Tag Archives: art

Where’s my atelier?

Some frustrations in recent years have revolved around an intense desire to make beautiful things running into a lack of skill or time to make them combined with a lack of available skilled people to pay to do them for us. Several friends and I have formed an unofficial ‘atelier’ (the common Brazilian-via-French term for an artist’s studio) where we do all sorts of little projects. The atelier isn’t even in a fixed location, though we sometimes work at each others’ houses and we share materials.

Some recent projects have included: experimenting with making arrangements of artificial flowers, painted gold, in imitation of the metal flowers found on baroque Brazilian altars; making rosaries; designing embroidery for altar linens or chasubles; sewing altar frontals; redoing the decoration on old chasubles; and making robes and dresses for religious statues.

Some of the work has been partially outsourced to shops, but there we frequently run into our own problem. The professionals are so overburdened and behind schedule that it can take many months just to hear that they haven’t yet started on your project…

Most of the professionals are family businesses, with a mom or dad being the main artisan, and the kids and spouse helping out with simpler tasks, accounting or deliveries. In other words, there’s really just one person doing all the work, and they don’t want to turn away anyone who wants work done. There’s also a tendency here to give priority to higher status people or people with urgent deadlines (ordinations, for instance) so the line is constantly being jumped by priority clients, leaving others in a never-ending tail end. Thus the desire to do it my darn self…

I then realize my own line is just as slow that of the pros. In a fantasy life I’d have a workshop full of diligent elves making all my ideas to order. It feels a bit of a shame to have a head so full of ideas and not enough hands or skill to make them.

Dress success!

I’m pleased enough with this gold underdress with red overdress! The gold underdress was a challenge, but today I set about adding lace and that improved it quite a bit:

I’m starting to agree with a friend of mine who joked that we’d all be better off if we just decorated the entire world with ribbons and lace. I’m thinking lace collars need to make a comeback. We used to dress is such elaborate clothing. How dull our modern tendency to sportswear, tee-shirts, jeans and so on.
All the lace on…
I tacked down the white lace so that the hands are visible.
I trimmed the red overdress and added a hook and eye to hold it shut and snaps to hold back the corners so the underdress shows.
There ya go! Tomorrow I’ll start on the blue mantle!

The ugliness of evil

I’d often noticed that devils and demons in medieval art are particularly grotesque – they often have faces on their behinds, or asses for faces, and a hodge-podge of limbs, as if they were put together senselessly or blindly, without the harmony and order so vivid in the beauty of Creation.

It had not occurred to me, however, what a friend pointed out: that the same in more recent art are often rather romantic, admirable, or even beautiful. Sometimes that conflict is intended to disturb the savvy viewer, who knows that that which appears attractive is actually deadly. But sometimes the depiction is meant to encourage a certain sympathy for evil, as if finding evil repellent is just a silly misunderstanding.

I don’t know if this difference is always evident – but below a selection of images of St. Michael that I happened to have on my laptop for another project a while back, with a variety of manners of depicting the Holy Archangel’s conquest of Satan, at God’s command*:

*Except the one eastern-style icon, which just shows a noble portrait of the robed archangel.

Slowly slowly

I’m trying to clear out some took-a-year-to-finish drawings and paintings. Here are two I finished yesterday. The one of the Assumption of Mary took well over a year, I think. Drawing and painting always get set aside when I have obligatory work to do. Thanks to the quarantine there is more time for art!

Oh thou work of art

I once wept, looking at an x-ray of my foot. It’s a work of art, a bit mangled from a ski accident, but with a beauty in the mere flow of the lines of the bones, tendons and flesh. Remember gazing at an infant’s hand with the same wonder? What tiny fingers! What adorable rolls of fat! The tired faces on the train, the bravado on the sidewalk, the swollen ankle of an elderly lady limping to her pew are the same. Each one made with tenderness.

Today I got the MRI for my shoulder and delighted in the spray of white and gray on black, like some avant-garde artist’s photography.

God be praised for His beautiful work, for the miracle of life and breath and touch.

God be praised for the laughter of words like subacrômiodeltoideana and glenoumerais and espessamento. Every week brings new vocabulary. This will probably not be remembered, as it is of little use outside the doctor’s office.