Monday, September 30, 2013

Camera Obscura....

(Canaletto drawing)

Wikipedia defines camera obscura as-"is an optical device that projects an image of its surroundings on a screen" 

Imagine my surprise when, recently in San Francisco,  I found a working camera obscura! 
 Leonardo da Vinci describes the camera in his notebooks-"In 1490 Leonardo da Vinci gave two clear descriptions of the camera obscura in his notebooks. Many of the first camera obscuras were large rooms like that illustrated by the Dutch scientist Reinerus Gemma-Frisius in 1544 for use in observing a solar eclipse."

The camera was built as a tourist attraction by Floyd Jennings, a San Francisco businessman , on a cliff overlooking Seal Rocks . Life Magazine featured it in their March 1964 issue.

Going inside the darkened room, you are able to view the images of Seal Rocks and the surrounding area.

The building is located just behind the Cliff House on Ocean Beach and is a little worn for wear now.  There are no longer lines of people waiting to enter in this age of digital photography and cellphone cameras, but geeky art-minded people like me still wander in and are amazed with the simplicity and clarity of the images.

The fact that these images are in "real time" with motion of the waves and birds flying, made this a popular tourist attraction in the 1960's.

Being the geek I am , I just purchased a camera lucida, based on the early principle of the camera obscura.  This will be used for transferring images for decorative painting. If your curiosity is peaked, but don't want to spend major bucks....

Yes! There is an app for that!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Strapwork.... with Adrian Card

 (Adrian Card photo)
I just finished a wonderful class with Adrian Card held at the studio of Lynne Rutter in San Francisco. The panel was a strapwork design done in traditional colors with a fabulously rich black background.

(Lynne Rutter photo)
We started our day with a "training wheels" panel , practicing brushstrokes, highlights and shading. Adrian also demonstrated how to paint luminescent jewels.

(Lynne Rutter photo)
We traced our design and began to layer in base color, shadows and highlights, mimicking shiny brass for our strapwork framing. Everything was done in oil paint and with only one round it would have been in the 16th century.

You can see from this detail of Adrian Card's panel, the design is rich with ornamentation,-draped swags, jewels, urns, birds and other  elements adorn the strapwork framing.

You may remember this panel that Adrian did a few years earlier that I included in an earlier post on strapwork.

These are my panels as class ended...I will finish them soon. Thanks go to Adrian Card for his teaching style and Lynne Rutter for the comfortable and creative environment of her studio!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Zuber's "Decor Chinois"...

I recently was asked to repair a room of Zuber wallpaper that had water damage and pet damage...

"Decor Chinois" was the pattern! First made in 1832, Decor Chinois has 57 colors in the design and came in three colorways-cream, pink and the popular green.

I remember my first visit to the Zuber Paris showroom...I had set up an appointment and buzzed the door to be let in...

There were all of the designs on panels to flip through. Each design was hand carved from pear wood and made into wood blocks. They are kept in a controlled climate and allowed to rest for several years between printing again.

The previous owners had a dog that scratched a large area back to the liner.

I repainted the design and moved on to the water damage...

Three walls had moderate to more extensive water damage from upstairs flooding...

Several panels had multiple water stains running top to bottom through the designs. I painstakingly touched up each flower, bird and leaf in the effected area and then blended the background...ahem, did I mention Zuber is know for their gradation in color on their backgrounds? They start with one tone at the top and become lighter in the middle and then another shade at the bottom.

Decor Chinois is no longer in production.  The pear wood blocks begin to crack and warp after a century of use and must be retired. One of the perks of being a decorative artist is a job like this come full circle from viewing the papers as a young artist and then restoring them to their original beauty, to be appreciated by another generation of art lovers!
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