SH Archive Leonardo Da Vinci and his micro-brushes

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KorbenDallas
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2019-10-19 23:20:59
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KD Archive

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Long overdue, but there it is. Apparently, the paintings done by Leonardo da Vinci cannot be faked by no artist of today. No matter how talented the artists of today are, not a single one of them is able to create a painting of the same quality. I am not even talking about making a copy of Mona Lisa here. None of the today's masters are capable of applying paint in a manner allegedly done by Mr. da Vinci.
  • Note: with a paint brush they can't.
leonardo-da-vinci-experience.jpg

No Brush Strokes aka Sfumato
You have to give TPTB some credit. They are so good with making stuff up, it's almost impossible to catch them at it. In its approach, this Sfumato thing is a carbon copy of the Olbers Paradox. Obviously these are two totally different areas, but the instrument of BS production is the same.

MonaLisa_sfumato.jpeg

Anyways, what is Sfumato? Prepare for a load of baloney!
  • Sfumato is a painting technique for softening the transition between colours, mimicking an area beyond what the human eye is focusing on, or the out-of-focus plane. Leonardo da Vinci was the most prominent practitioner of sfumato, based on his research in optics and human vision, and his experimentation with the camera obscura.
  • The visual result of the technique is that there are no harsh outlines present (as in a coloring book). Instead, areas of dark and light blend into one another through miniscule brushstrokes, making for a rather hazy, albeit more realistic, depiction of light and color.
  • According to the art historian Giorgio Vasari (1511–1574), the technique was first invented by the Primitive Flemish school, including perhaps Jan Van Eyck and Rogier Van Der Weyden.
  • According to the theory of the art historian Marcia B. Hall, which has gained considerable acceptance, sfumato is one of four modes of painting colours available to Italian High Renaissance painters, along with cangiante, chiaroscuro and unione.
  • The word "sfumato" comes from the Italian language and is derived from "fumo" (smoke, fume). "Sfumato" translated into English means soft, vague or blurred.
  • The technique is a fine shading meant to produce a soft transition between colours and tones, in order to achieve a more believable image. It is most often used by making subtle gradations that do not include lines or borders, from areas of light to areas of dark. The technique was used not only to give an elusive and illusionistic rendering of the human face but also to create rich atmospheric effects.
    • Leonardo da Vinci described the technique as blending colours, without the use of lines or borders "in the manner of smoke".
  • Besides Leonardo and his followers the Leonardeschi, who often used it heavily, other prominent practitioners of sfumato included Correggio, Raphael and Giorgione. Raphael's Madonna of the Meadow is a famous example, particularly around Mary's face. The Leonardeschi include Bernardino Luini and Funisi.
Sfumato Translated
Without the descriptive layers of the above BS explanation, this "Sfumato" is just a magnificently creative way to cloud the readers judgement. The short and concise version of the above sounds like this - NO BRUSH STROKES CAN BE OBSERVED.
  • And jumping ahead, I can tell you what does not have any brush strokes. That would be my color printer, or my paint sprayer.​
color_mystery.jpg
And while the above is a bit far-fetched, the paint application methods used by printers and sprayers are probably not far off, from what we see in these Sfumato paintings. Of course, TPTB can not say that there are no brush strokes. Therefore they had to introduce the following:
  • M. Franck, consultant scholar at the Armand Hammer Centre for Leonardo Studies in Los Angeles, believes that the Mona Lisa was painted in hundreds of sessions with a technique of ultra-fine hatching - or criss-crossing of brush strokes - some as tiny as one-fortieth of a millimetre long.
  • He says layers of extremely diluted oil paint were piled up on one another over many years - using perhaps 30 "coats" of paint in all.
  • For his finer work, Leonardo probably painted with a brush in one hand and a magnifying glass in the other.
  • It was through this method, M. Franck says, that Da Vinci achieved the sublime effects which astonished and irritated fellow Italian painters at the time and have puzzled art historians ever since.
So there we have it: miniscule 1/40th of a millimeter brush strokes, magnifying glass and 30 coats of paint.

