Pentimenti – my new favorite word. It’s derived from the Italian word for repentance.
While waiting for a student tour to arrive, Timothy David Mayhew – a recent artist in residence and expert in Old Master natural-chalk technique – curator of education Catie Anderson and I were admiring chalk drawings from the Woodson Art Museum’s collection. Tiepolo’s Head of an Old Bearded Man with the faint lines of the first attempts still visible, elicited a discussion about the unforgiving nature of chalk; once drawn it cannot be erased or removed. The merciless nature of the medium trains the artist to master a light touch and embrace the ghostly remains of previous efforts – the pentimenti.