Vogliatemi bene


Vogliatemi bene Original Metalpoint Drawing in 24ct gold, pure silver and platinum and 24k gold leaf colourised in watercolour and an acrylic glaze 72cm x 52cm by Living Master Gordon Hanley

Artists Comment: “This piece is the latest in a collection of drawings being used by the Underground Opera Company in a live performance of 22 arias. Each drawing in the series has been filmed from blank paper to the finished artwork, a process often taking more than 200 hours to create, plus the time to make the video.

The challenge in this piece lay in its uniqueness and began with a vision. I was always intending to draw Butterfly as a Geisha. The abstract pattern behind her evolves into a pair of butterfly wings rendered in pure gold overlaying a painted sky recalling the unsurpassed beauty of a late Turner. The wingtips fragment and shatter, releasing a shower of golden butterflies. Turning that vision into reality was the real challenge and that made it unlike any other work in the series, or for that matter, any gold medium artwork that I have previously attempted. It is a Metalpoint drawn in 24K gold, pure silver and platinum, which is then colourized using watercolour. It is then worked over with 24K gold again and gilded in gold leaf. Finally, the gold leaf is glazed to give body and tonal depth.

Over the past two years I have been developing this technique and have created half a dozen works that use more or less the same materials. This image differs in that it is almost abstract in places, free-flowing, lyrical, unpredictable. This was the main cause of difficulty – I could not afford to make a mistake in an evolving composition and there was no image I could refer to except the one in my head. The image is anchored in reality – it is, after all, representational art – it is an identifiable image, but it has abstract elements in the treatment of the wings in particular and the Turner-like background that underpins the entire work, pulling the various elements in the picture together.

Due to the placement of compositional elements in this picture, there is less area available that allows for the expression of pure Metalpoint, in this case over a colourised background. The average number of individual stylus marks for a drawing of this size is generally around 800,000 to a million individual stylus strokes. But this has been more than counterbalanced by the large amount of gold leaf covered by dozens of butterflies emerging from the disintegrating wings of pure gold in the main figure. A total of 38 sheets of gold leaf were used in this artwork.

The ground I use is unique and is the main reason for the wide tonal range that is apparent in my Metalpoint drawings. It works with any metal, including copper, brass, and even coins or jewelry. If, however, the goal is to produce a colour image, then at some point. Watercolour needs to be added to the artwork. The coated surface is highly absorbent, so much so that the colours fade by 60% to 70% as they are absorbed into the ground. The problem was solved by applying successive layers of paint to the surface to re-establish the desired depth of colour and tone. The entire drawing was then worked over with 24k gold, except for the highlights, which are the raw unpainted ground. No white paint is used in any of my metalpoints. At the end of this process the image was highlighted in 24k gold leaf and worked over with a glaze to give depth, shadow and three-dimensionality to the completed image.

Original metalpoint drawing by ARC Living Master Gordon Hanley.

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