Show me the Brush!
1/40th of a millimeter = 25 micrometers
So, what exactly is 1/40th of a millimeter aka 0.025 mm, or 25 micrometers? Not like we are dealing with sizes like this in our everyday life. Let's translate this into something we are familiar with - a human hair.
  • Our genetic make-up decides whether we have thick or thin hair. Europeans considerhair with a diameter of:​
    • 0.04 to 0.06 mm as thin - 40 to 60 micrometers
    • 0.06 and 0.08 mm as normal - 60 to 80 micrometers
    • 0.08 and 0.1 mm as thick - 80 to 100 micrometers
  • da Vinci's brush strokes:
    • 0.025 mm - 25 micrometers
How Small Is One Micrometer?
The smallest particles we can see with our eyes are those that are larger than 50 micrometers, such as the larger specks of dust collected on our furniture. To give you an idea of how small micrometer-sized particles are, waste matter from dust mites is about 5 micrometers in size, while a strand of hair is about 100 to 150 micrometers wide.

dust_mite.jpg

By the way, did you know a single dust mite produces about 20 waste droppings each day? For us it means the below:
  • 5 dust mite shit piles placed in a row = 1 brush stroke of Leonardo da Vinci
Paint Layers
How did Leonardo Da Vinci manage to paint such perfect faces? For the first time a quantitative chemical analysis has been done on seven paintings from the Louvre Museum (including the Mona Lisa) without extracting any samples.
  • This shows the composition and thickness of each layer of material laid down by the painter. The results reveal that, in the case of glazes, thin layers of 1 to 2 micrometers have been applied.
monalisa.jpg
Specialists from the Center for Research and Restoration of the Museums of France found that da Vinci painted up to 30 layers of paint on his works to meet his standards of subtlety. Added up, all the layers are less than 40 micrometers, or about half the thickness of a human hair.

μm = micrometer
Coating Layers.JPG
This is an extreme closeup scan of a paint chip retrieved from the ruins of Belmont Art Park. The fragment is about 10 millimeters thick, and appears to consist of about 150-200 layers of paint.
  • For a sense of scale, note the ridges of a fingerprint in the lower right.
  • Source
  • 10 millimeters = 10,000 micrometers
  • da Vinci could fit 7,500 layers into 10 millimeters
  • da Vinci's 200 layers would be 266 micrometers aka 0.266 millimeters thick
car_paint.jpg
  • ~1/4 of a dust mite shit pile width = 1 paint layer of Leonardo da Vinci
Mortars & Pestles
Leonardo da Vinci typically painted with oil paint that he made by hand from ground pigments; later in his career, he worked with tempera made from egg whites. There it says it - "oil paint made by hand". What did they use in between 1452 and 1519 to grind things? Yup, they used mortars and pestles. Let's google image search for those 16th century mortar and pestles. We end up with something like this.

morta_pestle.jpg
Oil paints are made up of pigment that has been ground into an oil base, called the vehicle or binder. The most commonly used vehicle is cold-pressed linseed oil, however, it can be made with walnut oil, poppy seed oil, safflower oil or other less popular oils.
  • The pigment is where paint gets its color. A paint color gets its name from the pigment that is used. We first got our pigments from the earth in the form of rocks or powder, but now it is also manufactured from synthetic materials. Some of the oldest pigments known to man are made from colored earth like Yellow Ochre, Sienna and Umber. Other pigments are derived from mineral salts such as White Oxide.
oil-paint-pigments.jpg

In other words, to achieve a layer sickness of 1.33 micrometers, not a single particle can be larger that these 1.33 micrometers. Let us see what 21st century automated grinding machine can offer.

MP-1000 Mortar & Pestle Grinder
The MP-1000 is an automatic mortar & pestle grinder that is used to grind and homogenize a wide range of samples in a dry or wet state. It is highly effective for samples that are oily or pasty and offers good flexibility with respect to batch size, accommodating small or large sample quantities. The MP-1000 is especially well suited for applications with temperature sensitive samples, as it generates very little heat.
1000-mortar-pestle-grinder.jpg
Pretty sure it could be possible to grind random pigment particles to a pretty small size, but to suggest that every single one of those would be under the required standard... highly questionable to say the least. Imho, it's just impossible with hand tools and whatever other tools traditionally available in the early 1600s.
kd_separator.jpg
KD: Remember, the technique was first invented by the Primitive Flemish school, and it was used by quite a few artists of the same generation. TPTB can label stuff all day long with catchy things like "Primitive Flemish" and "Sfumato". I think it is fairly obvious, that certain things are impossible to create by hand and eyesight only. It appears that we are talking about the lost technology here, which has nothing to do with micro-brushes, and minuscule strokes.
AMEN
lv-compilation.jpg
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Timeshifter

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I did a long reply to this previously, and this topic features heavily in my book. Basically, I believe this is a photographic process. One thing that stoood out to me is that word 'Sfumato' doesn't appear in any text until 1800 plus... but was invented by DaVinci & co...

