17 February 2015

Pascal Amblard- summer painting classes in San Francisco

Quadrattura ceiling design by Pascal Amblard
It is with great excitement that I can announce that I have the honor of hosting my friend the master muralist Pascal Amblard, for two mural painting classes at Lynne Rutter Studio in San Francisco.

Tiepolo-inspired painting by Pascal Amblard
You've read more about Pascal Amblard's work here before, and hopefully bought his amazing book, Painted Homes, which explores the wide variety of his elegant work as a muralist and decorator.

A sought-after mural artist working internationally from his studio in la Haute-Savoie,  Pascal is also well known as a generous and skilled teacher. It's been many years since he taught in the U.S., so I am thrilled to host him in my own mural studio for two special painting classes this summer.

sketch of Lake Como mural by Pascal Amblard

July 27-31, 2015    
Five-day Italianate Mural workshop
Participating artists will paint a full-size trompe l'oeil mural scene with a view of Lake Como and a charming Italian landscape,  while learning the key elements of mural painting.

"A beautiful landscape seen through a window or a door is certainly the most classic but also the most sought after type of trompe l'oeil mural. It is also a great support for a class, and this is why, as a teacher, I have specialized in this kind of composition. I can fit and transmit almost all my knowledge into such arrangements. Skies, landscapes, trees, water, foreground elements like balustrades or architectural elements, perspective, and tiled floors, all these things are exactly what you have to become familiar with and a nice panel like the one we will paint together contains them all.Each time I create a class like this I have three goals:
"The first one is to teach you how I paint and this is independent of what I paint. Key techniques are exactly the same whether you paint a tree or a bench.  The second one is to tell you about what is really specific to (for example) painting a cloud, or a tiled floor.  The third is, for those of you who want it, to make sure that you can complete the panel during the week and use it as a marketing tool or as a piece to sell.
"The design for this mural was composed from three or four different shots I took on lake Como a few years ago. This place is absolutely magic, a kind of ideal mix of the softness of Italian landscapes and of the grandeur of the Alps. I am sure we will have great results!"

Information and sign-up here: Italianate Mural class

August 3- 10, 2015
Seven day Grand Venetian Mural Intensive
This course will give the experienced painter an opportunity to work at a grand scale, employing many advanced techniques.

A preview of the type of composition we will create together ; the architecture and landscapes are borrowed from Tiepolo's frescoes in Palazzo Labbia, and the figures from his son, Giandomenico. We will use similar elements and come up with our own murals.
Pascal says:"After more than 25 years in this business I am finally organizing a "start from scratch" class.
"It is certainly the most valuable learning situation for students, and the most difficult for a teacher. I will of course prepare this class very carefully, I have already  spent quite a few hours on it~ but on day one, hour one, instead of starting to play a well mapped out part,  I will start improvising with you!   I know in which key we will play and what note to use or to avoid but I will be open to your ideas and suggestions. I will show you how I myself compose, mixing computer and centuries-old techniques.
We will share and experience together in what is so rarely taught: how do we get from a blank piece of wall to a spectacular, harmonious and desirable mural composition.

"Once the composition is set we will use projectors, possibly some free-hand drawing as well.  Then we will paint, and I will teach you the techniques I have used and refined through hundreds of murals.
As we have a lot of working space, we will do this on a grand scale.  Each person will have room to work comfortably.

"A good mural painter has to know about a few  topics : skies, landscapes / trees, architecture / perspective , figures / draperies , objects / still lives.  Besides composing a large and complex mural, the point of this class is also to cover  all these fields.

"The inspiration for this course is Tiepolo (father and son).
I chose them because I think they are lesser-known geniuses, but mostly because they were in exactly the same business as we are: dealing with commissions, clients, deadlines, a need for efficiency and precise schedule. The way they paint is beautiful and technically very sound, so, instead of one teacher you will have two."

Reservation information here:  Grand Venetian Mural Intensive
This class is limited to 8 participants
Previous experience:  past students of Pascal Amblard's classes and experienced mural painters will be given priority.

Here is a rare opportunity to learn and practice in a large, light-filled working mural studio with one of the true masters of this art.

Please feel free to contact the studio with questions or for application details.

25 January 2015

Every wand'ring bark

Sunset at Land's End, San Francisco
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove 

John Roddam Spencer Stanhope Love and the Maiden, 1877  Legion of Honor, San Francisco

O no, it is an ever-fixèd mark,

North tower of the Golden Gate Bridge
That looks on tempests, and is never shaken
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
Sea Monster from the baroque set painted for my wedding in 2010

William Shakespeare, Sonnet 116


03 January 2015

Ancient Patterns: Battistero di San Giovanni

detail of the mosaic floor, Baptistry, Florence
I collect patterns and details.  I just do.  I will spend over an hour staring at the floor in a dark historic site while everyone else is snapping shots of the famous gold mosaic ceiling and walking through the other side in less than 5 minutes on their way to the next famous spot. Then I will go back and do it again the next day. And maybe the next as well.
You understand why I do this.  Of course you do, that's why you are here.

mosaic marble floor in the Baptistry, Florence
mosaic marble floor in the Baptistry, Florence

