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.

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