Screenshot_20200917-192635_Chrome.jpg
 

EUAFU

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Before watching some videos of painters on youtube I thought there was something strange about Da Vinci's brushstrokes, but now I think he had more patience than other painters.

It was for this, and for his other interests, that he painted few pictures.

Most painters want the effect, he wanted to test his theories about light and shadow in painting, so he needed to be very patient and paint slowly and with small brush strokes.

That said, I don't know when he actually lived, after all it might have been 200 years ago or 500 or 1000.
 
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Before watching some videos of painters on youtube I thought there was something strange about Da Vinci's brushstrokes, but now I think he had more patience than other painters.

It was for this, and for his other interests, that he painted few pictures.

Most painters want the effect, he wanted to test his theories about light and shadow in painting, so he needed to be very patient and paint slowly and with small brush strokes.

That said, I don't know when he actually lived, after all it might have been 200 years ago or 500 or 1000.
Agreed. People here tend to jump to the least likely conclusions just to prove wrong all that is mainstream. On the other hand, if it weren't for this out-of-the-box way of thinking, we'd have probably never had something called Stolen History right now.
 

Huaqero

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This is the secret of the 'Mona Lisa smile' and the reason why this thematically uninteresting painting is so much cherished, guarded and steadily promoted in our culture:
There is nothing special about the smile and never was. It is a PTB's invention to create a talking point of significance about the painting. Noone would ever notice anything about 'the smile', yet, through steady mentioning and promotion it has even become a part of our pop-culture.

They know that there is something special about the painting (they may even not be fully aware of it),
they do not want to tell you about it,
but they do not want it to be forgotten or lost, either.

Drawn from the PTB's vaults, they keep and show it and guard it, until the time comes for the technology to mature and help unlock the 'sfumato' claim. And then, the 'microbrushes' story is inserted into forums like this for some brainstorming exercise...
 

Ranxerox

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This painting is all about face recognition ability of humans. As human beings, the most accurate and detailed ”seeing” action is the one we do when we look to faces.
The mona lisa painting is a big achievement for that reason. It plays and manipulates with your face recognition neural network. It jams and hacks your algorhythm.
As a viewer for example, when you look at mona lisa’s face with your peripheral vision, the features and the facial expression changes. Your brain can’t decide the facial expression of the mouth and eyes. Try testing this on your own. Try to look it with your peripheral vision or try different looking experiences. For example notice the eyes while staying focused on the mouth and vice versa. The face (expression, mimics) changes accordingly because the clues for the expressions are not given clearly in the painting. They are manipulated by the artist, so your brain can not decide on a specific expression.
( written by a full time illustrator and a life long fan of the mona lisa painting )
 
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MgvdT

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Interesting post KD, makes you wonder... I've always gasped at the old Dutch paintings (especially if you compare them to other artists of the time) and their painters. Always wonder how sad they would be if they would see how we paint nowadays..
 

gossamer

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Absolutely fascinating stuff, it makes one frustrated that the real innovation behind techniques such as these has been lost. It reminds me a bit of the theory that Vermeer painted using a set of carefully constructed mirrors.
 

Mick Harper

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It ain't the paintings you need worry about, it's the 'cartoons'. The massive collection the Queen has, the ones that show helicopters et al, have no provenance stretching back beyond the twentieth century i.e. when helicopters et al were conjecturable. Yup, the ones nobody is ever allowed to examine. Not that I worry about them myself, ma'am, don't put me in the Tower, I'm just saying.
 

6079SmithW

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It ain't the paintings you need worry about, it's the 'cartoons'. The massive collection the Queen has, the ones that show helicopters et al, have no provenance stretching back beyond the twentieth century i.e. when helicopters et al were conjecturable. Yup, the ones nobody is ever allowed to examine. Not that I worry about them myself, ma'am, don't put me in the Tower, I'm just saying.
If nobody is allowed to examine them - how do you know about them?

Do you have a source for these cartoons?
 

Mick Harper

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The clue is in this plangent passage

There are almost 600 drawings by Leonardo da Vinci in the Royal Collection. They were originally bound into a single album, which was probably acquired in the 17th century by Charles II. Beyond the 20 or so surviving paintings by Leonardo, the artist's drawings are the main source of our knowledge of this extraordinary Renaissance man and his many activities.

When something is a sole source, used to be in a different format, and was 'probably' acquired in the mists of time, it is best to say, "Come off it, we didn't just fall off the Christmas tree" or words to that effect. When my crack team of researchers were let loose on the task, she said, "I can't find any mention of them before about 1900."
 

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