Friday, September 8, 2017

Who Was Mona Lisa?

There have been many theories as to the identity of Mona Lisa, the portrait painted by Leonardo Davinci. Some think it is a feminized self portrait. Some say it's DaVinci's lover.

I found an article in The Artist's Magazine that makes a very good case for the identity of LaGioconda. The article is called Who's That Girl? written by Katherine Mesch, in the June 2005 issue of the magazine. I read this many years ago and thought it was very interesting. I recently rediscovered the article and thought I would share it.

In this article, the author explains that "after 17 years of research, historian Maike Vogt-Luerssen that the Mona Lisa is really Isabella of Aragon, the former duchess of Milan." The paintings themselves give clues, as well as documents from that period in history,

She goes on to explain: "The woman is wearing heavy mournful garments (Isabella's mother died a year prior to the painting of the portrait--she would have still been in mourning). Visible on the bodice of the dress are the connected rings of the house of Sforza as well as knots and strings representing the connection between the dynasties of Visconti and Sforza (all the symbols of the family that Isabella had married into). ....The symbols place Mona Lisa in a category of only eight women of the time....Leonardo was a painter at Isabella's court for 11 years, and the two remained friends...for most of her life."

This is the portrait of Isabella of Aragon, painted by Bernardino Luini:
And this is the Mona Lisa, by Leonardo DaVinci:
Even from a viewpoint where one doesn't notice the symbolism in the clothing, or know the time periods or history, even, just look at the similarity in the faces, the hairline, the nose, mouth and chin, and even their hands have a similar look.

I think it makes a very convincing argument as to her identity, and a reasonable one, at that. What do you think?

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Losing My Marbles Over Marbles

I have recently fallen in love with painting marbles. The challenge of getting them perfectly round---not just round but getting these little glass globes to look like they have form. Distorting the image of what is behind its round surface, and making the surface look smooth and shiny. Oh, then there is the reflected light on the ground surface that is fun---the intense light in the center and the colored shadow surrounding it.

Prepare to see more of these types of paintings from me. They are intense. Each marble can take two hours to you can imagine how many hours any of these took!
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Saturday, September 5, 2015

Pyrex Pitcher

This was an assignment from my last still life class in college. I love vintage Pyrex pitchers, and have a collection of them. I also love painting the illusion of glass and metal. I am thinking about expanding from this one painting into a series of Pyrex pitchers. What do you think?

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Art Business: I Don't Have Enough Time

One of the biggest excuses we all have for not doing something is this: I don't have time.

We all have 24 hours in a day, we just choose to use them in different ways. The objective is to use those 24 hours on those things which are most important. How much time is spent watching tv, or surfing the internet? How much time do you actually spend on your art, or on marketing your art? According to Constance Smith, author of Art Marketing 101, of the time that an artist sets aside for art, half that time should be spent on marketing. If you think that's a lot, then work up to it, but do work on marketing your art on a regular basis.

If you don't have a schedule or a daily routine which includes creating your art, begin to adjust that now. Set aside a definite amount of time each week for art and marketing. If you don't, you may be shocked to realize how little time you actually spend on art each week. Make time one or two days a week for marketing, and not on the same days that you are creating your art. When you are creating, totally focus on your art without any other distractions.

Once you start showing in a gallery or art festival, you may realize that you aren't producing enough art to keep the show fresh. This is a good sign that you need to spend more time focusing on your art. Just do it! I can finish up to three paintings a week, depending on the time I put into it, whereas before I began disciplining myself, it would take 3 to 6 months to finish one painting.

What keeps you from getting to your art? Too much housework? A job? Kids? Too tired to focus? Start fine tuning your schedule. Figure out what your time-eaters are. These often include computers, tv, phone, and even reading books. I was reading up to 85 books a year, but complained that I had no time for art. I still read, but reading is now a reward for AFTER I have painted.

