Tuesday, November 27, 2007
I frequently joke about how space-challenged I am: if a measurement is over 11x17 inches I just have a hard time picturing what the dimension is. This defect is from years of working in in-house graphics departments that had small budgets and small press runs. At the same time, however, I find that I am equally challenged by anything under about 5x6 inches. With that introduction, let me share the beginnings of a recent 4x4 chunky book project.
The theme for the book was (still is--I've now mailed them and wait for the book to return assembled and bound) angels, which is a favorite subject for me. I've made several fabric angels, and love looking at the many Byzantine, Renaissance and Baroque paintings that include angels of all kinds. I've been teaching the fourth grade class about lines, shapes and patterns recently, so my first thought was to combine a Byzantine-inspired angel with a patterned border and the text--all done in rich colors resembling Pietro Lorenzetti's frescoes in San Francesco with lots of gold. But I couldn't get the elements to come together the way I wanted, so the next idea was to focus on the angel, but it kept looking like an Annunciation, which wasn't my verse. I finally sketched a copy of a lovely angel head by Pietro da Cortona (hmm, is there a Pietro theme emerging here?). Being rather pleased with the sketch, I began to flesh it out, which is how my 4x4 project ended up 20x20 inches. Oops!
Photographing it didn't help, so I finally re-drew it much smaller and simpler, photocopied the outlines and then proceeded with the hand-coloring, etc. I was pleased with the result, although I am also chunky-challenged so my pages aren't very dimensional. Oh well--at least it's the right size! Here's a photo of the large angel. I have since redone the wings to look both more bird-like and more like the lovely wings on so many Renaissance angels. I really like the colorful wings on so many of the angels from that time period. Fra Angelico and many of the Northern artists(here and here) really went crazy with the colors. And don't miss van Eyck's angels from the Ghent Altarpiece, which I have heard are the only angels in Northen Renaissance art without wings.