Did you know-Michelangelo

Some little known facts about one of the greatest artists of all time


We all know who Michelangelo is, everyone has seen the statue of David and the Sistine Chapel, but what do we really know about him? Two weeks ago, we wished him a happy 539th birthday in the article Happy Birthday Michelangelo! and showed you some of his more famous pieces. Today, we thought we would present some little known, fun and interesting facts about his life and art:

  • Michelangelo was the first western artist to have a biography written about him while he was still living.
  • Michelangelo was raised and went to art school in the Republic of Florence, present day Tuscany, Italy, and when he died in Rome, he had his remains secretly sent back to Florence where his body was laid to rest at the Basilica of Santa Croce.
  • He was not only a better artist than most of us, but apparently a better writer than most of us. He was a poet and around 300 of his poems and are still around. He was also famous for having written countless letters throughout his life. About 490 of his letters have survived and actually contain his original signature!
  • Michelangelo's full name is Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni and his first name is pronounced Mic-elangelo not pronounced Mike-elangelo like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.
  • He had sculpted the statue of David, the Pieta, painted the frescos on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and designed a dome St. Peter's Basilica-all before he turned 30 years old.
  • Michelangelo wasn't in fact, always an artist. When he was fifty-two, he took two years off to join the army and defend the Republic of Florence as an engineer. He was in charge of creating fortifications to defend the city during battle. 
  • Michelangelo broke his nose as a teenager. He suffered a hard punch to the face from Pietro Torrigiano, another student at an art academy in Florence. The punch left Michelangelo with a permanently crooked nose for the rest of his life. 
  • Many have speculated that Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel's ceiling by laying down on the scaffolding. Actually, he would stand up and paint above him the entire time, standing on very high scaffolding. Anyone who has ever painted their ceiling in their apartment or house knows the pains of trying to paint upward-Michelangelo was truly a master of his craft.
  • Michelangelo was a bit of a hermit-despite being quite rich, he lived as a poor man and didn't like to be around others unless it was art involved.
  • He was always a bit ashamed of how hard he worked to create the wonderful pieces of art he finished. He would often rip up old sketches because he didn't want people to see how hard he worked. He was often very critical of his own work and had a volatile temperament. He once said of himself "If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn't seem so wonderful at all"
  • His nickname was Il Divino (the divine one) and he was well known for the awe-inspiring grandeur included in his work. 

Michelangelo was an interesting character through and through. And with his works, he may have well been one of the most interesting men in the world!




Making Your Values Really Stand Out

Why Shading is Important in your Sketches

Many people like sketching because of the realism that can be depicted from their drawings. However, when drawing on a two dimensional surface like paper, depicting that realism can be difficult. The solution to this problem is to create shadows and shade while you sketch. Light and shadows are the factors that add dimensions to your drawing. They define the objects visually giving the object  a sense of value and depth and a three dimensional appearance. By shading a drawn object a certain way, the viewer can see how something sticks out. These are the sketches that capture the imagination and bring life to their art.

When we look at everyday objects, a without touching them, we can visually see the objects as 3D because of the way light reflects off of them and shadows are created behind them. When we look at objects in this light, we are seeing them through the eyes of the artist. We give the objects value based on how light or dark certain areas appear. Look at where the light reflects on an item. Determine where that light is coming from, the placement of the light will affect how real your shadows appear-if a shadow is not where it should be, it will distort your drawing. 

We all see the circle on the left as a flat object while the object on the right looks very three dimesnional

How to think about Shadows

Adding casted shadows is a great way to make your sketch appear three dimensional. A cast shadow is the dark area cast on an adjacent surface by a solid object. Think about the figure shown above to see what I mean. The things to look for when looking for shadows is to find where the light areas are, these are called light values, these will be the brightest areas of your drawing and probably wont require any shading. Then find the dark values, where on the object you're sketching are the shadows. Finally find the cast shadows because these will be the darkest in your sketch. 

When you shade and add shadows to your drawings, you create a contrast between light and dark and you can accentuate the differences between objects. This will make your sketch much more realistic and give it a more interesting look.

Creating Value and Shadows

To create shadows, you can hatch or cross hatch with your pencil on the area you want shaded. Hatching, or making slanted lines to shade in the darker areas are great for objects that lack a lot of texture or hair on a person that all flows in one direction. Cross hatching is like hatching but instead of a bunch of slanted lines parallel to each other (///////), you cross them like Xs (XXXXXXXX). This can shade in a darker area very quickly or add more texture to a drawn object. 

