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Thread: sfumato

  1. #1
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    sfumato

    ... some of you may remember a self-portrait I posted more than a year ago ... here I've used AR pencil on the iPhone to experiment with softening contours around the eye and nose ...
    Attached Images Attached Images  
    xiěyì, n. freehand brushwork, spontaneous expression
    Artrage Gallery
    / Leaning Tree Ink Studio

  2. #2
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    The sfumato effect around the nose is really amazing here and I wish I could find the whole portrait. (BTW I presume that the painting "technical" word sfumato was adopted also by English then , like for chiaroscuro, velatura etc.)
    Panta rei (everything flows)!

  3. #3
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    Caesar, don't you know the definitive smoky torch song from the 1950s: Sfumato Gets In Your Eyes

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57tK6aQS_H0

    Pete, looks awesome. You can't mistake the contour of the nose and the shape of the eye. I love the tones you used. It feels both like a drawing, but especially like rubbed oil. Also feels very old. I can see people at your one man show at a gallery standing before your work and looking in different ways, as if calibrating their mind and eyes to grab your work.
    "Not a bit is wasted and the best is yet to come. . ." -- remembered from a dream

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Caesar View Post
    I presume that the painting "technical" word sfumato was adopted also by English then , like for chiaroscuro, velatura etc.
    Caesar, about "sfumato" in English, I don't know, I'm Italian especially when I paint ps: here is the link to the original post:
    http://forums.artrage.com/showthread...ht=restoration



    Quote Originally Posted by D Akey View Post
    It feels both like a drawing, but especially like rubbed oil....
    D Akey, that was the intent in the original, which by the way I began in an early version of Procreate using the primitive inking tools they had back then and finished in ArtRage with the oil tools ... Here I've used a custom-made Nomad brush to help soften the pencil effects ...
    Last edited by chinapete; 11-27-2013 at 06:07 AM.
    xiěyì, n. freehand brushwork, spontaneous expression
    Artrage Gallery
    / Leaning Tree Ink Studio

  5. #5
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    Pete!...I checked out your original, like the effect you put on it!
    Also Like, where you going with your continuation of yourself!
    Sfumato, Chiaroscuro and Velatura?...After looking up the definitions, decided to edit myself.
    Only been painting for about six months or so!..I'll learn these words eventually, and what they mean and how, if any do they pertain to the way I find myself painting.
    Sorry Guys!
    Always enjoy seeing your work!
    Take Care Pete,
    Steve
    Last edited by stevemawmv; 11-29-2013 at 07:42 AM.

  6. #6
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    Dear D Akey, You're funny as usual. Thanks! Smoke gets in Your Eyes was one of my preferred song since I started chewing a little English, as a secondary school boy, and I must add that it was a song I was able to sing quite well, also because of the later tone of my voice (a sort of low baritono down to basso; I guess these Italian terms are still familiar in today musical slang).
    As for the above painting words I guess I should check with the Oxford Dictionary or so, since I see that Steve didn't hear them before and Pete is an American with a Sino-Italian mix of genes and cultures (I understand), thus a too uncommon and rich melting pot of languages and international knowledge to check on.
    Panta rei (everything flows)!

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Caesar View Post
    ... As for the above painting words I guess I should check with the Oxford Dictionary ...
    haha, all right Caesar, I'll try to answer your question ... The three words sfumato, velatura and chiaroscuro often are left untranslated in English and I think are well-known among art historians and serious oil painters, but I'm sure the average person in the street will have no idea what they mean ... One difference is that in Italian these words can be understood independently of painting, but in English some explanation is needed ...

    My rough idea of each is sfumato has to do with line, chiaroscuro relates to light and dark, and velatura is a kind of covering I call "scumbling" ... I know these meanings from my experience in studio art and also because I have read a little in art history ...

    Like all such words, they are difficult to translate directly into English, and we must be happy with indirect meaning ... If you put the three words into Google Translate you will get these results: "sfumato = gradient", "velatura = veiling", and "chiaroscuro = chiaroscuro" ... This implies that "chiaroscuro" can be left untranslated because people have used it and understand it must have a broad meaning in English ... Probably anyone who has seen the Mona Lisa has heard the term sfumato , and can see in the painting what that word might mean ... But velatura really is a technical term for applying an opaque layer of paint and probably doesn't mean much, even to many painters today ...

    How's that for sprezzatura?
    xiěyì, n. freehand brushwork, spontaneous expression
    Artrage Gallery
    / Leaning Tree Ink Studio

  8. #8
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    On sfumato and...

