Fred Wessel is a contemporary artist who is inspired by the artists, materials, and techniques of the early Italian Renaissance.
Working in the painstaking medium of egg tempera, Wessel paints jewel-like portraits, primarily of young women in somewhat classical poses. These are set off — as many paintings were in the early Renaissance — by flattened backgrounds incorporating gold, silver, and palladium leaf.
In this respect, he is exploring the aesthetic of the time in which a painting was not simply an image, but a precious object in its own right.
Though the technique is from the Renaissance, and carries the feeling of that approach, Wessel’s paintings simultaneously feel quite contemporary.
The Technique section of his website includes step-throughs of two of his paintings.
One of the galleries on his website is for “Constellations”, which appears to be a major theme in his work (images above, top four). These egg tempera portraits are set against backgrounds of star charts of various constellations done in or embellished with metal leaf.
You will also find galleries of florals and still life, as well as of drawings. Many of his drawings are done using the early Renaissance technique of metal point (images above, bottom), in which lines are drawn on prepared paper with a thin wire of silver or a similar soft metal. These are often set off with metal leaf as well.
See also my previous post on Fred Wessel from 2006.