A Young Renaissance

Often, the value of art is not in the skill of the artist, it is in the joy of movement and creation.”

'The Birth of Venus' by Botticelli

The following is written by Blueprint100 member Caitlin Bemis.

In February 2019, I hosted a series of workshops in collaboration with Blueprint100 within The Stove Network. The workshops were spread out over a period of four weeks and were open to all ages, and were an exploration of modern, visual techniques using renaissance art as inspiration. We explored a range of paintings and styles in the workshops - for example, we took Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus” and re-invented it using abstract techniques, with artist’s like Picasso, De Kooning and Mary Rosenberger as references.

Throughout my journey as an artist, portraiture/figurative work has been a brain-picking process, full of both triumphs and defeats. I’ve often found myself ready to sit down and create something, eager to feel the rush of adrenaline that the creation process brings. However, when I’ve came to it, my chosen tools organised around me, I find that the thought of the details that come before you witness the piece fleshing out - such as, sketching the face/body before hand, underpainting, laying down the mid-tones - exhaust my mind before I even start. As an artist, these rituals are usually methodical, relaxing, and intimate, but they do take time, and uninterrupted concentration. And sometimes, they don’t feel methodical or relaxing, they feel cumbersome - sometimes that euphoric feeling we visualise when we think of creating comes from simply the joy of movement within art. Sometimes it’s the colours blending, not taking any particular form, just the blend. Sometimes, it’s the lines connecting, or drawing out, or curling. When I discovered this, and discovered there are art forms out there that allow the before-process to fall away, my creative freedom as an artist felt limitless, and so I began to fall in love with abstract portraiture/figurative work and Impressionism.

I’ve always had a love for renaissance art, particularly those with heavy mythological influences - the way the artist’s of the renaissance age elongated or shortened figures and features in order to portray a certain mood/tone/character. The movement in the figurative works, such as Botticelli’s “Primavera” are attractive to the eye, they’re fluid, melodic. I realised it’s all to do with that “growing” feeling of creating, like an idea spreading - and that’s where I made the connection between renaissance art and abstract art/Impressionism - how would these infamous, iconic pieces look stripped back, with just the movement showcased?

'Primavera' by Botticelli

I made it my goal to ensure that it was known to the would be attendants that you do not need to be an artist to enjoy or create art. The premise and prospects of these workshops was not to create a completely fleshed out concept/artwork, but rather to enjoy the freedom of movement within art that is not realism or a fully realised piece. I think this made those who attended much more comfortable and at ease with their skill set. In one’s artistic journey, I think it’s important to explore and be clumsy with different media/styles/techniques. Whenever I’ve tried this myself (both at home and at Blueprint100 events) I’ve often re-visited these practice works and though “oh, that’s actually a really interesting concept!”. So I think my biggest achievement from these workshops was teaching people that you can draw inspiration from yourself and your own creations.

The general feedback from the attendants was that they enjoyed the freedom they were given with the styles and practices, and that the Renaissance references were fun to work with. I certainly enjoyed myself, and I would like to take the freedom of movement farther with projects and workshops - hopefully in collaboration with Blueprint100!

Caitlin Bemis.


© 2020 Blueprint100 in affiliation with The Stove Network

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