May 26, 2013

Drawing on Touch

Some years ago, I saw an exhibition of Persian miniatures at the National Gallery in Washington, DC. Some of these were placed under a magnifying glass so viewers could see details otherwise not visible to the naked eye. How, I wondered, could these artists create intricate patterns smaller than they could actually see? Later I asked a doctor that question and he told me that the sense of touch is more finely tuned than eyesight so that it could be possible that miniature artists would create details not entirely visible by sight.

My own eyesight is still pretty good for an older lady, but certainly not what it used to be. The drawing I do now I do with the aid of reading glasses. Some of these, like the one pictured to the right, have very small detailed patterns. And I do sense that I’m relying more on fine motor coordination than sight to create them. In my featured drawing today that I call The Virgin of the Doors, the background is rich with these details. Curious to see how these details would hold up under magnification, I scanned and enlarged a one inch by two inch section from the upper right corner of the drawing. This is the enlargement at the top of the page. The details look a little furry at about ten times the original size but they are there and in the right places. Not as fine as a Persian miniature but certainly feeling like one.

I made a number of paintings from my original sketch of the Virgin of the Doors, which was adapted from a small oil on wood Italian icon. I’ve retained one of these paintings. The rest have found homes in various parts of the country. My sketch turned miniature drawing is now retired from service and in a nice binder.

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