Rococo Rose

Klagenfurt Cathedral- side chapel
I'm off to Klagenfurt, Austria for the premier of the Maestro's latest.  Here is a sneak peak of the frothy confection of the cathedral there!
plaster ornament in Klagenfurt Cathedral
What is it about that perfect rose color used in Rococo interiors?  It's just  lovely.

photos by Lynne Rutter,  Klagenfurt, June 2011


We're having a Ball- and you're invited!

This year marks the 30th anniversary of Artistic License, a San Francisco guild of period revival artisans of which I am a proud member. To celebrate this milestone, we are throwing a gala party- the Artisans Ball - and you are invited!
our beautiful invitation was designed by Steve Bauer of Bradbury and Bradbury Art Wallpapers, after a design by Walter Crane.
This special event is a benefit for the historic Bayview Opera House, San Francisco's oldest theater and a vibrant center for community and arts programs.  
Please join me, and and the members of Artistic License, the San Francisco design and preservation communities, our friends and patrons,  for the Artisans' Ball-  where there will be music and dancing, food and drink, and a celebration of San Francisco history! 

Saturday,  December 8, 2012 7 -11 PM
at the very elegant Green Room  
San Francisco War Memorial Veterans Building

Tickets available at  www.ArtisansBall.org

tickets and donations are tax-deductible


Vienna on my mind

Interior of Peterskirche, Wien
In December the Maestro has a commission for the Klagenfurter Ensemble premiering on December 6.  Hmmm, what a lovely ulterior motive to have Christmas in Austria. Even better, one of my oldest friends is coming all the way from New Zealand to meet us there!
I'm looking forward to a great big shot of Baroque inspiration, with lots and lots of gold leaf...
So here are a couple of moments in the beautiful Peterskirche in Vienna.
anamorphic trompe l'oeil dome over the altar
This fabulous confection was designed by Johann Lukas von Hildebrandt and features a dome and interior by Matthias Steinl filled with marble, stuc-marmor, painted faux marbre, carved figural pews, and plenty of gilding - as well as plenty of trompe l'oeil gilding. The painted decor and murals by Johann Michael Rottmayr replaced earlier efforts by Andrea Pozzo. (Can you can believe that?) 

photos in this post by Lynne Rutter, Vienna, 2007
click on images to view larger
more nice images of the Peterskirche
Uksus  Kammeroper von Erling Wold: opens December 6, 2012 in Klagenfurt, Austria


Studio Visit: Atelier de la petite écurie, Château de Versailles

Cherub from the chamber of the queen, carved by Fanchelli and gilt à la grecque by Daniel Sievert.  photo: Lynne Rutter 

A fascinating and integral part of my work is the restoration of historic buildings, surfaces, furniture, and antiques.  It's not my primary business these days, but it inspires and informs my work and the techniques I employ every day.  When I travel I am excited to see the work of other restoration artisans, so I am especially thrilled to share with you my visit to the Château de Versailles, more specifically,  this glimpse inside the atelier of the gilder-restorers. 
Laurent Hissier and Daniel Sievert. photo by Jerôme Hissier
I met gilder and decorative painter Laurent Hissier via the internet, and in 2007 made a visit to Versailles to meet him and see his work at the palace. My friends and I were given a warm welcome by Laurent and his mentors, master gilder Daniel Sievert and renowned decorative painter Pierre Lefumat, and treated to a stunning backstage tour of some of the non-public parts of the palace.  I felt an immediate and strong affinity for these kindred spirits; their commitment to their work is so inspiring.  They are but a few of the nearly one thousand people working in relative anonymity to care for this spectacular palace.
Standing in a small bedroom, in what might be called the attic, crammed with broken gilt chairs and other odd bits of furniture that are more or less priceless, Laurent remarked that this a life’s work that is never finished. This is why it is so important to pass on the knowledge. 
restoration in progress of a gilt wood bench. photo: Lynne Rutter
Laurent and I kept up a correspondence via email, while I anxiously anticipated the book he and Daniel were writing -  the book - detailing everything they know about gilding. 
In October I visited Versailles again and called on my friends in the gilding atelier, where I was presented with a beautifully inscribed copy of  Art et Techniques de la Dorure à Versailles - Gilding at Versailles!
buy this book!

The gilding and restoration workshop is an airy, beautiful studio housed in the petite écurie, the former stables of the King.  Restoration is a ceaseless effort here; restorers have access to the best materials, the support of the state, and a seemingly endless stream of thrilling projects working on priceless items of national importance.  The sense of purpose and responsibility one feels there is truly awesome.  

