One of my basic goals in life has been to improve things; probably lots of people feel that way, maybe most people do, but this month it has brought me to an emotional lock-up situation. I like the Ginevra de Benci painting by Leonardo da Vinci, but the online pictures of it do not show it with good clarity. I have spent several hours in physical presence of Leonardo’s works and wish for many more so when I was looking at the online images it a pain me to see how poorly presented they were. I have had this problem before with pictures, with entire books and even whole world views and my response, silly response, was to go fix them. This particular time the fixing has lead to the downloading of the best digital picture I could find and then a month of tedious picky, picky, picky little picky corrections of the painting. First I started with the gross cracks, of which there were many, then the smaller cracks of which there were a great many more, then the warped paint chips which caught the light and went spectral white of which there was a vast number and then the discolorations, and the warping of the paint. Each of these I laboriously picked away and after about eighty hours of this I posted my restoration in progress. But, when I look at that now it seems so grievously un-restored I’m not even linking to it. More, and more and more picking and it looks much better but strange to say, and this is the reason I am posting this blog, the more clean up I do the more flaws I see! Although the picture looks better, brighter and cleaner to a casual view, even greatly enlarged view, to my eye every pixel in the whole thing looks flawed. I have done little else this month, and more, other than clean up this painting. My blogs have suffered because I have been tossing them off almost as quickly as I can type. I have gone to a social event almost every day, but hurry away from them, so I can get back to what I have been ironically calling “my girlfriend”. She is over five hundred years old now and shows her age in so many ways but what grieves me greatly is that she has been abused, again and again and again. Someone, even picked her up at some point with very dirty hands and left some serious finger prints embedded in the paint, which I decided to remove. That was a slight problem because some art critics claim these finger prints were Leonardo’s and he was using his fingers to add texture. That is certainly an error because they do not add anything to the painting. They are located exactly where someone grabbing the painting (I didn’t say fool, or idiot buy you might) would hold their fingers. If I had eighty hours into my restoration when I posted it I must have over two hundred hours into it now, and now there are more obvious flaws to my eye than when I started. On the other hand there are things revealed which no one may have noticed for hundreds of years. When created it was probably the most beautiful painting in the world.
I am not trying to make things perfect; I only seek to remove obvious flaws.