Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Long Lost Tools

In doing research on John James Audubon and his times in St. Augustine, Florida I came upon information that Audubon used a camera lucida to capture some of his bird and mammal studies. I then came across mention an artist's tool with which I was not familiar, a Claude Mirror. This is a small, black, convex mirror, usually sized for the hand that was used extensively by artists and tourists in the 18th and 19th centuryto contemplate, reconfigure and transcribe, that is draw landscape. The idea is that faults in ones paintings tonality should become easier to spot. As all colors are equally tinged with the color of the glass it has the effect of creating simpler arrangements of tone and so making it evident if one color is lighter in tone than another. Unity in the light and dark masses of the painting should therefore be easier to see. When you look through the glass,you notice less tonal variations and a simplification of tonal masses. As the amount of light is reduced while viewing the scene through the mirror, the amount of visible detail is greatly eliminated.........................WhatI also found interesting is that this was used by tourists to view vistas that they encounter along the way..........Poet and novelist Hugh Sykes Davies observed groups of tourists facing away holding their claude mirrors away from the object they wished to view, and commented: "It is very typical of their attitude to Nature that such a position should be desirable"............Artists, I'm sure that one can be made easily enough. Go to Goodwill and look for a small frame with curved glass (two might be better for depth), use Liquitex Mars Black paint to eliminate all light on the front and use the verso for viewing. Me....I am a "fauvist" painter, color and tonality is rational ,my painting is not. I like what Gauguin had said in 1888,
"How do you see these trees? They are yellow. So, put in yellow; this shadow, rather blue, paint it with pure ultramarine these red leaves? Put in vermilion."


  1. The black scrying mirror, or magick mirror, is a powerful psychic tool. It can bring the user hidden knowledge and clairvoyant ability and can act as a portal to other planes of existence.

  2. Aha! Now Suvo's agenda starts to become clear!