1. My first task of the course is to practice restoring a painting by filling in missing areas. I chose to restore ‘The Dream of St. Ursula’ (1495) by Carpaccio. Elena, the tutor, cut out areas of the painting with a scalpel for me to restore.
2. Before I could begin to paint the missing pieces of the image, I had to add a layer of plaster to create a surface to paint on that was level with the rest of the print. To make the plaster, I melted rabbit skin glue over a pan of hot water and then mixed in the plaster powder.
3. In the missing areas of the picture, I scraped off the plaster with a scalpel so that it was level with the surface of the print.
4. On the bordering areas of plaster, I used sand paper to remove any bumps in the material and to smooth the surface.
5. My last task of the week was to draw in the missing pieces of the painting, ready to be painted next week.
6. Elena gave me an overview of the fundamentals of restoring paintings; compatibility of restoration materials or tools with the original artwork, reversibility of restoration techniques and recognition of the restored artwork as similar to the original.
7. I also learnt about the main types of supports for a painting and their history. The first type of support used in the history of painting was a wall, giving rise to frescoes. The second support used in the history of painting was wood, which required a high level of expertise since the quality of wood determined the lifetime of the painting. Later, in the 1500s, canvas became the preferred support for painters and artists would put the canvas through various processes whilst also relying on their sense of touch to judge the quality of a piece of canvas. The type of canvas that painters most commonly chose was linen, which was the most natural and elastic, making it easier to restore.
8. Aside from studying, I’m enjoying seeing the sights of Florence and walking around the city. This is the Ponte Vecchio at night!
9. I loved seeing the Palazzo Vecchio. There were so many amazing paintings but this ceiling was my favourite.