The Baptistry of St. John is one of Florence's oldest buildings, having been built on the remains of 4th century octagonal church which was built on the remains of a Roman-era tower.  The present building dates from 1059, and the intricate marble mosaic floors were added circa 1209.  
Surprisingly, the oldest ornamental patterns in this space are also the most modern-looking. 

mosaic marble floor in the Baptistry, Florence
mosaic marble floor in the Baptistry, Florence
mosaic marble floor in the Baptistry, Florence
mosaic marble floor in the Baptistry, Florence
mosaic marble floor in the Baptistry, Florence
mosaic marble floor in the Baptistry, Florence
Similar patterns are also found in St. Mark's in Venice and other Romanesque and Byzantine interiors, many of them influenced by ancient Oriental and Arabic designs.
All of these patterns are unified in this room only by their limited palette of red, black, and white (with the occasional yellow). They are laid out on the floor in an asymmetrical grid divided by borders, with little or no repeated elements;  a marvelous collection of  flat but intricate designs that create a rich atmosphere indeed.

mosaic marble floor in the Baptistry, Florence

mosaic marble floor in the Baptistry, Florence
mosaic marble floor in the Baptistry, Florence
mosaic marble floor in the Baptistry, Florence
mosaic marble floor in the Baptistry, Florence

If you can believe it, there are even more photos of these floors in my Flickr album: Battistero di San Giovanni, Firenze

need more now?

Modern mosaic floors at New Ravenna

Dover Edition: Historic Designs and Patterns in Color from Arabic and Italian Sources


23 November 2014

The Beauty of Austerity

Renaissance courtyard featuring arches supported by classical pietra serena columns
Many of you know me as a "more is more" kind of gal,  but I can assure you, I do admire minimalism, and respect the clean, empty space of purpose when I see it.  The lovely courtyard above is found behind the (magnificent) AquaFlor perfume shop, in the Palazzo Serristori Corsini Antinori in Florence (circa 1520.)
All around Florence are beautiful examples of simple, austere architecture, a good many of them designed by Brunelleschi such as the Ospedale degli Innocenti, and the churches Santo Spirito and San Lorenzo. The look is created with simple plaster walls supported by columns and mouldings of pietra serena, the native sandstone, and of course, excellent proportions.

San Felicita- a Baroque remodel still retains the calm
Despite being crammed with colorful art (generally added later) most of the Renaissance interiors in Florence retain a calm environment and a cool serenity that begs you to listen, wait, breathe.  It's a formula that works as well in later architecture, and I think it's the defining architectural style of Florence, even today.

The most notable example of this austere architecture I can find is the Pazzi Chapel, (if not designed then certainly influenced) by Brunelleschi, completed in 1460 in the first cloister of the Basilica of Santa Croce.  It is simply the most composed, serene, purest example of Renaissance architecture in Florence. It speaks directly to the desire for simplicity, and peace, and all sorts of ideals about geometry, order, and being bigger than the sum of one's parts. 

Interior dome of the Pazzi Chapel, Santa Croce
I was floored by this breathtaking space the first time I set foot in it (in 1980, under the guidance of my mentor Dr. Otto Mower) and regularly return when in Florence for a dose of mind-clearing symmetry.

Altar, Pazzi Chapel, Santa Croce.  Where's that light coming from?
These last two photos were taken in February while I hovered in and around Sta Croce during a lighting storm, awaiting word of my father's condition after he had emergency surgery thousands of miles away. I could think of no better place to keep it together.  I got the message, don't go to pieces, it's not all up to you.
OK so I was finished with this post, and then I heard about THIS:
Opera di Santa Croce Firenze, the non-profit institution that operates and maintains the Franciscan church has announced a crowd-funding campaign to restore the loggia that forms the entrance to the Pazzi Chapel.

The ornamented loggia of the Pazzi Chapel - photo Marco Badiani
This 15th century loggia is an important document in Florence's architectural history, a sampler of every Renaissance feature you can shake a stick at:  a cupoletta by Luca della Robbia; lacunaria with carved rosettes; a terra cotta frieze border of cherubs; classic columns; borders of dentils, guilloche, acanthus, egg and dart, and basically the whole nine yards.   Austere? Serene?  Non c'è modo!  More of a celebration of everything going on at the time.  More is more!  
These details are now literally falling apart and require immediate attention.  

- Read more about the Pazzi Chapel and the restoration efforts at the fabulous ArtTrav blog.
- Donate to the only Kickstarter campaign ever to be launched by a 720 year old church!  UPDATE:  FUNDED!
- Join the TwitterChat and share your thoughts:  Monday, November 24, 2014  at 10pm CET | 4pm EST | 1 pm PST

photos in this post by Lynne Rutter unless otherwise noted
Many of these architectural terms are in the Glossary!


14 September 2014

La Bottega dell'Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore

La bottega dell'opera di Santa Maria del Fiore
Just behind the Duomo, on the narrow street Via dello Studio,  is a noticeably short building at no. 33,  with a wide glass window and doorway.  Look inside at La Bottega dell'Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore, the light-filled workshop where features of the Duomo and Baptistry are maintained and restored: an old statue being reproduced, mosaic borders and tracery windows being repaired. 

A few steps away at no 19 is the wonderful art supply shop Zecchi.

Firenze, March 2014


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