Immerse yourself in the vivid colours, wondrous landscapes and marvellous rock formations in Persian Safavid and other Islamic miniature paintings. Explore Mughal and Chinese influences that synthesised along the Silk Road. Five courses will look at different elements - Earth, Air, Water, Fire and Ether. This first course, Earth, will focus on stylised rocks – joyous, animated and dynamic. Rocks are alive! And rocks do move - albeit slowly. They represent aeons of time.
You will produce your own unique rock formations based on ancient masterpieces. We will look at various paintings including the greatest masterpiece of Safavid miniature rocks - the Shahnameh of Shah Tahmasp - as well as paintings that span the Islamic world from its origins up to the Mughal and Ottoman Empires. The stylised rocks style is broadly similar to both Safavid and Mughal painting and was influenced by Chinese rock styles. We’ll look at examples of Chinese Scholar’s rocks - oddly-shaped rocks - and the relationships to Chinese landscape painting.
We will trace a continuum of rocks and use rock typology to discover classic iconographic forms as well as adding our own unique spontaneous anthropomorphic elements imbued with a sense of joy and play - animated rocks that look like animals or figures. These are spirited rocks imbued with a sense of fun and delight. Rocks can flow like molten lava, whirl into semi-spiral forms, mushroom into multifarious formations, skyrocket out of the frame or stand firm and strong as cliffs, providing support as mountains to other pictorial elements in a miniature, or they appear alone, as floating islands suspended in the landscape space. Rocks are full of latent energy and represent the variety of life.
This course is especially suited to Beginners since there is no real wrong way to paint rocks. No previous experience is necessary and all courses work equally well as standalone courses that can be taken individually. However, to get the most out of them and to gain a thorough grounding in miniature painting, we recommend taking all 5 courses. Continuing students taking the cycle again may start a new painting or bring along works in progress to complete.
The following courses will explore Air: Clouds; Water (lakes, rivers and seas); Fire (the Dragon, Phoenix and the Simurgh) and Ether: the Supernatural (Angels, Divs and Demons).