture and then covered in fresco-type material and sealed. You might imagine the laugh we had when I told him what I had envisioned as he sent me progress reports on the wall each day that I was in Serbia! [The foil threw me, but is laminated on a sheet of cork… whereas I had envisioned a home-made job of sheets of foil being pushed into the wall and lots of wine drinking going on to get corks available. Ha. My vision no doubt is also a memory of my friend Andrew Corke who is creating art with real wine corks. But, I digress . . . as I do.]

I made a list of all of the elements my client wanted (three curvaceous, long-haired scantily clothed female figures, Roman ruins, arched window(s), a pool for the ladies, etc.). I then mapped out the proportions of the wall and included various architectural elements (such as an awkwardly placed “window” in the wall) and furniture that would block some of the view of the mural.

My first disegno did not make me happy. It felt cluttered and lacked the impact that a mural should have (as a good street painting does). However, it was a necessary part of my process because my reaction to it led to a much better second attempt. So, I now have approval and need to solidify the drawing and hire the models. Stay tuned for progress images, although there will be a trip to Spain here before the mural begins.


Anonymous said...

Hi Kelly -
Your foil comment reminded me of a studio I visited last week where the artist does layers of oil on foil.

Good luck and have fun:)

Kelly Borsheim said...

Hi Renaissance Rebecca,
I looked for this site and the specific link and my browser said neither exists. The art would have been interesting to see.