Most of us would probably run away from working in Morandi’s tedious, time-consuming style, although it is helpful to know about the way he works.To describe his style in a nutshell it could be said…. “control.”
Giorgio’s handwriting is completely in the “controlled style” because he builds up his work by way of what is called “hatching.”
To start off, Giorgio makes a series of short parallel strokes. For a darker tone he introduces another set of strokes over the top of the first ones, mostly at right angles. “Hatching” one on top of the other at angles is called “cross-hatching.” To ensure the tone is under control, Georgio keeps his strokes short, usually about 1” long.
Morandi adds a still deeper tone by working another series of strokes at another angle and so on until he gets the darkness he wants. In other words, the picture is built up piece by piece. Giorgio liked fine lines so usually did his work in pen and ink with a fine pencil drawing underneath. This pencil drawing was erased after the cross hatching had been completed (many hours later!) Morandi also loved the etching process which married very well with his style.
This is the work of a methodical and deliberate person and one can’t help but wonder how long one of these drawings must have taken.
The beauty of Morandi’s style is that the hatching cannot be seen from a distance. If one stands back from the work, no outlines can be seen, just gorgeous soft shades of grey.
His tranquil still life paintings are contemplative, a lesson in colour harmony and composition.
For the record, Morandi mostly used four tones…a light, middle light, middle dark, a dark and of course the pristine white of the paper (the most important tone of all!) It has been said Morandi not only investigated the essence of the objects he painted but he also suggested their aura. When you look closely at his many drawings, etchings and paintings I think you will agree.
You can read more about Morandi in this interesting article.