Just a little bit of art history for the day…I think it’s so fascinating to think about how it is that we’ve come to approach our paintings as artists and to realize that it’s due to the whole march of art history that we step up to our easels and apply the paint in the particular manner that we do. It’s not by chance, or by luck, and we aren’t alone as we stand there. We have legions of artists standing at our sides. Yeah!!!
In Mallarme’s Symbolist theories (“It seems to me that there should only be allusions”), Leonardo’s sfumato (veiled form such as the blurs around Mona Lisa’s eyes), Titian’s “crude daubs,” the broadening brush strokes of Rembrandt’s maturity, in all these, the power of ambiguity has been harnessed to help the artist penetrate more deeply into the recipient’s mind in order to engage more complete participation. This is the secret of the Bhagavad Gita’s allegory, Christ’s parables, and the Oracle’s riddles. (SFUMATO – from Italian sfumare, “to tone down,” or “to evaporate like smoke”), in painting or drawing, term designating fine shading that produces soft, imperceptible transitions between colours and tones. It is used most often in connection with the work of and his followers, who made subtle gradations, without lines or borders, from light to dark areas; the technique was used for a highly illusionistic rendering of facial features and for atmospheric effects. (Britannica On-line) — Also: Leonardo’s term (“dark smoke”) for using intermingling veils of translucent color to create atmospheric perspective, depth, volume, and form. These interdependent, interacting veils echoes and exploits the way the mind constructs perceptions from raw stimuli. “In a way sfumato is a signpost to a paradox. To describe a thing by boxing it in, by drawing a line around it, which would seem to be the quickest route to accuracy, is in actuality the least accurate means of description. No depth or volume or form is communicated this way. Far better to first develop a fuzzy, hazy concept of the thing which is slowly fleshed out, with lines, or harsh defining strokes as the final touch. Indeed is this not the way the human mind comes to understand anything it comes into contact with?” (Ben J Armstrong (downloaded Jun15, 2001), portfolio pages athttp://pages.prodigy.net/sfumato/pages/whatissfumato.html). Related to fumage A method of making an image with smoke fumes. Fumage was invented by Wolfgang Paalen, whose first fumages were made with a kerosene lamp. When surrealist painter Salvador Dali (Spanish, 1904-1988), made a fumage, he called the method sfumato; and some have spelled this term “sfumage”. Very few artists have worked in fumage. Also see , , , , , parsemage, and photomontage