    The term ”sfumato” means a certain amount of ”smoke”, ”haze”, ”moisty atmosfere” that covers the motif to make the illusion of distance or perspective, illusion of depth, fading and softness. Not unlike the terms ”blur” or ”bokeh” in todays photography. Like in this painting by Turner

    Name:  Sfumato ByTurner.jpg
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    The ”chiaruscuro” means ”light-and-dark” where the motif comes out of a dark background but is melted in to or broken up into the dark. The light parts stands out like hit by a spotlight while the rest is more or less obscured in the darkness. Like in this painting by Joseph Wright.

    Name:  Joseph Wright 'of Derby' Chiaroscuro (1).jpg
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Size:  165.1 KB

    Velatura is the term for mor or less covering the motif using opaque paint, not like the case is in ”sfumato”, where the motif always is visible because of the use of transparent paint. In ”velatura” you better use Titanium White (opaque) and in sfumato Zink White (transparent) or Mixing White (also transparent), probably mixed with other pigments. Velatura is more of a wall-painting, decoratif technique, that I know of. You use a cloth or veil and rub or stamp on the wall to get a texture or to soften or break the underlying pattern not to look too repeating. Usually it is a good technique to use with egg tempera or caseine tempera. Velatura is not in my book ”History of Art” by H.W. Janson that I studied for my BA exam, so it is not regarded as a classical art tech I guess.

    Sprezzatura is not an art term that I kow of. Sprezzatura is not in the book that Janson wrote and not in my other book I had to study for my BA degree: ”Art and Illusion” by E.H. Gombrich. I find sprezzatura is more of a cultural term, related to snobbism and posing...or something like that.

    Thank you for bringing this subject up, it made me take down my old books from the shelf again. I think I will read some more...
    Last edited by Henry Stahle; 11-28-2013 at 02:35 AM.

  9. #9
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    Hi Henry, thanks, the images make the meanings clearer ... I thought Caesar was familiar with the terms and just wanted to know how the words have been used in English, whether they have been translated or left in Italian ... I'm also sure he can tell that with sprezzatura I am making fun of myself ...
    Last edited by chinapete; 11-28-2013 at 03:04 AM.
    xiěyì, n. freehand brushwork, spontaneous expression
    Artrage Gallery
    / Leaning Tree Ink Studio

  10. #10
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    Thank You, dear Pete and Henry for Your most interesting discussion (You are right and really competent, dear mates) from where I can understand how these terms passed into English with possibly some slight meaning difference. I think I'd rather say something too about their origin (in language and art). In Italian they are obviously used both as painting technical terms and also for their general or alternative meanings.

    Sfumato, a substantive from an adjective, actually means here that there's a tonal gradient (of either darkness, more frequently, or hue), as Pete said, like that of an upward decreasing smoke density (fumo=smoke). It may be even a progressive toning down of a color and a toning up of another one, a smooth color transition (as for a sunset sky in watercolors), but more usually it refers to smothly toning down of darkness as for (finger) smoothing in drawing, especially with charcoal or sanguine. We may sfumare (the verb) even a musical note (let it slowly or gracefully fade away) or a meaning (understate). The true substantive sfumatura is more or less like "nuance" in French, but also the variable hair lenght of a barber from Your head top down to the neck.
    As for velatura, apart for its marine technical meaning (the set of the sails of a sailing ship), it's inserting a veil, something not completely transparent, but across which You may still see through to a certain extent. For painting, a thin layer that let the underneath layers be seen (not an opaque cover), which was used to finely tune or trim the hue tone and help simulating the reflective power of surfaces like human skin, fabrics etc.
    I guess a reasonably corrsponding English term in painting may be glaze. Classical paintings could have quite a lot of subtle velature over the base painting, even 40 or fifty, thus making them look bright and impressively realistic (at least when they were painted, because old oil paints used to get progressively darker, alas). It may also be used to harmonize a whole painting from a palette standpoint and turning it from a warm to a cold feeling or viceversa (sorry another Italianism).
    Finally chiaroscuro (literally light-dark) is the use of the tone ranges to define volumes and make objects pop-out as 3d by an appropriate use of highlights, shades and shadows. You may get such effect also somehow chromatically, with complementry colors, or use a mix of the two, like in the ancient Venitian painting school where drawings and darkness tones were a more subdued with reference to the importance of the colors, usually having more vibrations and vivid contrasts (to simplify). It has also different meaning when we talk, for instance, of a speech "in chiaroscuro", i.e. containing a mix of positive and negative elements, like the picture of an uncertain economical situation where elements contrast, or we may be referring to a somehow not neat and clearly defined picture (picture as a general term).

    OK. I stop it here and apologize if I was boring explaining all this about how we use them here.

    BTW, dear Pete, as for sprezzatura You found a really unusual, specific term and a quite obsolete one I'm afraid and Italians wouldn't understand it anymor since two or three centuries.
    Neither i am too familiar with it, because I know too little about music, its history, melodramma ancestors etc.
    Last edited by Caesar; 11-29-2013 at 12:39 AM.
    Panta rei (everything flows)!

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