The gilder-restorers’ work is traditional in nature, with techniques passed down from teacher to student, from master to apprentice, forming an unbroken link from the creation of a piece to its renewal, and then on to the next generation of restorers to come.   Gilding at Versailles  documents this work and continues this tradition. The book represents generations of accumulated knowledge from work done in the palace over the years.

excerpt from Gilding at Versailles - step by step restoration of a gilt console
excerpt from Gilding at Versailles; phot0: Adrien Brotons: Laurent water gilding a frame.  The gilders tip (brush) is being held with a hampe, or gilder's pole.  The book includes instructions for how to carve your own. 
Ziska, Daniel, and Lynne in the studio
limestone stairway to the atelier

My colleague Ziska Childs and I had a nice visit with Daniel.  Ziska is an accomplished scenic artist and designer, and having lived in Paris, she fortunately speaks French rather well. Artisans from other areas of the atelier came in to meet the visiting artists from America.  We told them all how famous Daniel is. 
Laurent was unfortunately away that  day. Where?  Oh, he was in Italy restoring something in the Vatican Palace. Yes I know how that sounds.  It is exactly how it sounds... what a life! 
a vivid assortment of pigments photo: Lynne Rutter

a carved and gilt sample in the atelier  photo: Lynne Rutter
Master gilder and wood carver Daniel Sievert came to Versailles at the age of 14 as apprentice to Maître Grandvoinet, a master craftsman well known across France, the titular gilder of the castle.  After many years working alongside his mentor, Daniel joined the CTFDU Compagnons du Tour de France des Devoirs Unis, a French guild of craftsmen with the highest standards of training, and earned the honorable title Ile de France au cœur d’or, a true master gilder.  He returned to the Versailles atelier as sculptor and restorer of bois doré  (gilded wood), and in 1977 succeeded M. Granvoinet as head gilder.      
a collection of moulds of classical ornament for decorating frames  photo: Lynne Rutter
Laurent Hissier started working at the Château de Versailles as a night watchman, and spent many long hours studying the decorative work in the palace interior while checking for security issues.  He took it upon himself to learn and practice the techniques used in the  décor of the palace.  He was taught casting and molding by Yvon Bailleul in the sculpture workshop, and in 2003 was accepted into the gilder-restorer workshop, to train with Maître Sievert.  Laurent also studied with  Pierre Lefumat, a world-famous master of faux finishes,  who taught him the techniques of faux marbre and painted finishes while working in the  palace. 

faux limestone finish painted by Laurent Hissier

Maître Lefumat passed in 2010, a loss felt keenly by everyone at Versailles, and indeed the entire decorative painting community.
Daniel Sievert retired at the end of 2011 after 52 years of dedicated service and splendid work.
The torch has been passed to Laurent, restaurateur en bois doré et peintre en décors.

Laurent also teaches traditional gilding at the Ecole d'Art Murals de Versailles, and he has a blog where he posts inspiring pictures of the work he is doing:   dorure-versailles.blogspot.com 

apprentices working in the studio   photo: Lynne Rutter
Laurent's beautifully rendered faux bois doors and faux marbre supports

After our studio visit Ziska and I toured the Palace to see some of the work of Daniel and Laurent, and  Maîtres Lefumat and Grandvoinet,  and all those that came before them. 


Detail of one of 24 carved limewood and gilt frames, circa  1687 (recently restored)  in the Cotelle Gallery of the Grand Trianon, Versailles.  

further reading:

Art et Techniques de la Dorure à Versailles - Gilding at Versailles 
by Laurent Hissier and Daniel Sievert  

L'Art du Faux Marbre
by Pierre Lefumat
published by Editions Vial with both French and English text
available from Pierre Finkelstein at fauxbrushes.com

Excerpts from Gilding at Versailles use with permission. 
photos by Lynne Rutter unless otherwise noted


