My second Monthly Miniature of Charlemagne the rabbit, follows a 500 year tradition of painting on copper primed with a clove of garlic.
Paintings on copper have been made by European artists since the mid 1500’s. Many examples from those first few hundred years survive even better than their canvas and wood panel counterparts.
Then as now, copper surfaces are first lightly sanded, cleaned with denatured alcohol, and topped with an optional layer of garlic juice. Garlic juice etches the surface of the copper and it’s most effective if followed by a coat of lead white. The process hasn’t changed over the years, except many more artists today (myself included) avoid the highly toxic lead white paint.
Artists don’t often get to grow their own art supplies. The garden is another huge creative outlet for me, and now a tiny bit of it is in this painting.
Check out Alberti’s Window, An art History Blog for an in depth discussion about Lavinia Fontana’s self-portrait above in reference to her being a female painter in the 1500’s.
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