Choosing a subject:
For this part of the course a focus on the method of chiaroscuro requires choosing an image or painting from the Renaissance period for study. To ‘find a subject containing a figure or figures based on either a Renaissance painting or a photograph you have taken yourself’, I began by visiting my local library. I found three books of interest on the Renaissance period and specific artists within that movement. They were as follows;
- Renaissance, by Christopher Masters
- Botticelli by Susan Legouix
- Van Eyck The Complete Works by Amanda Simpson
I made an initial quick scan through these books for examples of works which had interesting shapes, tonal contrasts and clothing or draperies. I left little page markers on the images that seemed to best fit that description.
You can see these images in the photographs below:
I thought ‘The Arnolfini Portrait’ could be an interesting choice given the two central figures, and the drape of their garments particularly the ladies dress. However I am put off by the challenge of converting the rich tones of the painting into three or four tones of varying light/darkness. I felt like there might be other images better suited to this task so onto the next image.
I was slightly taken by the folds of the turbans or head garments in ‘Adoration of the Magi’, they seems to be quite a dominant feature in the painting. But my concern was capturing skin tone with a limited tonal print – this could look really terrible if done badly, and I’m not sure I trust my ability to pull it off.
I considered ‘Pieta’, even though it’s a sculpture and not a painting because there’s a great sense of flow and movement created by the draping of the garments around the two figures. I also think there’s some interesting tonal areas, however I worry that there’s not really a clear mid-tone for re-creating when printing.
I felt like ‘Fortitude’ was a strong contender, there are some clear light, mid and dark toned areas, created by draperies and the architecture around the central figure. But some of the details are incredibly fine, I worried that this would be too great a challenge to undertake for a first chiaroscuro print.
The final piece I looked at is the one I will attempt to make a chiaroscuro print from, its a part of ‘The Ghent Altarpiece’ (see photo above for reference). I think its a painting made to resemble or capture figures sculpted in stone. I like the framing of the two figures, with the darker recesses providing some dark tonal areas, whilst I believe there’s mid and lighter tones in in the figures facial features and draped garments.