Housework will always need to be done. Find a stopping point, such as on art day, do a load of laundry, a load of dishes, and vacuum the floor, and then you can start painting. If you have a job, you really have to discipline yourself in your nonworking hours to devote your time to art. But if you are going to get anywhere with an art business, you have to put in the time and energy. If you are too tired, make sure you are getting to sleep at a decent hour. Turn off the TV, computer, or phone. Take a walk earlier in the day, and it can help you sleep. Make sure you are eating properly so you have enough energy. Sometimes it takes just working through the tiredness and just getting in there and doing it, and all of a sudden you have more energy. Setting a timer also helps. Sometimes I will set a timer for an hour of painting, then take a break and do a little housecleaning, then head back to painting again.

I have a hard time getting into my studio to paint. I need  a block of at least two to three hours of solid painting, without interruptions, to feel like I have really accomplished something. I have kids and a husband. I homeschool one of my kids. I get interrupted. I have a house that needs constant attention. Working from my studio at home is somewhat sporadic, but right now I have scheduled to get in two 8 hour days a month painting at a gallery outside my home, and I try to get a few hours painting each week at home. I also spend a few hours each Saturday on marketing, which includes updating my blog, website, and listing art for sale, and tax preparation. I also look for online competitions, regional shows and festivals, and apply for them. How can I make better use of my time?

Some ideas for myself include getting up earlier to get to the gym, set a time and date where I have to go into my studio and create, put a DO NOT DISTURB sign on the door and teach the family to respect that, avoid the computer and phone, delegate housecleaning responsibilities to other family members, and make lists of what needs to be done and when. I am a list person, lists help me think and proceed in a timely manner.

What it boils down to is that you are the only one who knows the chaos in your life, and it's up to you to reign it in to make time for art. No more excuses. Make a monthly goal, a to-do list, schedule, use a timer, find what works best for you and go do it.

There are many books and websites on time management and organization, including:
Time Management for the Creative Person by Lee Silber
Breaking Through the Clutter by Judith Luther Wilder
Working Smart: How to Accomplish More in Half the Time by Michael LeBoeuf

Saturday, August 22, 2015


Many years ago, there was a man named Judah, and he had three sons. The eldest, named Er, married a woman named Tamar. Er was a wicked man, and the God of Israel struck him dead because of his evil ways.
This left Tamar childless, which meant two things: her late husband would have no heir, and Tamar might be left to survive on her own, which was very difficult, if not close to impossible, for single women and widows in those days.
Judah told his second son, Onan, to take Tamar as his wife. If she conceived, that firstborn son would become Er's heir. Onan agreed to marry her, but used means to keep her from becoming pregnant. God saw this, that he was undermining the plan Judah had for Tamar and Er's heritage, and so God struck him down dead.
Judah had one son left, Shelah. He was but a child. It would be many years before he would be old enough to have a wife, so Judah took in Tamar as part of his household, to wait for that day. Tamar, however, had doubts. This son might die after marrying her, too. Was she bad luck? Would he still be able to bear children by the time he was old enough? Would he even want her, or was she wasting her life waiting for this child to grow up? Over time, Shelah, grew into a man, but Tamar becoming his wife was always sidestepped....avoided....
During this waiting period, Judah's wife died. He grieved her death, because he loved her. However, in time, his heart began to heal, and he desired the warmth of a woman's body. Tamar found out that Judah was going to shear his sheep, and when the shepherds did this, often they visited the temple of the local gods, where there were harlots waiting to give them a good time.
Tamar took off her widow's clothes, and dressed herself as a harlot, and presented herself to Judah at a shrine along the way that she set up. Although her face remained veiled, they spent a night of passion together. She asked for payment, and he said he would send her a goat from his flock. She asked for collateral until it was sent. So, he left his seal and its cord, and his staff.
Soon, it was discovered that Tamar was with child. This enraged Judah, and he sentenced her to death for prostitution. (Double standard, there!)
Tamar said, "I am pregnant by the man who owns these," and she brought out the things that Judah gave her. Judah recognized his folly, calling her better than himself. She found a way to give Er an heir, since Judah would not give her in marriage to Shelah. Her life had been spared.
She gave birth to two twins, Perez, and Zerah. Judah took care of her and their sons, for the rest of her life, but he did not sleep with her again.

From Tamar's line came King David, and later on, Jesus Christ.


