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A Peregrine’s Path, Issue no. 2

The second issue of A Peregrine’s Path went out to subscribers on Saturday.

CONTENTS

Now Available in Paperback
The first two books in the Littlelot series

Leap from a high branch
Haiku illustrated by Cristina Basile

Muses of Montparnasse
Future project preview

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The First Story of Littlelot

The First Story of
Littlelot

An Arthurian legend with knights and damsels and other action figures

In his game of make-believe, a boy must make a choice—break his oath to the king or break the heart of the woman who gave him the most meaningful gift.

A Peregrine’s Path
News of Stephen’s upcoming releases, previews of his books, and exclusive offers from
Peregrine Publishing

Choose your own path...


Berserkers

Cantercon, followed by the charmed fighting-woman, explored the corridor. At a door on the left, the corridor turned right. Thrace stood guard while the conjurer put an ear to the door.

002Through thick planks, he heard a murmuring voice that rose into a crescendo, “…and kill something!” followed by a chorus of “Yeah!”

He whispered to Thrace, “Berserkers,” and pulled a purse from his belt.

“What are you doing?”

“I’m going to hire them,” he said and knocked on the door.

A brief scuffling from the room beyond stopped in silence. Then a gruff voice said, “Who’s there?”

“Cantercon. I have a proposition for you.”

The door opened. Three men, armored in leather, swords drawn, stood in the doorway.

The conjurer held forth the purse. “One hundred gold coins and half any treasure found for you if you kill things for us.”

Broad smiles spread across battle-hardened faces.

Choose your own path...


The Making of a Fresco

“As far as Artimus knew, his would be the first attempt to actually recreate the cartoon as an authentic fresco. This was no small undertaking, nor was it a temporary commitment. A fresco was created by covering a large surface, usually a wall, in fresh plaster. The pigments would then be applied directly to the wall while the plaster was wet. Done improperly, the work could mildew if the mix was too wet, or reject the pigment and flake if it was too dry. Worse, the colors might shift as the plaster dried.”

—James A. Owen, The Barbizon Diaries

One of my first questions when contemplating any possible truth behind the legend of The Millet Fresco is this: Who among the assembled artists had the skill to make a fresco?

In The Dictionary of Art (Vol 11, Grove 1996), Jane Turner corroborates Owen’s description of the process. Turner also says that the artist generally employed a team of workmen:

“Fresco painting was technically demanding and was usually carried out on a large scale, so the painter had to be accurate in drawing up his composition and capable of organizing a team of skilled hands, from the masons to the assistant painters who were assigned the less important parts of the work.” (p. 760)

The description seems the antithesis of the lone landscape painter in a straw hat, easel strapped over a shoulder, box of paints in hand, ambling along a country road to a favorite meadow with a pleasant view.

Dictionnaire de l'art  de la curiosité et du bibelot 1883Not that it wouldn’t have been possible for any of the Barbizon painters to attempt such a work. They were all trained artists. Only I had hoped to find one of them had particular experience in fresco painting—or at least a mentor who did, so as to make a convenient target for further study. Cursory research into the lives of the principle characters mentioned in the legend reveals no obvious connection to any fresco painters.

The easiest way to avoid the question is to assume that when they spoke of a fresco the Barbizon painters referred to any kind of mural, no matter the technique.

The Dictionnaire historique de la langue française (Alain Rey, 1992) summarizes the origin of the French word and its evolution. In French, the term peinture à fresque [pronounced fresk] was borrowed in 1550 from the Italian dipingere a fresco, literally: painting freshly.

(In English the awkward literal translation painting freshly is replaced by painting in fresco. This is not the same as alfresco, also from Italian, which is used for dining as well as painting outdoors.)

By 1669, the French word fresque was used alone to indicate a mural painted with pigment on fresh plaster. Then, as soon as the end of the next decade (1680), though technically incorrect, fresque as any large wall painting came into general usage.

