ANTIQUITY IN SPAIN & PORTUGAL

ANTIQUITY IN SPAIN & PORTUGAL

Alfama, Portugal is Lisbon's oldest district made famous for it's tight winding corridors and for having been one of the few neighborhoods to survive the devastating earthquake of 1755. Photo by Laura Pastores from Westminster College. - See more at: http://www.semesteratsea.org/2013/10/14/student-photo-gallery-portugal-and-spain/#sthash.Fr8RfmW1.dpuf

Alfama, Portugal  Lisbon’s oldest district made famous for it’s tight winding corridors and for having been one of the few neighborhoods to survive the devastating earthquake of 1755. Photo by Laura Pastores from Westminster College.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spain and Portugal . . . according to history, the two countries intermarried, so when Isabella pawned her jewels to raise funds for discoveries of new lands, it brought them great wealth. Portuguese Vasco da Gama rounded the Cape of Good Hope to India and brought untold wealth to his nation.

Statue in Seville, Spain near the city's main cathedral. Photo by Aylin Ozyigit from Pennsylvania State University. - See more at: http://www.semesteratsea.org/2013/10/14/student-photo-gallery-portugal-and-spain/#sthash.zhehSAUK.dpuf

Statue in Seville, Spain near the city’s main cathedral. Photo by Aylin Ozyigit from Pennsylvania State University. – See more at: http://www.semesteratsea.org/2013/10/14/student-photo-gallery-portugal-and-spain/#sthash.zhehSAUK.dpuf

In the latter years of the 15th century, the Portuguese, by an astounding expansion of their shipping, obtained their Indian, African, Chinese, and Brazilian colonies, and discovered the Azores. Portugal became one of the great empires of the world. Within the next century the Spanish conquistadors, Cortez and Pizarro, conquered Mexico and Peru, and for a century, Spanish galleons returned to Cadiz loaded with quantities of silver and gold. The ships that sailed under the Portuguese banner returned to Lisbon with the spices, silks, porcelains, and other products of both the East and the West of Europe. You see, Portugal was at intervals under the Crown of Spain but this arrangement was never acceptable to her people. She finally regained her independence and her former empire in 1665, but her people are of the same racial and cultural origins as those of Spain; her language is easily understood by the Spaniard and differs less than Catalan and Basque from the best Castilian.

Iberian Chair

Iberian Chair heavily carved in the stretchers and back splats.

 

I found the furnishings and the decorative arts of Spain and Portugal to be closely parallel. Although it does seem that the Spanish have somewhat more delicacy in their furnishings. Spain and Portugal were separated from the rest of Europe by the Pyrenees, so influence was predominantly North African, or Moorish. Both countries also had strong economic and political ties with the East, Oriental and Indian influences can be seen in Iberian furniture.

 

 

 

 

Spanish Vargueno

Spanish Vargueno closed

A fall-front desk of the 16th, 17th, and early 18th centuries, having the form of a chest upon a small table.

The Spanish nobility led a relatively nomadic existence, so furniture had to be portable. Most furniture

Vargueno open

Vargueno open

was made of local walnut. Cabinets, or varguenos, had handles on the sides so that they could be lifted on or off stands. During the 16th century varguenos had been luxury items, but they became more common during the 17th century.

My interior design career took me all over the world. This gave me the opportunity to see and touch furnishings and the decorative arts of the early centuries. The Metropolitan Museum is a close second to my travels, where I brought friends and clients to experience antiquity, where you can see, but don’t touch. The Hispanic Museum in New York is another  learning place for antiquity. It’s where I first found a cabinet with secret compartments that I thought I originated. But, no, this clever cabinet idea was designed in the 12th century.   Building storage into a wall, or between two lally columns, and hiding the doors in some tricky, clever way. You’ve seen concealed places in the movies, even a secret room behind the library shelves. Doesn’t Harry Potter stories have secret places like these?

My artist friends who are going to Toledo, Spain with the great artist and workshop instructor, David Dunlop, will be hosted by the local El Greco museum. They are in for a treat, surrounded by antiquity. Opened in 1911, the museum is located in Toledo’s Jewish Quarter. It consists of two buildings: a 16th-century house with a courtyard, and an extension dating from the early 20th century. The two share a garden. The museum houses numerous works by El Greco, especially from this brilliant painter’s last period, as well as canvases by other 17th century Spanish painters, furniture from the same era and pottery from Talavera de la Reina.

