Monday, December 18, 2017


"Mezza-macchia" (literally half spot) was the term for a kind of a sketch taught in the Florentine Academy during the period when the Macchiaioli (Italian Impressionists) were getting their education.

Giovanni Fattori, Black Horse in the Sun
"The idea was to "study an object in just two tones, one for the light areas and one for the areas in shadow. According to the testimony of [Giovanni] Fattori himself, this exercise, which trained the eye to see in terms of broad tonal oppositions, eliminating details and indeterminate tonal values, was part of the standard procedure of instruction in academic studios at the time when he and other Macchiaioli received their training."
Quote: is from Baccio Maria Bacci, Preface to Telemaco Signorini's Caricaturisti e caricaturati al Caffè Michelangiolo
Book in English: The Macchiaioli : Italian Painters of the Nineteenth Century
Webpage: "Who were the Macchiaioli?"
Wikipedia: on Giovanni Fattori (1825-1908)
Previously on GurneyJourney: Two Values

1 comment:

Jim Douglas said...

Two-Value studies teach powerful lessons. Making them has taught me so much about the pictorial power of value, the relationship between light and space, and constructing bold compositions. Understanding these fundamentals has been my bedrock. The toughest part for me (as a beginner and still today) is deciding how to handle large, round forms (i.e. a sphere resting on a table top). The smooth gradation of values create many "grays" that fight the categorization into black and white. My reminder to myself and my suggestion to others is to ignore the halftone and reflected light as much as possible and set the boundary between black and white directly on the Terminator line. If you hold true to the rigidity of "light area = white" and "shadow areas = black," your finished picture WILL hold up. Dive in, have faith, be bold!