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Art School #9 Caravaggio

Renaissance Art History was the subject so we saw all kinds of antiquated artifacts and architecture.
Thirty students were touring on a semester break in January to earn some extra credit. Most were not serious artists but rich kids who's parents could afford to send them off on an adventure. What's the easiest A in college? You guessed it, Art History.

That was perplexing to me because no one else in the group (except for the professor) seemed to have a true interest or appreciation in what we were experiencing. I soaked it in and captured it's essence on paper. We were supposed to keep a journal but I used a sketch book instead and drew everywhere we went.
The schedule was full and we entered at least one Catholic edifice every day. That is where most of the art in Italy was and we searched out every nook and cranny. 

One day we walked to Santa Maria del Popolo to see something special. We entered the empty sanctuary and saw a scaffolding towering up to the ceiling. Ongoing restoration projects were a common site and this time we saw a fresco in process. Unfortunately artisans actually working was a less common sight.

There was no one there to tell us where to find our treasure. The light was so dim that we needed a flashlight to find it. We stumbled around and peered into every corner. Just when we were ready to give up hope of finding it someone spotted it in the shadows. The professor scanned the flashlight over pieces of the huge painting; first a horse and then a body laying prone on the ground under the horse. He talked about fore-shortening and the significance of the artist's techniques.
 Conversion on The Way to Damascus by Caravaggio. What a sight and to think that anyone could stroll in here anytime and come right up and touch this 400 year old painting. So much art and so much to see once you found it.

Find out why this painting depicts the second most significant event in history.

Interior Design Requirement: Rosemaling

The Scandinavian interior design requirement: at least one hand painted design on something or maybe on everything! Rosemaling is an age old decorative art that is usually displayed on wood or metal dishes, platters, bowls, and furniture. The most daring rosemalers will paint doors, cabinets, walls and rafters.

The art of rosemaling is part of Norway's culture and history and if you are Norwegian you must know how to do it or at the very least know someone else who can. It's like being an American and making apple pie. Not everyone can make the pie but absolutely everyone knows what it tastes like.

Here's a sample of Elias Halling's Rogaland design. He was a master rosemaler who taught me his techniques. I learned the basics from him and then studied on my own just so I could say, "I am Norwegian and I can rosemal".

Elias made his own wooden platters and table tops and painted with artist oils. His colors and technique were refined and his designs were the most difficult style of Rosemaling. I remember watching him paint so patiently. The brush was loaded with two or three different colors for every stroke. He dabbed the brush in the first color, smoothing the paint into the bristles with swipes across the palette. Then the edge of the brush was lightly swept across another color so just the edges of the bristles touched. And sometimes another color was added to the opposite edge or the tip of the brush. Then the brush was deftly laid down on the artwork and twisted and turned to create a beautiful singular stroke. The colors blended and shaded one another and the results were a completely finished leaf. Now the process began again for the next leaf.

You would be amazed to see this small brush he used, only about 3/8 inch across and 1/2 inch long with a very long handle of course. Each finished leaf measured only about 1 1/2 inches long.

 Here are a couple of samples of what I learned from Elias:

Here is a great link to more pictures and info Now the big question: Are you Norwegian and can you rosemal?

Lightening Pope

The only modern building I saw in the entire country of Italy was the Papal Audience Hall. Opened in 1971 it was practically brand new when we were there in 1975. Here's a panorama view of the inside showing the ceiling and both sides of the room.
We were studying art history and the St. Olaf Choir was on tour as well. We all met up in Rome after touring around the countryside. One of the highlights of our stay in Rome was the special treatment we received in the Papal Audience Hall.
See the inside of the Papal Audience Hall.
We were ushered to the center front rows where we waited. I gazed at the windows and the interesting shape of the room.
See a close up of the window

 Suddenly everyone stood with a loud roar. I was surprised by the noise and the continuous flash of white light that lasted at least 5 minutes. The Pope was carried down the center aisle from the back of the room. He was actually sitting on one of those "Cleopatra" thrones just like in the movies about ancient Rome. I stood silent (probably with gaping jaw) as the applause and cameras went crazy. Once he was positioned on the stage the ceremony began and he spoke a short message in several languages. A medal was produced and our choir director was summoned to the stage. This was an historic moment since we represented a Lutheran college and this was the first time in history that a Catholic Pope bestowed this honor on a protestant. I was completely clueless until later about the significance of all that took place.
What really impressed me about the whole event was seeing the huge oval stained glass windows, one on either side of this gigantic wave room. The windows were glowing with color as the morning sun shown in.