Any questions? Ask away . . .

WHITE – A PRACTICAL SOLUTION?

WHITE – A PRACTICAL SOLUTION?

Ingres’ Bather of Valpinςon

White can be blinding. White can disrupt your thinking. White can be tiresome. According to Faber Birren’s book “Color & Human Response,” white can be bleak, emotionless, sterile. K. Warner Schaie, in discussing the pyramid test in which wide assortments of colors are placed on black-and-white charts, noted that incidence of the use of white by schizophrenic patients was 76.6 percent as again 29.1 percent for supposedly normal persons. So anyone who places white first perhaps needs psychiatric attention. It would be better to dislike white, but here again few persons are encountered who so express themselves.

Ingres’ Bather of Valpinςon is the calm representation of Classical beauty in the human nude. Notice the varying shades of white in Ingres’ painting. White and light colored skin is, depending on the artist, a few chosen pigments  and white. Notice the white covering over the settee, there are other colors in it. Can you see them? There are hundreds of variations of white.

Then when is white a practical solution?

Untitled by Franz Kline, a canvas  covered in white variations

White for the artist. For the watercolor artist, white paint is not necessary. I have never used white in my watercolors, because you can lighten your colors with water. And, you can leave the white of the paper in your painting for the white areas.  For the oil or acrylic painter, mix the white into color to lighten, or for pastel, add color to white.

Sounds pretty easy, doesn’t it?  It isn’t hard, but you need more information if you use white in more than one color. White can make mud out of your paint. Pastel painters have scads and scads and scads of color sticks as do oil painters who have gazillion tubes of paint from the lightest to the darkest in almost every color. So why do you need white? It’s possible to use white in your mixes, especially if you add white to lighten only one color. If you add white to more than one color, it can muddy up your work, the same as cadmium yellow can. We talked about cad yellow in last week’s blog with David Dunlop. More mixing meant less light bounced back to the eye and resulted in a weak color effect. Mixing opaque colors together is called subtractive mixing because it subtracts light. http://gailingis.com/wordpress/?p=2252.

Your intent was to lighten, but instead, it deadened. Deadened with

Sculpture in glass by Tony Cragg, All white sculpture, mixture of textures

opaque pigment. But it takes time to learn what makes beautiful mud. Yes, there is such a thing as beautiful mud. You always want your colors to be rich, to glow, to evoke emotion. To confuse the issue, white comes in several variations, some of which are: Flake White, Ivory White, Zinc White, Titanium White and the combo of Zinc White and Titanium White. The properties of these paints vary.

According to Ralph Mayer’s The Artist’s Handbook of Materials and Techniques, Fifth Edition, Revised and Updated, titanium pigment has the greatest opacity and tinctorial power of any of the whites. Titanium is the most important opaque white pigment in current use. An extremely dense, powerful opaque white of high refractive index and great hiding power. Absolutely inert, permanent.  Flake White is stiff, and Ivory White is fluid, both are semi-opaque and good for touching-up and mixing. According to Winsor & Newton, Zinc is less opaque, making it ideal for tints and glazing, however, it dries to a brittle film that can crack.

White room, varied whites and mixture of textures

White for your home/office. The everlasting question to me as an interior designer is, “should I paint my kitchen white?” My answer is always, “NO.” Not pure white. If your preference is to make it look bright and clean and you think white is the answer, here’s mine. Paint your walls off-white, like Benjamin Moore’s 966 or 969 (I call them greige, 969 is the lighter of the two), or something with a little more pizzazz, like BM’s 860 that is in-between white and gray. The finish on the walls should be Eggshell finish. Ceiling, super white flat. All the trim can be a bright semi-gloss white. Now the room has that sparkle you are looking for and stays clean for years. And, you can have your white cabinets, but in Benjamin Moore’s Dove White. Never use pure white on a large expanse of space like the walls, cabinets, or floors. With these combinations, you have contrasting surfaces and varying textures giving your kitchen interest as well as beauty.

Can you see the correlation between white for art and white for the home? Did you discover the white you never knew? What does white mean to you?

 

 

YELLOW – A PRIMARY PIGMENT

YELLOW – A PRIMARY PIGMENT

Vincent Van Gogh “Starry Night”

David Dunlop has a unique approach to teach art. That’s probably because his studies about art have a unique approach. David told me that he researches, reads and visits venues with art exhibitions. He analyzes and figures out how artists of the past operated. That’s going back to caves, cultures, and creations throughout history.

