Thursday, July 12, 2012

The life of a painter during the Renaissance

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Hello my name is Francesco Spezzuoli and my life as an artist has been very short. It all started back when I was a very young boy growing up in the city of Florence, Italy in the sixteenth century. My father was a man who had great ambition for me to become a great artist, so I really did not have much of a choice. He was getting to old to take care of me anymore so he spent his last months finding an artist that would take me in as his apprentice. The artist was very well known, in Florence, to have some of the best apprentices in all of Italy, by the time they entered the profession.

When I went to the artist shop he asked me if I know anything about art. I said that I really did not know much, all I had done until that point was just draw for fun, but I as not very good at it. At his workshop he walked me around showing me what I would eventually be doing. The first thing that I did was clean up the shop everyday in the evening after all the work for the day had been done. I did that for a couple of days until I was comfortable around the shop. Then I really stated to work. My teacher had me drawing all kinds of different things that were in the shop. I drew for about six hours a day and the other rest of the time was watching the older apprentices work on parts of paintings and grind pigments for paints, until it was time for me to clean up.

After I watched how to grind pigments for a couple of weeks I finally got the opportunity to do it myself. The first time that I tried it, I did not do very well. My teacher yelled at me for spilling too much of the pigments. Along with that he also said I was not grinding the pigment up small enough, and if they were not ground up smaller then the paints would look all grainy. And a grainy painting would never go out of his shop. It took me quite a long time to get the pigments grinding just right, but when I finally get them to were my teacher wanted them he was very pleased at how I was coming along. But there was still one color I was not aloud to grind, marine blue. Because that particular color of blue was very expensive to use, my teacher was the only one to grind it up and the only one to use it in any type of painting.

Still during all of this time I was drawing and drawing and drawing, so much as to were I was starting to hate it, but the more I drew the better I become at it. My teacher said that I would never regret having to draw so much later on in my life. Then one day after I had been working on a drawing of Donatello’s David, for what seemed like weeks, when I had finished it, I took it to my teacher to show him how far I had come in drawing, he looked at it, nodded his head, said good job and then throw it in the trash, and said I can still do better and not to show him until I did. So it was back to drawing for me again, to prove to my teacher that I could do it. Everyday I went to the sculpture and draw, and everyday I did something just a little bit different until I spent about one month drawing the sculpture. At that point I felt that I had done the best that I could have, I had been drawing and painting for five years now and had used up all of the different techniques that I know how. When I was done I had drawn David about ten different times. When I took it back to my teacher, to show him my final drawing, he smiled and said, “See I know you could do better”. After I had finished David my teacher asked me the next day to come help him draw figures on a baptistery wall that was going to be the Virgin Mary and the Christ child as the main theme, with others sourding them.

I was a little nervice about drawing the figures for the fresco painting, just because I had never done anything like this before. But once I stared, I relaxed a lot and started to get into a zone and things just started to flow very easily. I know it was just the outlines of the figures but it was really interesting for me to do. Then when I was done with the outlines my teacher said that I had done the best that he had seen at my age, 17 years old, I was very happy to hear that. I also helped with the painting by grinding up the pigments that were going to be used on the fresco. And then I saw for the first time my teacher paint. To watch him paint was like magic. The way he mixed the paints and flowed them on to the wall was just great to watch. I know saw how far I still have to go, but I was well on my way to become a great artist.

After I had done a couple of figure outlines on some paintings I was given the chance to paint one figure, that was not of any importance, in a fresco on a wall in one of the Medici houses. This was a very big deal, this meant the my teacher felt that I had gotten my ability of painting good enough to actually paint someone in one of his frescos, and to be in the Medici’s house is a true honor. The figure that I got was one in the back ground with his back turned away from the viewer getting a bucket of water out of a stream. My teacher said that if I did well on this one he would let me do another figure in his next painting. As I started to paint I messed up a couple of time, but all I had to do was get a little guidance from my teacher and paint over my mistake. In the end when I was done with the person, I was very pleased with my self for how well I had done, along with my teacher. So in doing so well I had the chance to do two figures on a small painting that he was going to work on in the shop.

After doing figure outlines and painting the not to important people for a couple of years, I then moved up to painting everything on the main figures except the hands, face, and ears, those are always left for the teacher to do. I was getting to the point were I wanted to make a piece to art work to be reviewed by the guild to see if I was ready to become a real artist. I spent quite a long time deciding what to do my piece on, along with the help on my teacher; I come up with my painting. It was going to be a painting of David to represent the icon that he was in the city of Florence. But I throw a twist in to the work; it was not the normal way that David was represented at that time. It had David’s head cut off laying on the ground next to him, to symbolize how Rome had left there “daughter Republic” out to fend for itself when it come to defending against invaders.

I was not to highly liked by the guild members for doing this type of work, but they said that I had used the best technique for painting they had ever seen. The way that I had laid the paint down, it almost seamed like it would come to life, and that we as the viewers were looking at greatness. Even though the guild did not really like the painting they had no reason not to let me into the guild, other then the fact that my subject mater was not to favorable.

Once I was a guild member I still worked with my teacher on a couple of fresco painting that he had to do. As every month went on I keep getting better and better at my skill of painting. Then I got my first commission from a small church in Florence. They wanted a painting of the Madonna enthroned for an alter piece that they wanted made. I had to collaborate with the woodworker, to find out the design of the alter piece. Once we had finished designing it he spend about two months building the alter piece. After he was done with his part I painted the Madonna, it was a very elegant pretrial of her, she was in the middle with two angles on each side and the Holy Father in a hallow above her. When it was all completed the church was very pleased with the work.

Know I have written down my life store as an artist, even though there really is not much to it, I now feel that I can die with out having any regrets. To this day I do not really know what I am sick from. It has been plaguing me for months now and recently has kept me from doing what I love the most, drawing. All I have been able to do for the past month is stay alive long enough to write this. Today a doctor come by to see how I was doing and come to the conclusion that I had contracted plague and would be dead here soon. Winter was coming in and he said that I would not make it to see spring. I don’t even think I will see winter this year, the coughing has gotten worse today and I’m feeling very weak. So to end this story my name is Francesco Spezzuoli and I am a painter in the sixteenth century.

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