Found in Translation: The Art of Sfumato


Painting is such a wonderful medium. Before photography, it was considered as the medium that could recreate real life. Portraits and landscapes are life-like, and for the seasoned artists, there's a technique to be called here: sfumato.

Credits: jourdanlynch, andrejrusskovskij, mishaassis & brettallensmith

The term sfumato came from the Italian word fumo, meaning smoke or fume, and when roughly translated to English, it would mean soft, blurred or vague. Sfumato is usually used as an adjective or verb in Italian language, but when used in English context, it most likely refers to the technique.

According to the Britannica Encyclopedia, sfumato is:

“Sfumato is, in painting or drawing, the fine shading that produces soft, imperceptible transitions between colours and tones. It is used most often in connection with the work of Leonardo da Vinci and his followers, who made subtle gradations, without lines or borders, from light to dark areas; the technique was used for a highly illusionistic rendering of facial features and for atmospheric effects.”

To put simply, sfumato is the technique to soften the transition between colors, and da Vinci was the prominent practitioner as seen in the iconic Mona Lisa. For da Vinci, sfumato as "without lines or borders, in the manner of smoke or beyond the focus plane". The Leonardeschi, the artists who follow da Vinci's footsteps and school of thought, were known to use sfumato. Raphael used this in the Madonna of the Meadow_.

Lomographers, you are at an advantage here! To recreate paintings that used sfumato technique with the camera, we suggest using a pinhole camera to make naturally ethereal ambiance. If by chance you have the Petzval Lens or the Daguerreotype Achromat 2.9/64 Lens, you'll have more freedom to experiment with smoky and wispy textures.

Credits: fotobes, reneg88, brettallensmith, goettia, duffman & andrejrusskovskij

2018-08-16 #culture #sfumato #found-in-translation

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