Tag Archives: Leonardo Da Vinci

Ya Gotta Believe Me! I’ve Been Framed.

Claude Monet

Claude Monet (Photo credit: Martin Beek)

Take a look around your home. You’ll find that almost every wall or shelf contains a picture of some kind. Whether it be family, friends, little league sports pictures or any of a million other items, you can rest assured they have invaded your abode.

We tend to look at the picture or artwork contained within a frame, but how often do we pay attention to the frame itself? A photograph of our parents fifty years ago may induce thoughts of that special bond and melancholy. But what about the fine mahogany frame, hand-rubbed with tongue oil and finished with a metal edge?

There’s also your child’s first-grade picture. You remember the first time you held him. The day you put him on the bus and the sadness you felt as he left the protection of your arms… then the frame decorated with the letters of the alphabet catches your attention. This isn’t just any frame, but one you painstakingly put together yourself. It also conjures fond memories of your first gift of time to a loved one.

Perhaps, you’re a collector of fine art. The canvas may contain the priceless brush strokes of Monet or Reiner, masterpieces no doubt, but any more so than the frame that surrounds them? If we break the process down, we find the artist first choosing a subject; then painstakingly selecting, mixing, and matching colors before the first drop of paint touches canvas; then and only then, can the hand of the master begin his work.

Also an artisan in his own right, the frame maker carefully selects the wood to be used. It must be made from the correct species of tree, paying close attention to moisture content, color and grain. Once the chosen pieces have been cut to the proper width, he carefully shaves the rabbit into the back of each to accept the canvas. Then he begins the meticulous relief carvings on the front of the frame. Once this is complete, the corners will be fitted with compound miters. The frame can be stained, clear finished, or decorated with gold leaf.

I’ll have to admit, I’m a little biased when it comes to this procedure. Even though I’m an author now, in a past life I was a carpenter and cabinet-maker.

The majority of woodworkers today will admit they would rather have a root-canal rather than build a picture frame. I share this sentiment; however, when you think about it, without the frame, the picture would have nowhere to be. Can you imagine walking into a house and seeing pictures taped to walls, propped up on bookshelves, or leaning against random items to keep them from falling over?

The picture frame shares a bit of the same life as a good plot in a novel. Just as the ornate frame surrounding the Mona Lisa re-enforces her delicate media, a strong plot throughout your novel will keep the reader interested just as if they were gazing at Leonardo Da Vinci’s greatest creation.

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Say Cheese

The Mona Lisa.

The Mona Lisa. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Whether spurred by ego or posterity, man’s obsessive need to record his image has been around since he has been around. From early cave paintings we see images of hunting, building, human sacrifices, and pretty much all the things that make cave painting fun.

These primitive drawings evolved into beautiful works of art, such as Egyptian hieroglyphics and Greek sculpture.

As man’s desire to preserve his likeness increased, the great artists of the age (Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, to name just a few) began to create their masterpieces. As brushstrokes pass through the ages, I would be remiss if I did not mention works of art that somehow have made the list of all-time greats.

Paintings of fat ladies with one leg, three boobs, and an arm growing out of each ear…oh, and I must not forget the works of art consisting of random paint splatters across a canvas that sell for millions. I would certainly love to have one hanging on my wall in the basement shower behind the curtain…but I digress.

The painting of portraits overlapped into the world of photography. The first photograph was produced in 1827. The camera had an eight hour exposure time and the picture itself was dark and lacked clarity.

The photographic process was made public in 1839. I have in my possession several old tin-type photographs of my family members. What I can’t understand, and not just in my pictures, is why people of that time look so mad. Maybe the smile hadn’t been invented way back when.

We’ve come a long way since then. From the old brownies to the Polaroid land camera, forging ahead through the 35 mm, disposables, and now we’re in the digital age, where photos of stellar-quality can be had instantly.

Much like writing, you should picture yourself within your story. If you’re truly there, you will notice not just the big picture, but the subtle nuances of each character, even down to the smells and sounds of your surroundings.

Now would one of you please come here and help me get this Mastodon back into his pose?

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