Channeling The Old Masters
What does it mean to be one of the “old masters”?
Nobody can quite agree on the definition, but there are no Toronto art prints artists considered.
Toronto just hasn’t been around for long enough like many of the European cities where these great artists come from.
Most of us can accept that Michelangelo or Titian or Caravaggio fit the category, but what of those who were never fully trained, or who never became the masters of their local guild?
According to some, this disqualifies them.
While these distinctions in training or status may have had an impact on the social lives of the individual artists during their day, today we remember their work because it inspires us.
Would the Sistine Chapel be any less beautiful if we discovered Michelangelo never apprenticed under Domenico Ghirlandaio?
Would Goya’s famous “Saturn Devouring His Son” be any less horrifying if we discovered he never studied under Jose Luzan?
Today, these distinctions may be important to art historians, but an artist’s life and their work can exist independently of each other.
Consider Hieronymus Bosch.
We know he was born in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, a town in south Netherlands, where he probably spent most of his life.
He was probably born somewhere around the year 1450, and died in the year 1516.
He was a member of a religious group called the Brotherhood Of Our Lady, and married a woman named Aleyt Goyaerts van den Meerveen.
That’s about it.
We know nothing about his training, his feelings about his art, or even his temperament.
But that doesn’t make his art any less inspiring than anyone else’s.
The Garden Of Earthly Delights and his other works are still admired and discussed the world over by art lovers.
Generally, we consider old masters to have been born prior to the year 1800, but that date will certainly change as time goes on.
At some point in the distant future, our descendants may even enjoy the websites or YouTube videos of people they consider to be old masters.
In some of my most vain, hubristic moments, I like to consider the idea that some day I may be considered an old master.
Whether I will or not, I suppose I’ll never know.
I suppose that’s the nature of things.
For now, I can just enjoy the process.
This is one of the reasons I enjoy using ink as a medium.
The way the ink spreads across the page, its looseness, its malleability, helps me feel like I’m tapping into the magic they were able to achieve with their own works.
My studio is set up in my garage, within which I have a wood burning stove.
Creating art by the light of a fire adds to the feeling I get from the ink.
Leaving all electronics inside my house, I can turn my garage into a time machine, just for a few hours feeling like the artists of the past.
I may be dressed differently, but otherwise not much has changed.
During those moments, I have nothing but the canvas before me, the ink in my bottle, the brush in my hand, and the thoughts in my head.
It’s there that I’m able to connect with something greater and create.
Take a look at the photo below, and tell me how much evidence you can see of modernity.
If you’re sharp-eyed you’ll notice the garage door opening mechanism in the top, the pieces of paper with things printed from a computer, the labels on the paint cans, and perhaps the modern looking chairs.
But the surrounding is still perfect for me.
It’s not about stepping entirely out of the modern world; it’s about keeping it at bay long enough for the inspiration to hit.
Nobody from Canada is considered an old master (give it another century or three though and I’m sure you’ll see the Group of Seven considered), so when I paint a Canadian landscape I both tap into and separate myself from this tradition of the old masters.
Contact Francesco Galle
If you’re interested in the art you find on this website and have any questions, feel free to contact me using the information below.
I’m available for commissioned work, so feel free to contact me for that as well.
I also have a variety of prints available on my website, many of which were done with ink in the very surroundings you see above.
Until next time,