"Old Master Dialogues"

mholmesart@gmail.com ● 509-838-6878 ● Spokane, WA

Elements of Varnish Making

“It took many years to realize how great a gulf separates the contemporary artist from his or her seventeeth-century counterpart. There are few teachers of the ‘old way,’ for there are no living links to the workshops of the ‘golden age’ where technical understanding and sound craftsmanship were the norm. Speculations about the ‘secret of the masters’ have proliferated since the eighteenth century, but often proved untrustworthy. In 1987, I resolved to no longer rely on the opinions of others and undertook the study of the materials of painting, their chemistry and technology, in historical sources and the scientific analysis of art in museums. This was combined with much practice in making paint by hand.

“I found old master effects that some associate with style really arose from a simpler, more direct relationship with the raw materials themselves, before materials for artists were supplied by industry. Painting in deliberate layers and glazing was simply a way to get the most out of a few pigments combined with oils and natural resins. My goal is to attain the level of expressive freedom and control of the seventeenth-century masters, to return to their foundation while taking full responsibility for the integrity of my art.”

Melville Holmes

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[vimeo 114276544 w=500 h=375]

Classic Holmes Still Life from Melville Holmes on Vimeo.

Using techniques derived from his studies of the materials and methods of the Old Masters, artist Melville Holmes has painted richly luminous, contemplative still life paintings for many years.