Thursday, January 02, 2014

What to do when it snows

My default position on occasions like this: Open a book; read the whole thing; put it down; open another. Rinse and repeat. If I followed my natural inclination I would sit and read all day. But that is a good way to get nuts. After a while I start to think I am a fictional character, and look behind me to see if I have cast a shadow.
So I exercise, take a walk, watch a movie, cook something, eat something, clean something, call someone, do laundry. Or blog, perhaps about something I am reading. I am now reading about Michelangelo and how he came to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. It is called "Michelangelo and the Pope's ceiling," by Ross King. I bought the book at the Good Will store, a place where you never know what books you will find.
He was first hired to design a tomb for the Pope, Julius II. Julius was not one of those namby pamby popes such as we have today, always going on about charity, greed, yada, yada, and other things he knows little or nothing about. Julius was a patron of the arts with a bad temper. A really bad temper, so bad that he used to beat up the people around him, like a schoolboy. He beat up his servants when they displeased him, and sometimes beat up anyone he felt like beating up. He also hired soldiers to beat up other nations. The Venetian Ambassador to the Vatican, on his deathbed, said that one of the reasons he didn't mind dying was that when dead he would not have to cope with Julius, patron of the arts as he might be.
Anyway, I hate to disappoint anyone who has visions of Michelangelo lying on his back while painting the aforementioned ceiling. He had a scaffold built and he and his subordinates stood on a platform to paint. It was tough enough as it was. The ceiling had to be painted while it was wet.


Julie Zdrojewski said...

How does Ross King say he knows this about the standing-up business?

Were I way up there on a platform, standing up to paint above my head would make me dizzy and fall over.

Were I lying down, I would go mad with claustrophobia, since my arms are pretty short.

So maybe I would kneel. And wear a neck brace.

But all I paint are the rooms of my house. Since you, dear lady, paint actual pictures, your assessment of feasibility of artistic rendering overhead while standing up is the assessment we really need here. Do you have a judgment for us?

miriam said...

I don't know how King knows about the standing up. Read the book--it's fascinating.

I couldn't paint in either posture, but Michelangelo was a genius. Painting on drying plaster sounds challenging enough.

Another interesting point: Michelangelo was the first artist to portray God as an old man with whiskers. Of course, it is now an acknowledged fact that God looks like an old guy with whiskers.