Monday, July 26, 2010

July 26, 2010

Well, I'm back from virtual Florence.
The day started out with an email from my friend Lynn, "36 Hours in Florence" New York Times article. This couldn’t be better timing. As usual I had an idea and the universe was at the steering wheel. So I followed their itinerary. I spent time at the Baptistery and Duomo admiring the ceilings and Michelangelo's David, there was so much to see. No traffic, no crowds.
Then I took a break and created a lovely Italian meal with chicken parmesan over pasta, a Tuscan green salad and for desert, tiramisu. While I ate, I watched an opera on Netflix. I forgot to mention the espresso. The afternoon was a delight to the senses. After the opera, I toured the Santa Maria Novella and admired the frescos, and dreamed of creating one of my own someday. More espresso and the off to the gardens of Florence. Then I worked on my DaVinci inspired art piece.
Earlier this week, I read an internet article about the recent examination of the Mona Lisa. Apparently Leonardo accomplished this painting with thirty very thin layers of paint and glaze and that gave me direction on technique.

Mona Lisa examination reveals layers of paint for dreamy quality
Mona LIsa was painted by Leonardo da Vinci early in the 16th century. French researchers have recently learned he used a lot of paint.

This recent undated photo, provided July 16 by the CNRS (National Center of Scientific Research), shows the Mona Lisa painting being examined with a non-invasive technique called X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy to study the thickness of paint layers and their chemical composition. The enigmatic smile remains a mystery, but French scientists say they have cracked some of the Mona Lisa's secrets.
AP Photo/V.A Sol/ESRF

By Associated Press / July 16, 2010
The enigmatic smile remains a mystery, but French scientists say they have cracked a few secrets of the "Mona Lisa.
French researchers studied seven of the Louvre Museum's Leonardo da Vinci paintings, including the "Mona Lisa," to analyze the master's use of successive ultrathin layers of paint and glaze — a technique that gave his works their dreamy quality.
Specialists from the Center for Research and Restoration of the Museums of France found that da Vinci painted up to 30 layers of paint on his works to meet his standards of subtlety. Added up, all the layers are less than 40 micrometers, or about half the thickness of a human hair, researcher Philippe Walter said Friday.
The technique, called "sfumato," allowed da Vinci to give outlines and contours a hazy quality and create an illusion of depth and shadow. His use of the technique is well-known, but scientific study on it has been limited because tests often required samples from the paintings.
The French researchers used a noninvasive technique called X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy to study the paint layers and their chemical composition.
They brought their specially developed high-tech tool into the museum when it was closed and studied the portraits' faces, which are emblematic of sfumato. The project was developed in collaboration with the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility in Grenoble.
The tool is so precise that "now we can find out the mix of pigments used by the artist for each coat of paint," Walter told The Associated Press. "And that's very, very important for understanding the technique."
The analysis of the various paintings also shows da Vinci was constantly trying out new methods, Walter said. In the "Mona Lisa," da Vinci used manganese oxide in his shadings. In others, he used copper. Often he used glazes, but not always.

My daughter Sheena has that enigmatic smile like DaVinci's Mona Lisa. She is my portrait model for my DaVinci inspired piece.
What joy this project brings me.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday, July 23, 2010

Anyone who knows me knows of my unfulfilled passion for travel. To see knew exotic places is my fondest wish. In the midst of my fertile imagination is a fantastic world to be discovered. Then of course there is the real world, my world. So far, the universe has not afforded me the experience of travel, save New Mexico, South Dakota, New York City, Cleveland, Ohio and of course the original travel teaser “ The Bahamas”
So when my clients come back from some faraway place like Italy, Africa, South America, I ask the questions and imagine myself there. It is the poor man’s travel guide, first class all the way.
Recently one of my friends said, "It is every artist obligation to travel to Florence." and so I would if I could. I even got a passport about seven years ago so that if the universe decided to send me I would be prepared. So far there is no travel on the horizon. But that somehow does not stop my mind. I think they use to call that, (back in my days of youth) astro travel.
I am at present eating, sleeping and breathing DaVinci. For me to really connect with someone, I need to find a point of identification. But how does ordinary me identify with extraordinary DaVinci.
I have my inspired art work planned and I continue to get to know him through the pages of recorded history.
Stop the presses!
I have plan
I’m taking a trip to Florence this Sunday.
You may be saying to yourself, I thought she just said that she is not yet traveling due to her personal circumstances, and you would be partially right.
You heard me right; Sunday I am planning a day in Florence.
I am one of those girls that have lived by the motto, where there is a will there is a way. Now stay with me here. No I am not climbing on to an airplane and flying across the ocean to that mystical land of the creative birthplace of the renaissance, but I have never been one to let my meager circumstances limit my enthusiasm and zest for life.
I am having a day of Florentine delight at my home on Sunday. I am going to research the food of the day, 1400's, Florence, Italy, surf the web for video or the culture and landscape of the land , listen to renaissance music and maybe even indulge in some Romanic fiction, Florence style.
DaVincian principle number three- Sensazione- The continual refinement of the senses, especially sight, as the means to enliven experiance.
And so I embark on this new adventure, to experience DaVinci through my senses.