Teatro Olimpico: Antiodèo

Sopraporte ornament in the lobby of the Teatro Olimpico, Vicenza
I was meeting with a new client this week who found me through this blog, which, she pointed out, has been languishing. Indeed it has, and I am sorry that business elsewhere has prevented me from writing as often as I'd like. I promised to go home and post something, and so I went straight into my most radioactive file for inspiration.
One of the great highlights of my life as a traveling ornamentalist was a visit to the Teatro Olimpico in Vicenza.  Someday when I am in better control of my emotional reaction to this incredible place I will post my photos of the theater itself.
For now I want to point out some detail from one of the two lobbies of the Teatro, the Antiodèo, which is decorated with Renaissance trompe l'oeil frescoes of classical architecture.
Antiodèo, Teatro Olimpico, VIcenza
Built into an oddly shaped medieval fortress, the Teatro Olimpico manages to present some classical proportions through the genius of the design by Palladio and Scamozzi.  The frescoes by Giovanni Antonio Fasolo create the illusion of symmetry in an otherwise awkward interior space.
The Antiodèo also houses a seriously dangerous architectural bookshop.
detail, trompe l'oeil casing, bracket, and cornice
As a decorative artist I will often stare at details admiring how they were painted. Look closely at the 'casing' of this doorway. So simply painted, so effective.

Hoc opus, hic labor est  

All images in this post by Lynne Rutter,  Vicenza 2009

Under Baroque Skies: finding inspiration in the clouds

In making studies of clouds I am constantly surprised and awed by what I see.  Nature truly is the most influential of all the artists, full of shocking and inspiring colors and compositions. I have learned so much about color just watching the sky change over the course of an hour.

As a muralist I often look at the work of the master artists who came before me,  for technical advice as well as inspiration. Some are known for their wonderful figurative murals or portraits, others for brilliant trompe l’oeil. To whom do you look for the best clouds?
Giambattisa Tiepolo: oil sketch for Perseus and Andromeda (1730) The Frick Collection, New York
Artists like Andrea Pozzo and Daniel Gran both are so famous for their illusionistic painting, that maybe they don’t get enough credit for composing really beautiful clouds:  clouds that break out of the “sky” and jump into the room;  clouds that are carrying groups of figures and yet still managing to fly up, create depth, and add color to dramatically designed scenes.  To my mind no one paints cloudscapes better than  Giambattista Tiepolo.  The virtuosic star of 18th century Venetian art, he painted larger-than-life goddesses and substantial allegorical figures seated in clouds that look as comfortable as down-filled cushions and light as a single feather. Tiepolo's murals are filled with light, and the most beautiful color palettes imaginable.
Join me here on a tour of some of my favorite clouds murals.

Andrea Mantegna “Camera degli Sposi” fresco 1465-1474 (ceiling detail) Palazzo Ducale, Mantua. image: Wikipedia
The center of the ceiling in the spectacularly painted Camera degli Sposi is one of the earliest examples of  the di sotto in sù effect. While the cloudscape in this ceiling is extremely simple, it’s effective because the scale of the clouds is consistent with what one could possibly view through an oculus of this size.

Ceiling of the Teatro Olimpico, Vicenza 1585 (detail). image: Lynne Rutter
The oldest surviving fully enclosed theater in the world, the Teatro Olimpico has the feeling of an open amphitheater in ancient Rome, thanks to this spectacular painted cloud mural over the cavea (seating area).  This theater was designed by the great Renaissance architect Palladio and seeing it was one of the top ten experiences of my artistic  life.  When I took this picture I could barely operate the camera as my eyes were filled with tears.

Andrea Pozzo “Apotheosis of Sant’Ignazio” fresco 1688-90 (detail), Sant' Ignazio di Loyola a Campo Marzio, Rome. image: Lynne Rutter
The surrounding quadratura and the famous anamorphic dome get a lot more attention,  but the action of Andrea Pozzo's famous ceiling mural takes place in its center- St. Ignatius of Loyola carried up to heaven by clouds that have reached into the church to scoop him up, assisted by angels. The clouds are composed as strategically as the rest of the painting.  Tip:  take a mirror to this church with you.   Have a seat, look down into the mirror  at the reflection of the ceiling. You will see a lot of different things this way (as well as spare your neck!)

Daniel Gran "Allegory of War and Law" fresco 1730 Prunksaal, Vienna. image: Wikipedia
More about the overall decoration than about reality, the colors of Daniel Gran‘s clouds play right into the décor of the rest of the interior, taking the room into its composition and the viewer along with it.  The Prunksaal (Austrian National Library) in Vienna is one of those amazing over-the-top Baroque libraries.

Kremserschmidt, chapel ceiling in Gruber Palace, oil on canvas 1780 Ljubljana, Slovenia
Martin Johann Schmidt‘s colorful cloudscape whirls around the figures and spirals upward, enhancing the foreshortening of the figures and creating a soaring effect. I love how the angel is holding up the lantern,  drawing  the room into the mural, and visa-versa!

