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I’m Wanting to Do It al Fresco

I woke up at like 3 am this morning (couldn’t sleep) and decided to put the TV on in an attempt at lulling myself into dreamland. I happened upon this TV special on some PBS-like channel about the Renaissance. They were talking about frescos in particular and about the relationship of Michaelangelo with the deMedicci family of Popes that were in power at the time. Interesting thought was that the artists of this period (Michaelangelo in particular but also others) cited that “anybody could paint in oil, but frescos were the true test of an artist.” Because of the nature of the wet plaster, and the technique of the medium, the artist was left with about 12-15 hours of painting time. In addition, the technique provided that the artist become not only an efficient (downright speedy in fact) painter, but somebody who was a master plasterer.

“Hmm,” I thought to myself, “now I really, really, really want to do a fresco.” In case you’re wondering, no, I’m not in fact, comfortable with being a fast artist. No, I’m not content in just producing a cohesive body of work. No, I actually want to put myself to this new test. To see if I have what it really takes, if I have true chops as an artist. Yes, now I’m wanting to do a fresco.

Sure, photography is somewhat like a cop-out. I mean, a lot of photographers (myself included) become photographers because of the very nature of the medium. I view a photograph as something akin to a blank canvas. I paint if you will be taking pictures. The technology of optics has allowed me (a frustrated painter actually) a faster, more efficient method of creating a painting. It’s not big coincidence that my paintings look like photographs and my photographs look like paintings. But now I’m wanting more. This little PBS special has provided me with a meter if you will. It’s a scale that was available to the great masters, and it’s been hiding for me to stumble upon. I can test myself, my merit as an artist, by crafting a fresco and seeing if I can live up to this little test from the Renaissance. Nothing too complicated, nothing too complex, just a little pop quiz if you will. Try to make a fresco and paint myself out of this one.

Yes, I know it’s really about the vision not not about the chops. Yes, I know it’s the creativity that counts. No, I won’t give up photography, as I enjoy it too much. But there’s something about doing something timeless, something about recreating some art form that existed hundreds of years ago, that really appeals to me. Photography has a big flaw in that it’s a new medium; by technology’s sake, it didn’t come around until the last hundred (OK hundred and fifty or so) years. This robs it of a certain sense of place within other art forms. Piano players can play Bach and enjoy music from hundreds of years ago, and from this they gain a sense of kinship. They are in some ways cananocially entwined with their predecessors. Some could argue that all of the music in all of the world comes down to a single note: “the next one” they would say. Photographers have only work that dates back to 1858. It’s a built-in shortcoming if you ask me. Don’t get me wrong, I still love the medium, but I miss the extended continuity of the message.

If nothing else, working in a new medium will grant me a new appreciation for the media in which I feel most comfortable. I’m looking forward to diverging down a new, strange path if, for nothing else than to gain a new appreciation for my choosen work. Sometimes you can get yourself back on track by wandering off the chosen path and carving out a new frontier. I plan on enjoying the scenery along the way to make the most of the trip.

Until next time, this is Carol, the Carol in “Carol’s Little World” signing off.

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