Saturday, August 15, 2015

Biography: Lorenzo Ghiberti

I  first learned about Lorenzo Ghiberti in an art history class I took in college, and I wrote a paper about the doors he created, The Gates of Paradise, and how they compared to Bernward's Bronze Doors of St. Michael's.

Lorenzo Ghiberti was a shining star of the Early Italian Renaissance, best known for the aforementioned bronze doors of the Florence Baptistery. He was trained as a goldsmith and sculptor, and wrote Commentari, what may be the earliest autobiography of an artist.

Ghiberi was born in 1378 In Pelago, near Florence. His father was Bartoluccio Ghiberti, a goldsmith, who taught his son the trade. Later, he worked for Bartoluccio de Michele, where the famous artist Brunelleschi also trained.

In 1400, the Black Plague struck Florence, and to escape, Ghiberti moved to Rimini, where he helped complete frescoes in the castle of Carlo I Malatesta.
The Sacrifice of Isaac

Most of Ghiberti's career was spent working on commissions for the Florence Baptistery. As a 23 year old, Ghiberti won a competition for the first set of bronze doors, intended to depict scenes from the Old Testament. Many artists competed for this commission, and a jury selected seven semifinalists, including Ghiberti, Filippo Brunelleschi, Donatello, and Jacopo della Quercia. At the time of judging, only Ghiberti and Brunelleschi were finalists; the judges could not decide on one or the other, so they were assigned to work together on the doors. Brunelleschi's pride got in the way, and he went to Rome to study architecture, leaving Ghiberti to work on the doors by himself. Ghiberti's autobiography, however, claimed that he had won, "without a single dissenting voice."

 The original designs of The Sacrifice of Isaac by Ghiberti and Brunelleschi are on display in the museum of the Bargello in Florence. Ghiberti's winning piece depicted the sacrifice of Isaac, but after he received the commission, the plan changed to show scenes from the New Testament instead.

To carry out this commission, Ghiberti set up a large workshop in which many famous artist both trained and worked. When his first set of twenty-eight panels was complete, the church commissioned Ghiberti to create a second set for another doorway in the church, this time with scenes from the Old Testament, as originally intended for his first set. This set of doors displayed ten rectangular scenes in a completely different style. They were more naturalistic, with perspective and  greater idealization. These doors Michelangelo called  the "Gates of Paradise."

Ghiberti finally finished these doors after 21 years of work. These gilded bronze doors consist of twenty-eight panels, with twenty panels depicting the life of Christ. The eight lower panels show the four evangelists and the Church Fathers: Saint Ambrose, Saint Jerome, Saint Gregory and Saint Augustine. The panels are surrounded by a framework of foliage in the door case and gilded busts of prophets and sibyls at the intersections of the panels. Originally they were installed on the east side, but later, they were moved to the north side.

These doors skyrocketed Ghiberti to fame, and he received many commissions. In 1425, he received a second commission for the east doors. He and his assistants worked 27 years on these doors. These had ten panels depicting scenes from the Old Testament. Ghiberti employed the recently discovered principles of perspective to give depth to his compositions. Each panel depicts more than one episode.  The panels are included in a richly decorated gilt framework of foliage and fruit, many statuettes of prophets and 24 busts. The two central busts are portraits of the artist and of his father, Bartolomeo Ghiberti.

Ghiberti was also commissioned to create  gilded bronze statues to be placed within select niches of the Orsanmichele in Florence.

Besides his perseverance in sculpting and casting epic works, Ghiberti made time to collect classical artifacts, and was a historian and a humanist. His "Commentarii" discusses art development from the time of Cimabue through his own art, and gives us thoughts on his own art and times, from his own perspective.

Ghiberti died in Florence on December 1, 1455, at the age of 77. He left us masterpieces that still speak to us today.


Saturday, August 8, 2015

Small Delights

A still life study dealing with using a large amount of negative space in a way that still brings balance to the eye, "Small Delights" is intended to make us appreciate the little pleasures in life--a cup of coffee, a piece of chocolate, or just a few minutes of peace and quiet.

Painted in oil on canvas board, the props for this piece, as with many of my props, are vintage finds, with some wonderful chocolate truffles added, just because I like painting shiny things. I hope you enjoy this, and remember to look for the little moments in life---and therein find a little joy.