Today’s speak is about the warm and cheerful color yellow, from an artist’s point of view (POV), rather than from the interior design POV. So let’s hear what David, the artist, has to say about the color yellow.

David Dunlop summer afternoon workshop Amblers Farm

By the way, every workshop David teaches consists of an hour lecture about art, mostly from the intellectual POV, followed by a small painting in support of his lecture. So much fun!

Yellow!

 

A color associated with Earth, as one of the four elements. Known to be the imperial color of the Kahns or the color of the light of Eden. Yellow as a pigment has history that varies in use from ancient Egyptian sulfur to synthetic 20th century translucent Hansa acrylic yellows.

A strong favorite of Turner, in the 19thcentury, was lead chromate or chrome yellow as well as the fugitive (fast fading) aureolin yellow. Turner also favored the translucent organic gamboge, from Cambodia, for its glazing ability. Winslow Homer, like Turner, had a preference for aureolin yellow for his watercolors.

David with his yellows. Could be gamboge or aureolin, both transparent.

yellow-orpiment-menk

The Renaissance painters relied on the toxic yellow orpiment made from poisonous arsenic because of its promise to imitate a golden effect, according to Cennino Cennini’s Book of Art (Libro Dell’Arte of 1396).

Popular with artists is the stable and abundant pale yellow ochre, mined from earthen deposits in France. At times, yellow ochre was mixed by Renaissance artists with expensive powdered gold to give golden highlights.

Cadmium yellow, opaque and potent, was first available to artists in the last quarter of the 1800s. Impressionists and neo-impressionists were crazy for it because it gave a strong yellow hue effect. If you like to apply the paint thick, pure and opaque like the Impressionists, cadmium yellow was made for you. The other new 19th century yellow was chrome yellow. It was brilliant when thinly applied to white ground, but it was fugitive.

Vincent Van Gogh wrote to his brother Theo expressing concern about the permanence of the new vivid colors, but he concluded that maybe some fading would give a beneficial effect and help to soften and harmonize what he feared were overly strong colors. Chief among the strong new colors was the opaque cadmium yellow. Cadmium yellow was an odd color revealing itself as pure because it only reflected a very narrow slice of the visible spectrum. Cadmium yellow was great at absorbing all the other colors of light except for a pure yellow. This meant cadmium yellow appeared intense and rich. But if you mixed it with another color then the narrow slice of pure yellow collapsed and the beholder only would find a dull yellowish, greenish gray or a yellowish orange at best. At worst it became a light-sucking grayed brown. Yechhh!

Impressionist painters were determined to limit the mixing of cadmium yellow with white and as little else as possible. More mixing meant less light bounced back to the eye and resulted in a weak color effect. Mixing opaque colors together is called subtractive mixing because it subtracts light. Van Gogh applied his paint thick and often undiluted to insure the strongest color effect. Artists like Van Gogh might mix the cadmium yellow with white to give the color a quality of halation as seen in the painting example.

Unlike cadmium yellow, gamboge is a translucent color. When viewed as a thick glob of paint, it appears warm, not bright and with a tendency to list toward green unlike a glob of cadmium yellow. But when thinly applied to white ground it appears much more yellow. That’s how Turner used it. As light bounces off the white ground and back through the glaze of gamboge it brightens the sensation of yellow. The thinner the gamboge yellow, the greater the sensation of yellow. The thicker the gamboge yellow becomes, the less the sensation of yellow for the viewer.

Yellow light in News Stand-oil on anodized aluminum 24×48

Amateurs keep adding more yellow and wonder why they are getting a duller effect as they keep subtracting light by adding more pigment. In David’s second image, he offer a gamboge based yellow in varying degrees of thickness, providing varying degrees of yellow, applied to a white enamel anodized aluminum surface.

Yellow Flora in a Florida Marsh-oil on linen 36×36

In his third image, he uses gamboge on oil primed linen, the thinner he makes the glaze of yellow the brighter the yellow of the leaves appears to be. Hermann Von Helmholtz advised artists in order to generate the strongest sensation of spectral opposites in paint they should contrast yellow and blue paint.

Diagrammed image

In his diagrammed image, he has circled areas where he has engineered the blue to be set against the yellow of the leaves. This helps propel the yellow of the leaves toward the viewer.

