Gilding, its traditions and materials have played an important role in my development as a fine art painter. I have been very fortunate to have worked on many extraordinary gilded objects in my profession as a conservator. Traditional frame making and conservation require strict methods to achieve the appropriate results for each individual project undertaken. This formalized world leaves little room for experimentation or self-expression. This is where my painting begins at the threshold of tradition.
The illuminated manuscript, with its gilding on real vellum, beautiful, time consuming with rigid rules of application for materials and results. I am fascinated with these manuscripts as well as Byzantine/Russian icons, their materials, systems of development and imagery. Through trial and error I have begun to find similar results with very modern materials and new processes. I work off a version of architectural vellum with enamel paint, archival ink, 23kt gold leaf and other precious metals. This vellum begins to replicate the traditional vellum ground. The use of gold leaf in my compositions provides a bridge between the worlds of tradition and my interpretive abstractions. Part of my incorporated imagery draws on traditional devices used in icons and other forms of illuminated work. Example, where the iconographer would develop a formal image and halo, solidity and transparency, I actually cut away the top layer of vellum to expose the 23kt gold leaf creating a physical window for the viewer to enter.
To abstract traditional imagery, work with modern versions of time-honored materials and remain free to pursue the new, this is where I step beyond the threshold of tradition.
Michele A Caron
Michele A. Caron has worked as a Fine Art Framer and Founder of Atelier Gilding & Framing, Inc since 1988 and has focused on handmade gilded fine art frames, frame conservation and restoration, consultation to collectors and significant museum and institutional conservation work. Michele’s continuing study of traditional methods of gilding has included European training, membership in the Society of Gilders and a National Endowment for the Arts grant to study with Jonathan Thornton at Oberlin College. Her current body of work is an exploration of repetitive structure and geometry in pigment-rich synthetic and industrial enamels. This course of study has allowed her to apply not only traditional techniques and materials but has made possible to open up new vistas for materials and composition. This body of work has been represented in the First and Second Biennial at the Saco Museum 2010 and 2012 and included in shows at Susan Maasch Gallery, Portland, Maine, River Arts, Damariscotta, Maine, Space Gallery, Portland, Maine, the Scott Potter Gallery, Portland, Maine, Yarmouth Center for the Arts, Yarmouth, Maine, The Palmina F. & Stephen S. Pace Galleries of Art, Whitney Art Works, Portland, Maine, Aucocisco, Portland, Maine, Engine Art Gallery, Biddeford, Maine, The Monmouth Museum of Art, Monmouth, NJ, Yarmouth Gallery, Yarmouth, Maine & Turtle Gallery, Deer Isle, Maine and Ocean House Gallery, Cape Elizabeth, Maine.