I thrilled to walk into a church in Rome to find famous paintings by Caravaggio, that were virtually in darkness until you put in a coin into the light box. The "Calling of St. Matthew" for one. Unbelievable.
Later when I was in the beautiful city of Dresden, I saw Manfredi's "Soldier's Quarters". What struck me about this painting was the composition, the way that an arm would lead the eye through the composition; or the way the angle of a sword draws one back to the melancholy figure. Everything seemed to work towards creating movement that would help to avoid a static image.
One day this past year I decided to put up a large piece of canvas on the wall, gessoed it with high quality oil primer as opposed to the usual gesso, and proceeded to try to copy the basic composition of the Manfredi painting. Knowing that my intention was to abstract the images, I wasn't too concerned with including every figure or being faithful to detials such as the wooden carvings on the table and so on.
Lately I've started to play with abstraction, adding thick impasto and bold colour with the intention of eventually have it be completely abstract. I want to see whether one could make an abstract composition based on the original baroque aesthetic. Right now I'm taking a kind of break from it as I quite like how some of it is turning out, but every now and then I'll add a little bit more here and there. So far it has been a year in the making. Perhaps another year before it is done. But I'm certainly enjoying the challenge.