Giovanni Battista Tiepolo “Apollo and Diana” fresco 1757 (detail) Villa Valmarana, Vicenza. image: Wikipedia
How do you support larger than life figures and still manage to make the clouds airy and filled with light? Watch and learn as Tiepolo does this with ease.

Giovanni Battista Tiepolo "The Triumph of Virtue and Nobility Over Ignorance" 1740 Oil on canvas, painted for the Palazzo Manin, Venice. image: Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena, CA
Multiple levels of clouds and strong contrast in Tiepolo’s Manin ceiling mural create depth and support the action in this allegorical tale in which sorority sisters Virtue and Nobility send out their posse of cherubs to put Ignorance in her place once and for all. Behind the hair-pulling drama, a bright yellow cloud  juxtaposed over a deep purple one:  ka-pow!

Dome ceiling fresco, 1749 Schloss Charlottenburg , Berlin. image: Lynne Rutter
This simple cloud mural  creates a sense of elegant calm as you ascend the ornate white plaster staircase of the beautiful Rococo wing of the Charlottenburg Palace.

Clouds over Mono Lake in the Eastern Sierra range of California, one hour before sunset. image: Lynne Rutter
Real clouds do the most amazing and beautiful things.  My best compositional references come from nature.  Flickr and google images have thousands of unbelievable pictures of amazing clouds.  Do you take cloud pictures too? If so, consider joining  the flickr pool “Painterly Clouds” and add your inspiring shots.

Lynne Rutter "Cloupscape" acrylic on plaster 18' diameter, Private Residence, CA
Nature inspired the composition of this dome cloud mural but I looked to maestro Tiepolo to inspire the painting technique, and for “permission” to make the sky purple and orange.


Visit the Gallery for more cloud ceiling murals painted by Lynne Rutter

di sotto in sù  is in the Glossary

Lynne will be teaching her cloud painting techniques in a special one-day workshop July 28, 2012 at the IDAL Convention in Reno, Nevada~~  ask for class # S203


Portrait of the Artist as an Artist

in my studio on a sunny day
It is an unusual thing for me to talk more about my creative process rather than my business.   So I am truly honored to be featured as Artist of the Month at Sinopia Pigments.   Sinopia is one of those rare and wonderful shops that specializes in pigments and raw materials for artmaking, and is particularly popular with anachronistic painters like myself.   Many other fascinating artist profiles are posted in Sinopia's artist pages. My heartfelt thanks to Alex for including me among such illustrious company.



The Golden Gate

The Golden Gate Bridge view from Marin: photo by Lynne Rutter
This weekend San Francisco will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the completion of the Golden Gate Bridge.  An engineering marvel when it was built across the treacherous "Golden Gate" strait in 1937, the bridge is still one of the most admired landmarks in the world.  I cannot imagine my city without it.
north tower of the Golden Gate Bridge at dusk

Engineers work constantly to maintain the bridge which must withstand relentless wind, fog, traffic, and occasional earthquakes.

The iconic vermilion color of the Golden Gate Bridge is called International Orange, something akin to a "safety orange"  but which is actually quite a nice red, especially when seen against a clear blue sky.   

Left:   International Orange (Safety) above 
 International Orange (Engineering)  below, which is the color used on the Golden Gate Bridge.

Some colors I have matched to this - and by that I mean walking onto the bridge, fan decks in hand - include  Benjamin Moore 1307 "Geranium" and C2 Color  C2-067 "Firefly." This can change depending on the age and exposure of the paint.

Sadly this beloved landmark is also the site of dozens of suicides each year, more than any other structure in the entire world.  I think about this every time I walk or drive over this bridge.  What is it about beauty that can also inspire tragedy?  Once I saw a man wrapped in a blanket, being led off the bridge by police. Someone had noticed his desperate state and interceded. After too many years of debate, measures have finally been taken to install a safety net and in early 2013 this barrier will be in place.

There's Brooklyn Bridge, London Bridge, And the Bridge of San Louis Rey ~  But the only bridge that's a real gone bridge ~ Is the bridge across the bay  

Golden Gate Bridge  in detail at Wikipedia
Life in Color more about International Orange by Emily Eifler for Colour Studio, Inc.

photos in this post by Lynne Rutter
click on images to view larger

Exterior Color: Aesthetic Inspiration

Stick-Italianate Victorian in San Francisco her new custom paint scheme

I am excited to show you this recently completed color project - a Victorian in San Francisco a stylish new artistic dress.

