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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Old Masters New Visions Painting Seminar Payerbach, Austria 2014





 In March this year I decided to go to Austria, to take part in the Old Visions New Masters painting workshop, run by the visionary artist, writer, philosopher and teacher, Professor Philip Rubinov Jacobson. Prof. Phil, as he is known affectionately by his students, teaches the traditional painting techniques of the Old Flemish Masters and early Renaissance painters of the 14th and 15th century. These were artists such as, Botticelli, Jan Van Eyck, Messina, Hugo van der Goes, Andre Mantegna, Leonardo da Vinci, Albrecht Altdorfer, Hans Holbein, Pieter Bruegel and many others. These Renaissance techniques are still considered to be the finest in the history of painting.
Jan van Eyck-
 Giovanni Arnolfini and his bride
Leonardo da Vinci-
Madonna of the Rocks
 I had long achieved a measure of mastery with modeling paint and a high degree to realism in my work but had for some time, struggled to find a way to achieve a greater depth, luminosity and light. I had got the bright colors, yes, but my shadows seemed flat and without depth, I needed to progress my painting technique. I read about the mische technique after I joined the visionary art collective, called The Society of Art of the Imagination, (AOI). The founder is the British fantastic realist, artist Brigid Marlin. Like Brigid, Prof. Phil, studied in Vienna under the world renowned Austrian visionary artist, Ernst Fuchs .

The techniques of the old Masters were considered lost to history by the 20th century and it was Ernst Fuchs, along with Arik Brauer, Rudolf Hausner, Wolfgang Hutter, Anton Lehmden and Fritz Janschka, who began to research the Old Master’s painting methods. All were students of Albert Paris von Gutersloh. It was Gutersloh’s emphasis on the techniques of the old masters, that influenced their painting technique and a small revival was born among the visionary artists. 1946, they founded the Vienna School of Fantastic Realism. In addition to his own research, Ernst studied the manuscripts of Max Doerner(1870–1939) a German artist and art theorist, who wrote The Materials of the Artist and Their Use in Painting published in 1921. Doerner Institute
Ernst Fuchs

After 1954, with Fuchs's fame spreading in Europe and the UK , many artists came from America to Vienna, including Professor Phil, and others, such as, Bob Venosa, Mati Klarwein, Joseph Askew, Brigid Marlin, Bob Venosa, Herbert Ossberger, Linda Gardner, Clayton Campbell, Hanna Kay, Sandra Reamer and Olga Speigel, and many others. They were joined later by artists from around the world and a new World-wide Art Movement was formed.
About the Mische technique. Is a method of painting with egg tempera, used in combination with oil based paints and resins to render a luminous, resonant realism. The egg yolk of the egg tempera is a naturally occurring emulsion of water and oil. As such, the old masters found ways of extending the natural advantages of its emulsion to create lean, siccative, smoothly transitional and semi-transparent layers of paint. The visual effects created by working in the mixed technique essentially rely upon the phenomenon of light refracting through many subsequent layers of paint that are luminous and jewel-like


On Wednesday, June 11th, I flew first to Miami from St. Maarten in the afternoon and then in the evening, took the night flight to London. I am not a fan of travel though I do like seeing new places, but airports, train and bus terminals are hectic, busy, noisy stressful places, with delays, unexpected changes etc, and who the heck sleeps on overnight flights? I was glad to arrived in London on Thursday morning where I was met by my stepdad who drove me to my late mother’s house in Luton.  I had just enough time the next day to get some art materials I needed for the course in the town center. These were things I couldn't get on my little island St.Maarten, such as a varied selection of brushes, oil colors, permanent inks and other stuff. At 2am on Saturday morning, I took a bus to Stanstead and flew to Vienna very early.



The walk on the road to Payerbach
 from Gloggnitz
With instructions emailed to me from the Professor, from the airport, I managed to locate the train to Payer-Reichenau. Apparently there are two trains, an inexpensive slow one (snail ban) and a fast one expensive one. Conserving cash, I took the slow one. I arrived in Payerbach around midday.




 
Payerbach is a little Austria town nestled in a valley below the Rax mountain range of the alps, about an hour or half drive from Vienna. Its famous for the Semmering Railway, and the town had been long been a vacation spot for the Austrian imperial family and other celebrities of Viennese high society, such as the famed Austrian psychoanalyst, Sigmund Freud.


 I had a reservation at the Hotel Payerbacherhof and once I got off the train it was just a little walk to the hotel. It was extremely quiet I walked into reception and found no one except a huge yellow Labrador laying across the hallway, he came to greet me in a friendly fashion. Eventually some one came out of a doorway. It was the son of the owner. He helped me take my luggage up to where I would stay for the duration of the workshop. I had booked the shared female dormitory. This turned out to be a very large room in the attic, with a number of beds in it.

I was the very first one of the students to arrive, even the Prof and his partner artist Mantra Cora, were not arriving till the next day. It was nice weather to walk and explore but I was exhausted. I just wanted to lay down and sleep. The attic had beautiful old wooden floors and wooden beams, the roof was full of many skylights, that gave great views of the mountains and surrounding area and plenty of light, too much light, actually it was blinding with sunshine. A housekeeper came up the stairs pulling a ladder, with black trash bags and tape to cover the windows for me. After seeing her small frame, nervously wobbling around on the ladder; I ended up doing them by myself, rather than see her injure herself. With a darkened room, alone, it was utter bliss to take a nap knowing I didn’t have to take a plane somewhere soon. Sometime in the evening, I went down to the restaurant and got a nice thick bowl of Hungarian goulash with a glass of local red wine. It did the trick and I slept well. 

The next day I meet the Prof. and Mantra Cora in the lobby. We only had time to exchange short greetings before they had to return to Vienna, to take back the rental car they had used to transporting here, all the materials for the course. They would then come back on the train. During the day I took a pleasant walk along the Schwarza river, admiring the mountains, meadows and forested hills. I walked in one direction towards the next town Gloggnitz, following the little road along the railway track and then I took a walk later in the other direction into another town, Reichenau.  The weather was beautifully warm and sunny. In time I met another student Romanie who came from Ibiza and Dakini from Amsterdam. We all ended up in the attic together, which we eventually dubbed the the ‘creaky attic’ on account of the ancient floorboards.
 

 
to be continued