Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Sourcing the Past

Once I arrived at the Georgia Renaissance Festival, I knew its environment was the most important thing to study. The performances were all very good, but I really got wrapped up in the buildings, the stages, and the presentation of everything. It felt like a world apart from both the "real world", and the festivals I was familiar with. I walked into that fair with a rough idea of how my paintings might look, and I left with source material to create that look.

For example, I knew I was interested in setting my characters against a dark background, but including hints of setting and scenery to give them a context. I found the still life pictured here set up at the gypsy storytellers' stage, and realized it was an example of what I was looking for to contribute to environment. In addition to being items that will reinforce the narrative of the characters they are pictured with, this still life has characteristics which we discussed all the time in Professor Hurlburt's class. It features many different materials, several of which are reflective. It sits on an ornate piece of patterned fabric. The setup is like many Baroque still lives we looked it. I plan on using it to add interest and narrative to a painting, while reinforcing ties to the Baroque and art history.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Come on in and have a drink.

If it's Not Baroque...

From Wikipedia's entry on Baroque Painting:

"As opposed to Renaissance art, which usually showed the moment before an event took place, Baroque artists chose the most dramatic point, the moment when the action was occurring..."

I know, I know... citing Wikipedia in an academic project of any capacity is bringing the proverbial knife to the gun fight. But there's something useful about Wikipedia as a folk taxonomy-- sometimes you're looking for people's perceptions as much as facts. But I digress.

I can attest to the accuracy of this quote, as a recent member of Professor Hurlburt's Baroque art class. Perhaps it was his teaching dynamic as much as the paintings themselves, but this year I have learned to love the Baroque. For my grant project, the Renaissance Festival paintings, I plan on adopting some of the formal Baroque elements that I enjoy in master paintings: drapery, small still lives, drama, interesting composition. However, the above quote addresses another element of why I am emulating the Baroque.

I am playing with "moments" a lot in this series. I have been seeking moments where the present is trying to emulate the past, then taking a photograph to capture the moment, and now sketching and painting from the photographs. Anachronism and the passage of time is absolutely central to this work. If I choose to work in a Renaissance style, it is true that the painting style may more closely align with the subject matter. But I would be giving up some of that struggle, and some of the life and energy of Baroque art. I am looking to honor the performers whom I am depicting in this series because I admire their work and their research. To paint them from a Renaissance mindset would suggest a relationship to these moments that never quite happen. To paint them as Baroque asserts that while the final product is not as historically accurate as it could be, it is simply wonderful for what it is.

I used some of my grant money to buy a DVD called "Faire: An American Renaissance", a documentary following the evolution of the Renaissance Festival. It just arrived, and once I've watched it, I plan to review it here.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Blog Transitions

Towards the end of Advanced Drawing, the question arose of what was to become of our blogs. We were encouraged to keep developing them over the summer -- to especially develop them over the summer, when students struggle to keep working in the absence of class. For me, this means my blog will largely deal with my Friedland grant project. I'm creating a series of paintings that deal with themes of performer, audience, history, and anachronism, within the setting of Renaissance festivals.

I plan on taking my reference photos, like the shot above of Jay and Abby Michaels, The Harper and the Minstrel, and creating some collages to work out compositions. This photo comes from my favorite stage at the Florida Renaissance Festival, where the acts seem to focus more on history and period music. I just got back from the Georgia Renaissance Festival, which has a very different atmosphere, mostly because of their different architecture. Integrating the imagery will be a challenge, but I definitely want the paintings to feel as if they come from the same world.

I'll also be doing some research on Baroque painting. The Baroque style came after the Renaissance, but the paintings are more interesting to me personally, and I may find the disparity useful, as the series is largely about anachronism.
Photos to come, once I've organized them.