Monday, December 30, 2013

Wherein medieval art writers conveniently leave steps out and wherein not living in Italy makes you swear at your project

So, I thought it might be time to publicly reflect on two issues that happen in Arts and Science projects that cause them to not go quiiiite the way you had planned them.  While this is obviously part of my projects analysis and reflection as well, I think it's important that people understand that even working on high level entries stuff goes wrong. All. The. Time.

First, the more innocent.  We do not live in Italy. Well, I don't - maybe you do - and we are not in the middle of a global temperature freeze nor is the humidity level and temperature level of Florida like anything anywhere. We have days where gilding is easy peasy and other days where we laugh and won't touch the stuff because its just not going to stick - or it will stick to EVERYTHING including the cats, yourself, the floor, your table. Not that I've had to take gold leaf off the cats or am still trying to buff it out of the dining room table or anything.

The point is, our weather - or your weather - really affects your art.  Here in Florida it's either insanely humid and hot or rather chilld and humid or.. just to be confusing... chilly and dry because the air conditioner sucks all the moisture out of the air. While some of this can be mitigated by opening and closing windows, humidifiers, etc, it's a constant game of roulette to try and get "ideal" conditions for your supplies to behave as they would have in the 1400's in Belgium or Flanders or England or Florence.  It just doesn't work right. Sometimes this means absolutely nothing - parchment will still act like parchment. Hardened metal will still be hardened metal.  But other times - like with anything involving paint, glue, varnish, or anything susceptible to weather - you're playing a game of artistic high-stakes poker and praying you've got it right. Sometimes it takes several attempts to figure it out and sometimes what worked PERFECTLY last time didn't work at all this time.

Second, Medieval artisans lie. Maybe, to be less accusatory, they omit. This may be because they were attempting to protect a trade secret that kept them as popular artisans in a time when selling your art was absolutely a commodity and a trade. This may also be sometimes because the step seems so infantiley stupid that OF COURSE you would know to do that. Strain the bits from the oak gall ink? Well duh. Leave the varnish on to seep into the cloth? Of course. Why would you tell someone how to turn on the light instead of just telling them to turn the light on today? You wouldn't - you'd expect that they know where the switch is.

In short, there is no perfect art sci (even those high scoring ones).  It's a learning process and part of that process is, well, learning. To do that you need patience and the ability to let go of perfection and how it "should" be and sometimes go with "how it is" and "what does that mean?"

Also, don't gild the cats.