I'll keep you posted!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Saturday, July 19, 2010

About four or five years ago, I started my "bucket list". You know, the list of things you want to do before you die. On the list was to play my guitar and sing at an open mic night. Now you have to picture this, I am the oldest of five girls, and they are all very good singers, they have all been at one time performers in one way or another. Each one at their individual high school graduations, were selected to sing at the graduation ceremony. I love to sing, I love to play my guitar, but I would not say I am at their level of ability.
I also have severe performance anxiety.

So I went to a therapist and underwent a therapy called EMDR.

I sat down in the therapist office and she explained the process. I had the choice of, either, hold in each hand a alternating pulsating disc, or look at a box that had blinking lights flashing back and forth for your eyes to follow, or wearing headphones that alternated in each ear, back and forth. Because I was well acquainted with the severity of this challenge and chose all three. I knew it was going to take something short of a miracle for me to overcome my extreme shyness.
She began to guide me through a relaxation technique, and then she led me through a visual scenario.
“Imagine yourself as a horse, confident, strong, and fearless.” And so I imagined it. Then she said, “you are running through a field, the wind blowing through your mane and you feel good and confident and strong and fearless." My imagination was fully present and I was a horse and I was running through the field.
" Now you are running through a forest and you are feeling strong and confident and fearless and you are jumping over logs and," suddenly while in my mind's eye, I blurted out, "my horse fell" I had in my mind really become the horse and while jumping over the logs I tripped. We both started laughing and I explained what happened. She helped me get back up and we brought the session to an early conclusion.

Oddly, what I took from the session wasn’t talking myself into being confident, strong and fearless, but it’s ok to trip and get myself back up and go on.

A week later I did perform and right out of the shoot, one of my guitar strings went out of tune and I had to retune before I could go on and I was amazingly calm. While tuning my guitar, I told the audience my EMDR story and they were thoroughly amused and it was a good experience.
And I got to take performing at an Open Mic Night off the list. Not to mention, it was alot of fun.

I picked up a book at the book store the other day, "How to think like Leonardo DaVinci" Seven steps to Genius Every Day. Wow, what a great book. I have only started it but I am totally hooked already.

Yes I am one of those self help junkies. Self Help, self taught, self diagnose self-help junky.

In the book it describes seven Da Vincian principles they purpose for everyday use to lead one to their full potential.
The first principle is Curiosita'- An insatiably curious approach to life and an unrelenting quest for continuous learning. (i.e. my blog)
The second principle is Dimostrazione- A commitment to test knowledge through experience, persistence, and a willingness to learn from mistakes. Now there's an ego buster.

When I started this Blog, quite honestly I thought no one would be reading it and just the imagining that someone might stumble across it was good enough for me and anyway this whole project was like singing in the shower, I was doing it for my own personal pleasure and learning. I did not expect much attention about it. Through circumstances, the museum expressed interest and we set up a show for the work produced from my studies when I am done, July 2012. Immediately the walls started closing in., well I'm over it now, I have climbed back up on the horse and we are one and going full steam ahead, lesson learned through another experience.

Monday, July 12, 2010

What's next...

After finishing Frida, I realized I didn't really know where to go next. I have my favorites but I really felt that I needed to consult history. so I started in the present and worked my way back. It was like reading Leviticus, but much more interesting. I would read about an artist and his or her influences and then I would go to those artists and do the same and before I knew it I had walked myself back through history to the Middle ages. I have to say that was an exciting and stimulating exercise. I mapped it out on paper. Then I was able to take the next step.
So this project is trifold, study, write and create.
I am starting my studies in the Renaissance Era. Leonardo and Michelangelo.
Now the fun begins.