Eddy St. Victorian, before painting

This 1880s Stick-Italianate Victorian house in the Western Addition  was long overdue for a paint job. Pale and peeling, it was nearly invisible and set back from the street behind an added garage and a tangle of overgrown plants.  The owner asked me to help make the house show up better, and give his home an artistic look using some of his favorite colors.

I created a scheme using a muted split-complimentary palette of mauve, green-grey, ochre, and rose, with hints of purple and peridot, and of course, some well-placed gold leaf.  This isn't necessarily an historic color scheme, but such colors were popular during the Aesthetic Movement, along with those other "indescribable colors" that I have been studying lately, and which provided inspiration for this design.
Eddy St. Victorian with new, Aesthetic colors
The garage and foundation walls were painted a warm grey, very simple and plain so as not to compete with the house. The roof of the garage will become a front garden.

Entry doors painted a deep glossy phthalo green-black

Originally I suggested an intense peacock teal for the front doors, picking up some of the color in the stained glass insets, but we decided to use a deep phthalo green/black, for a more formal look. Gilt elements on the glossy doors make for a stunning entrance.


Color Consulting by Lynne Rutter 415-282-8820

Paints used on this house are by Benjamin Moore and C2 Color.

all images in this post by Lynne Rutter  - click on images to view larger

Flow Blue

A break in the rain, and a color lesson from my garden.  Cymbidium blossoms in a flow blue sugar bowl.


Sans, Souci.

Sanssouci palace in the winter sun
One year ago I was visiting friends in Berlin and we went out to Potsdam, to see the famous Frederician Rococo palace of Sanssouci (written on its façade as Sans, Souci. I have no idea why.) It was an exceptionally clear and sunny day and the yellow lime-washed stucco was particularly vibrant.  "This is the color of joy" I told my friends. I always associate that bright yellow with a happiness beyond reason.

Today I am working on a color scheme for a building with curséd white vinyl windows,  and have been  looking for examples of white-windowed buildings as reference, and so I am studying at this image I shot in Potsdam: warm grey limestone, pure yellow ochre pigment, black soot, verdigris copper.

One year ago today I heard the news that Japan had been stuck by a terrible earthquake and an even more devastating tsunami.   So today also I am also thinking of my friends in Japan and wishing them no worries.

photo by Lynne Rutter:  Potsdam, Germany,  March 2011
click on image to view larger


Exterior Color: Waking up the Neighborhood

Apartment building with color design by Lynne Rutter
Here is a color project from last year, a large building in San Francisco with condominiums and an office on the ground floor. Inside are lovely flats, all quite spacious and nicely finished.  The owners called me wanting the exterior of their building to look more like a nice residence, full of stylish people, like it is on the inside.
Before: Apartment block D
Before: the front door of despair.

Now look at the "before" picture. It looked more like a correctional facility than a nice place to live. Grey stucco and white vinyl windows and no personality whatsoever.  Could  you imagine coming home to this every day? 
The entrances were particularly  sad. You could not  see the addresses, the garage doors were unfinished metal and starting to rust. It was so indifferent as to be downright depressing.  
Because of the scale of the work to be done, the budget was of course an issue, so a lot of things I might suggest to embellish or personalize this facade we could not do here.   So, it all came down to color.  Talk about personal--- color can be so subjective, and people react emotionally to it.  Can you please everyone?  Of course not.  But if you go out of your way to avoid color you can end up with a desolate, if inoffensive, look.  When faced with a choice between "not for everyone"  and "not for anyone"   I choose color!   Can just color make this building look more like home?  Yes!

Entrance to posh homes

White vinyl windows are a curse for a colorist like me.  I think they really cheapen the look of a building and make it really hard to use deep or committed colors. They seem to be a standard in a lot of new construction so I have learned to deal with them.  In this case, with white as a mandatory part of the palette, I countered it by including some black, used on anything made of metal- railings, beams, etc. 
There is no question in my mind that the Homeowners Association putting work into the exterior of the building would not only improve the lives of the residents but improve the value of the building and the potential sale price of every condo inside it.

I was delighted to work with the HOA of this building because  everyone was so willing to try what looked like such a daring color. This took commitment, trust, and teamwork to accomplish.   After seeing the palette sampled on the building, one homeowner remarked "well this ought to wake up the neighborhood!"    The deep curry gold really glows in the sun and is full of life at night.  Accents of green/grey, sage, and mahogany brown call out the entrances which now have a welcoming quality to them. 

