Sunday, January 13, 2013

Russian Iconography

Andrei Rublev, Trinity, c.1400
One of my favorite forms of art is that of Russian Iconography. I was only familiar and in love with the exquisite detail of their small oil paintings on wood (an example shown above). My relationship  grew and my appreciation deepened last week when I was introduced to a new exhibition of work at the Russian Art Museum. Just as exquisite in miniature detail, the imageries were not painted, but instead cast in copper alloys such as brass and bronze. A few were then decorated with gilding and enamel.   

While I learned about the history of Russia back then and the people who created these wonders, I also caught a glimpse of Artists' perspectives on creating their works. Not only did they embellish the fronts of a casted cross with detail and story, so they also paid attention to the backside with complimentary imagery. I loved being able to see some casts where both sides were exposed to me! And then knowing this unseen side existed, I loved the mystery to other casts throughout the exhibition where the backside was hidden.

This has gotten me thinking. As I have recently come across (in combining my studios) works in progress (specifically tri-fold paintings) where the story could so easily be suggested on the outside of the piece - complimenting what is going on within. I am eager to explore my works in progress further (perhaps this idea is what was needed for me to move a work in progress to completion?!) with what I have witnessed and learned from these 18th-20th century artists (thank you!). I look forward to sharing with you what comes about from this recent influence.......

What recipe?

I've been one to follow the recipe verbatim, each step as it is to be - especially when it comes to cooking. And through this process in the kitchen I have, more often than not, been successful in my creations ~ even becoming well-known in my circle of friends and family as an excellent baker.

I don't know if it is the influence of painting abstractly or if something else has shifted inside of me. I just know I am now suddenly more inclined to wing it. I'm finding the addition of a bit of something (not even called for as an optional ingredient) or the skip of a step or the substitution or the doubling of amounts are all much more exciting to do with a dish than before.....

The "why" (is this taking place?) and the "where" (is this coming from?) really doesn't matter. It is the enjoyment of the process + the slight thrill of what this means for the end product (and with really not a even concern there). The self-encouragement along the way - telling myself that it will just work out as it's meant to be and that this is a lot more fun - completes the new near-daily adventure.

(Let it be said: I do have to rein in this creative urge when it comes to baking (with it's exact nature) as there, there is more often than not, a scientific reason than a rhyme as to why you do what the recipe says).

So with all of that taking place in the kitchen, I have also begun experimenting in the studio. I have to say, so far the experimentation has only been in my mind based off of what I have been reading. Researching recipes of oil painting mediums, referring to blogs and websites pertaining to the intricacies of it all and talking with other artists has me writing up (in my mind) and down (on paper) the possible recipes that could work for me.

There appears to be no right or wrong answer. The question of what ratio of each ingredient (mediums and solvents) is dictated by what I want the concoction to do (be shiny or matte, sticky or smooth in application, dry quickly or slowly etc). Now I feel I have come up with 2 slightly different recipes worth trying. I just need to purchase the mediums and then measure and mix it all together.

I'm excited to have reached this step and even more eager to combine my new formulas with paint on canvas. I plan to work on 2 different canvases, one with each medium, so that I can see and feel the similarities and differences. The idea is, by my observations and note-taking, I will be able to fine-tune the ratios, creating for me a perfect combination of the two recipes...... So as always, stay tuned!