Visit David’s website. There you will find his DVD’s, his lectures and his blog link. He is a busy artist. He gives of his time and talents to support a cross-section of venues.  http://www.daviddunlop.com.

Do you like to wear yellow? How has yellow touched your life? Did you know that the color yellow attracts bees? I don’t mean flowers, I mean like a yellow blouse or shirt? Have you ever worn something yellow to a picnic? Ouch!

* Beautiful Blogger Award *

* Beautiful Blogger Award *

Yay! Its Thursday and I have some good news to share.

Beautiful Blogger Award

Marian Lanouette, writer, has passed The Beautiful Blogger Award to me. I am pleased, honored and grateful. Thank you for poking me Marian! Marian writes mysteries with romantic elements. Her first novel and the first in the series, If I Fail, A Jake Carrington Mystery, will be released in September 2012 by MuseItUp Publishing. Marian is from Brooklyn like me. Yay Brooklyn. Check out Marian at www.marian-l.blogspot.com.

And another thank you to Casey Wyatt, whom I think awarded it to me a few months ago.  But I wasn’t ready to accept such a distinguished standing. She publishes two posts every Friday. If you have a chance check out her blog at CaseyWyatt.com and Secrets of 7 Scribes blog, you’ll be glad you did.

Life is busy for me, always; great and grinding, I seem to find it easy to dig my own grave. Digging out is difficult, but not when you are creating and sharing like when I am doing this blog.

And here are the rules for the award, which I’m not going to follow to the letter. I like to create my own rules now and then.

Rule 1 – Share seven things about me.  I’ll do six.

1. The first is above. I like to tailor the rules from time-to-time.

2. I am bionic. Pins hold me together at the hip and my tennis-serving arm.

3. But I maintain my membership in the professional tennis teaching United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA). I taught tennis for twenty years. The painting below is in the USPTA Houston headquarters.

USPTA Watercolor by Gail Ingis Claus

4. We own three cars, but there are only two of us.

5. I failed history in High School, but I founded a school of interior design and had to teach it!

6. My favorite book is “Gone with the Wind.” And I am writing an Historic Romance.

Gone With the Wind image from the movie

Rule 2 – The next rule is to pass the award to seven bloggers. I am passing it on to five.

The award is passed to:

1. Katy Lee, Katy is a published writer and hard working dedicated home-school teacher. See more here:  www.katyleebooks.com.

2. Kate Rothwell, Kate is a multi-talented published author. She has worked as a service manager/parts runner in a Saab garage, and much, much more. See more here: www.katerothwell.com.

3.Thea Devine,Thea is the author whose books defined erotic historical romance.  Romantic Times calls her “The Queen of Erotic Romance,” Affaire de Coeur: “… the divine mistress of sensual writing …”  www.theadevine.com

4. Julianne Stirling, ASID, (American Society of Interior Designers). Julianne is an interior designer extraordinaire, President of her own company. You can find her blog in her website links. www.stirlingdesignassociates.com.

5. David Dunlop, David is an amazing artist, lecturer and teacher. He shares his knowledge and artistic skills with his students. His students follow him here in the USA and across the seas. www.paintingclass.net/blog.

Do you have a favorite most beautiful blog?

This was fun and a change of blog direction. Last week was the start of color, come back next week for more.

 

PORTALS

PORTALS

There is no separation between art and architecture. Except for movement through space . . . visual or physical.

Biltmore Gardens in springtime

Yesterday in my art workshop, David Dunlop’s lecture and demonstration was about portals. David is an amazing artist, scholar,  purveyor of dreams. He inspired this blog.

Everyday, every time we move through a space, it is usually through a portal, a doorway, an opening, a defined path, all perhaps leading to the light. We are drawn to the light.

In Alberti’s S. Andrea edifice below, the entrance is a Romanesque portal with its typical rounded arch. All portals have a shape of some kind, relative to the era and country. The Romanesque period was from actually approximately 800 A.D. to 1100 A.D. The portal with its rounded arch was used throughout history, as you can see here. This one, in Italy, was created in the15th century.

S. Andrea in Mantua, Italy by Leon Battista Alberti 15th century. Portal arch is Romanesque

I think a portal could also be an obvious path leading somewhere. I couldn’t resist the picture of the Biltmore Gardens in springtime above. And the light . . . look at the light. The light pulls you into the garden.

Have you had any experience with portals? How many have you seen or walked through that changed you, your views, or your life?

 

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