Color Consulting by Lynne Rutter 415-282-8820
Paint colors by Sherwin-Williams
Painting by Winning Colors

all photos in this post by Lynne Rutter
click on images to view larger

The Colorful Frescoes of Rila Monastary

One beautiful and very hot day in June, we visited Rila Monastery, in the mountains 117km south of Sofia, Bulgaria.  And I had my camera with me.

ceiling detail with the baptism of Christ,  Rila Monestary
Rila Monastery was founded in the 10th century  by the hermit St Ivan of Rila, who lived in a tiny cave in the hills above this site. The monastery was built by his students, and over centuries grew to become the largest and most important center for religious and cultural activities in the country.  During the Ottoman Empire rule of Bulgaria 1396-1878, the monastery took on the role of bulwark of the Bulgarian cultural identity in the face of foreign occupation, and a destination for pilgrimages from all over the Balkan region.

The interior courtyard of Rila Monastery and the Cathedral Рождество Богородично
We hired a driver for the day because I heard heard the bus trips don't allow much time to visit before you must to return to Sofia.  When we arrived in Rila our driver offered to come back in one hour to pick us up and take us to another place.   I showed him my camera and shook my head. Just leave me here. Come back tomorrow maybe.  Erling laughed, and offered to call the driver sometime before dark. My Ornamentalist Enabler.

painted doorway in the monastery

In the 18th and 19th centuries, Bulgarian culture and identity enjoyed a renaissance during the National Revival.  During this period Rila Monastery was destroyed by a fire, and rebuilt as we see it today, using a design typical of the Revival style of architecture and decoration.

Surrounding the church at the center of the courtyard, is the pleasant, four-story high residence of the monastery, decorated with simple painted designs in black and white and red, in geometric and floral motifs.
  These areas reminded me of the old mission churches in California.

Erling studying a panel on the Sin of False Confession
The domed porch surrounding the church is painted with intensely colorful frescoes, which have been recently cleaned and restored and really glow. I could almost hear and feel the color.   Especially that blue.  Every surface is covered with scenes of stories from the bible painted in pure, vivid hues.

Christ depicted in one of the domes of the porch
Completed in 1846,  the frescoes are the work of the famous Bulgarian muralist Zahari Zograf and his brother, the icon artist Dimitar Zograf, as well as many master artists from the schools of  Bansko, Samokov and Razlog.

In the spaces between domes are illustrations of stories from the Bible
Orthodox art observes a rigid standard of stylistic representation of sacred figures.  In between these iconic scenes however, are moments of decorative brilliance representative of the Bulgarian revival of folk art.

Archangels: detail of a fresco in the Rila porch
The palette is pigment-based and uses some lovely combinations of gold and green, blue and red, rose and brown.  In some places one of the red pigments has turned black, possibly due to exposure, or from a chemical reaction to the fumes from gas lamps that had been in use in the past.

ornamental elements support the architecture
I spent well over two hours studying the porch frescoes before taking a break and enjoying some Bulgarian donuts and a stroll around the rest  of the grounds, visiting the museum and touring the enormous monastery kitchens.  The inside of the cathedral was under restoration but still breathtaking, with an iconostasis [by Athanasios Taladuro of Thessalonica] a spectacular, intricately carved and gilt wall of icons.

Archangel Michael  / Архангел Михаил
Erling and I returned to the porch where I got out my 105mm lens and had another long look the frescoes and discussed their meaning.  Later we reconnected with our friendly driver,  who took us up the mountain to the 1/2 mile trail that leads through the most beautiful woods to the small cave where St Ivan spent his ascetic life.

A priest at Rila Monastery

The Monastery of Saint Ivan of Rila is UNESCO World Heritage site which receives nearly nine hundred thousand visitors each year. It is still an active  monastery and a pilgrimage site.  
There are volunteers inside the church who will give you a green cloak to wear over your head and shoulders if you are not modestly attired. I always travel with my own scarf  in case I need to cover my head in  the church, mosque, or temple I am visiting.

One of the priests was keeping a dignified watch over the area to make sure the younger tourists  behaved.  I showed him my camera monitor after taking this picture and asked his permission to use this photo.

More from Bulgaria:   Opus Lisatum
Erling Wold:  "Certitude and Joy"   mp3
performed by the Sofia Philharmonic, June 2, 2011

In this post I wish to express my profound gratitude to my teacher and mentor, Dr. Otto Mower, with whom I traveled to Bulgaria in 1980 on my first visit to Europe, as part of a study tour of art history.    That I became  a decorative artist was in large part due to his influence and encouragement.  Dr. Mower passed away on February 7, 2012.  


all images in this post by Lynne Rutter, Bulgaria June 2011 
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