Elizabeth Briel, Travel Artist


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Painting With Fra Angelico

They were already there when I arrived at my studio: eight jars of mysterious blue powders.

 

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The powders were different grades of lapis lazuli, ranging in shades from neutral Payne's Grey to the most brilliant blue available to western painters until the 19th century: Fra Angelico Blue, which required a painstaking process to purify

Untitled

Fra Angelico's Virgin of Humility, 1435-45,Tempera on panel. via True Restoration

Medieval artists would glaze the purest blues over cheaper hues to maximize the precious pigment. Its name was Ultramarine, since for thousands of years the finest lapis has come over the sea from Afghan mines.

I wanted to use paints like these, but the purest forms aren't available. So this summer in my studio, I learned how to make them.

 

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Grinding glass with a handmade muller from Russia. The largest, heaviest grade is strongest and for me the most versatile.

 

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Mixing a batch of acrylic paint. Like fresco it should all be used in one session

 

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Paint patterns on glass can be mesmerizing

These paints will make my most personal series yet: examining where I come from, and an ambivalent relationship with my home country. More soon.

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