Notice in the image above that single hatches are used for the flatter and lighter areas of the dog's face. Single hatches also are good for showing depth. Look at the dog's eyes for a clue on that. Cross hatches are used closer to the more textured and darker, more defined areas of the dog's face like the ridges of the ears and on the dog's nose.

The Perfect Pencil for Sketching and Shading 

The right tools can definitely influence the way you shade something in. We at Jerry's recommend the Jerry's Jumbo Jet Black Pencil. It's perfect for quickly covering large areas while giving you the precision to make strong defined lines. Charcoal pencils are great for shading and adding dimension to your sketches and this one is no exception. Charcoal will glide right off from the pencil to paper and is sensitive enough to shade both lighter and darker areas. The right kind of pencil or pen can be important to give your work the right amount of definition it will need and this pencil excels at it!




What's the Buzz- Grey Palettes

Find out why so many people are making the switch

Many artists have found a fairly new product on the market and are going crazy for it. Grey Palettes have technically been around for the longest time, but are just resurfacing in popularity. Painters in very olden times used to put their paint on slabs of marble because the grey color of the marble didn't reflect light off of it distorting the image of the color like a white or wooden palette would. Grey palettes offer a toned, neutral background that lets the artist see the colors as they will appear on their paintings. Compared to a white palette, the way a color appears on a stark white is extremely different from how it appears on a tonal painting. White palettes reflect light and create shadows , thereby altering the appearance of the actual color of the paint. Now, two grey palettes have been growing in popularity and artists have been making lots of noise about the Mijello TruColor Neutral Grey Palette and the disposable Grey Matters Paper Palette.

Mijello TruColor Neutral Grey Palette

Fredi Weber, Ellipse and Artelier style Grey Palettes from Mijello

The Mijello TruColor Neutral Grey Palette is a neutral, middle grey toned palette that is sturdy and ideal for mixing colors while providing lots of compartments to keep your colors pure. It has a large mixing area that is solvent resistant so you can mix oil paints with turpentine or mineral spirits without worrying about damaging the palette itself. It is also available in three different ergonomic shapes (the Artelier Airtight Palette even comes with a paint preserving lid). Now lets see why artists love it so much and see what the buzz is all about:

"The gray color of this palette makes it so easy to judge the color of your paint before you apply it to canvas, many wells to keep paint separate, and more than adequate mixing area. I am very excited about this Palette."-billean01

"The Palette ad tells it like it is. The gray color of the palette gives the true color of the oil paint. The color seen on the palette is the the color that goes on the canvas. The seal allows you to use your oils for about a week, longer if placed in the freezer. Cleanup is a breeze."- Kitty the Artist

"A gray palette was recommended by an instructor so this is the first time I tried it. This particular palette was good for traveling, light, easy to clean and best of all, the lid kept the oil paints fresh overnight."- Squeak

"I just ordered a second Artelier Grey Palette. The acrylic and oil paints stay fresh at least two weeks. Mixing on gray palettes gives the true color on the canvas. No longer any need to throw away dried paints. Saves time for set up to paint. The Palette cleans up easily with no staining. I highly recommend the Artelier Grey Palette."- Painter Ann

Grey Matters paper Palette

This grey palette is slightly different than the Mijello. This Grey Matters Paper Palette offers 50 disposable pages for holding and mixing your paint until you're finished with your masterpiece. Then when you finish, throw that sheet away! No clean up whatsoever. It even includes a mixing reference guide for your colors so that you can mix them properly without any color distortion from the palette. Now, lets see what real artists have to say about it:

"Super Convenient. Quality product at a very reasonable price. Keeps things from getting messy. Great for classes or Plein Air."- Anonymous

"My art teacher recommended this palette paper. The grey color provides ease in mixing, and blending of oil colors. Love it"- Sandee

"The grey color is perfect for color mixing and allows true colors. This is so much better than the traditional white paper palettes. I encourage all my students to use this product."- Life of a Daily Painter

Grey Palettes are definitely stirring up quite the buzz! Also, keep your eyes open for the SoHo Grey Toned Disposable Paper Palettes, a great value for students and painters of all skill levels. We played around with it this week here in the office, and our painters here have had quite the field day mixing colors and seeing the colors exactly as they look hitting the canvas. 

Remember, keep sending us your opinions on our products and you might just find yourself up here on the next edition of What's the Buzz!

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