Furthermore, writing in the 1880s—thus contemporary to our would-be fresco painters—French architect Ernest Bosc describes the pigment on fresh plaster method. However, Bosc then goes on to say, “By extension, we use this term for wall paintings using encaustic (beeswax and resin) or wax, oil paint or by stereochromy.” (Dictionnaire de l'art. Firmin-Didot 1883. Translation mine)

So it’s within the realm of possibility that the Barbizon painters planned to make a mural using techniques more familiar to them.

However, in The Barbizon Diaries as well as in my discussions with the author, James Owen insists that, according to the legend told to him by his Uncle Clair, the work was to be a real fresco, pigment on fresh plaster. Supposedly, its difficulty is the reason Millet had refused earlier requests to undertake such an endeavor.

Therefore, in my research, I’ll keep an open mind and allow both possibilities: a pigment-on-fresh-plaster fresco as well as any other large wall painting.

As a side note, I find it as ironic as it is appropriate that these Realist painters, rebels against Neoclassicism, would choose to produce a monumental work in a classical medium.

Hemicycle d'honneur by Paul Delaroche

Hemicycle d’honneur by Paul Delaroche, 1837-41

This fresco à la cire (wax) covers a hemi-circular wall approximately 15 feet high, 80 feet wide at l’École des baux arts in Parisour next stop on A Pilgrimage to Barbizon.

___
Sources:

The Dictionary of Art, Vol. 11. Jane Turner, editor. New York: Grove, 1996.

Dictionnaire historique de la langue française (Historical Dictionary of the French Language). Alain Rey, editor. Paris: Dictionnaires Le Robert, 1992.

Dictionnaire de l'art, de la curiosité et du bibelot (Dictionary of Art, Curiosity, and Ornament). Ernest Bosc, editor. Paris: Librairie de Firmin-Didot et Cie., 1883.

Choose your own path...


Magic!

My mom told me I had to clean my room because toys were scattered all over the floor. It’s a lot of fun taking toys out of the toy box to play with them, but putting them back in is a chore.

Merlin Paints the Young Knight's Shield by Gustave Doré
Merlin Paints the Young Knight's Shield by Gustave Doré from Vivien by Alfred Lord Tennyson. London: Edward Moxon & Company, 1867

It would be easy if I were a wizard, like Merlin in the picture book I read with Granddad. I’d just raise my arms, close my eyes, and say the magic words: “Anath orthibis bethad!” and all the toys would be back in the toy box.

What if I am a wizard and just don’t know it? There was only one way to find out. I stood in the center of the room and raised my arms, closed my eyes, and said, “Anath orthibis bethad!

When I opened my eyes, the toys were still there.

But even if I’m not a wizard, I can always pretend to be one. So I stood in the center of the room and raised my arms, closed my eyes, and said, “Anath orthibis…

Then I ran around the room as fast as I could, picking up toys. When I came around to the toy box, I dumped them in and kept going. Once, twice, three times around, picking up toys and dumping them in the toy box.

After I dumped the last toy, I ran to the center of the room and raised my arms, closed my eyes, and said, “Bethad!

I opened my eyes. The floor was clean and all the toys, in the toy box.

Just then my mom came in to check on me. Looking around the room, she said, “How did you do that so fast, Littlelot?”

I grinned at her and said, “Magic!”

 

Stephen Wendell is a grown-up who believes in magic. He’s the author of the Littlelot series of books for children and parents who read to them.

 

The First Story of Littlelot

The First Story of
Littlelot

An Arthurian legend with knights and damsels and other action figures

In his game of make-believe, a boy must make a choice—break his oath to the king or break the heart of the woman who gave him the most meaningful gift.

Paperback
Available on Amazon

Ebook
Available on Amazon

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The First Story of Littlelot: Full-Color Illustrated Edition

The First Story of
Littlelot

Full-Color Illustrated Edition

An Arthurian legend with knights and damsels and other action figures

In his game of make-believe, a boy must make a choice—break his oath to the king or break the heart of the woman who gave him the most meaningful gift.

Paperback
Available on Amazon

 

Littlelot and the Real Monster

Littlelot
and the
Real Monster

Littlelot must overcome his fear to confront the monster that threatens to eat him and his family too!

Paperback
Available on Amazon

Ebook
Available on Amazon

Available on kobo

 

 

Choose your own path...