Angel in the marble.

michelangelo sketch.JPG

I must warn you that I don’t have a penny and that I’m barefoot and naked, so to speak, and I can’t get the balance owed to me until I’ve finished the work; and I suffer the worst of hardships and toil. So, when you have to put up with some hardship yourself, don’t be distressed, and as long as you can help yourself with your own money.Poems and Letters: Selections, with the 1550 Vasari Life via

Such are some of the thoughts of Michelangelo as he progressed through his life, not so much as a tortured soul, but rather exhibiting the dramatics, emotions, passions, and intensities of the life of a genius. Michelangelo is admired as an Italian sculptor, painter, architect, and poet, but it is his work as sculptor that he wished to be known, despite the Sistine Chapel. He believed sculpting to be the highest form of art and his natural calling. And yet, the frescoes of the Sistine Chapel are to many art historians the greatest achievement of the Renaissance, if not all of art history. 

Michelangelo was known in his world to have a volatile temper, go into sudden rages, and experience deep emotions and affections. Pope Leo X once said of him, "Michelangelo is impossible, and one cannot deal with him." Although he bristled at references of him as a "painter," he worked for four years on the ceiling of the Chapel - not upside down as the myth goes - and not without help. His helper crew mixed plaster and pigment and assisted in other ways, but according to Secret Lives of Great Artists (Elizabeth Lunday), his crew changed often. It might have been due to his temperament, but it also might have been that they all shared Michelangelo's small studio and the same bed. And, Michelangelo didn't believe in bathing often, considering it bad for his health. One does not need to wonder too long. (That book is on my bookshelf and I refer to it often. It is a fun read.)

The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.

Michelangelo was born in 1475 and lived a long life. He was still sculpting six days before his death in 1564. He became the standard by which artists were judged and the inspiration to centuries of artists, Rodin among them, as late as the 19th century. 

If people only knew how hard I work to gain my mastery, it wouldn't seem so wonderful at all.

The art at the top is a digital copy of a piece I made for a swap years ago. David is carved from an eraser. The portrait of Michelangelo was one I drew with Procreate on the iPad Pro. Although most of the faces I draw (one of my drawing passions) are done freehand, this one was a tracing of a photo.