red, green and bronze

Red, green, and bronze: Virginia creeper in the rain. virginiacreeper-best-blog I was exercising the weather resistance of the K-30 and the DA* 55mm f/1.4 lens we call the Mouse (Or maybe “Maus”.  I’m not sure yet.)  in the backyard this morning, and was surprised to discover that in this rainy light, the old chain link fence looks just like bronze, giving the finished images a pleasing (to me, at least) vaguely Japanese feeling.

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the mystery of the missing bedroom

Two visits to the Art Institute two weeks apart enabled me to discover a secret passage leading to a mystery.  The secret passage is the one connecting the second floor of the new Modern Wing to the Impressionist galleries on the upper floor of the old building– enter through the back of the Caffe Moderno (after stopping to eat a bacon scone) — it will save you ten minutes walk and a climb up the big staircase.

On the first of my recent visits I happily entered the Gallery with the Yellow and Green Van Gogh In It, eager to see one of my very very favorite pictures in the world, only to find that only four days before, it had disappeared under mysterious circumstances. bedroominarlesnoticeWell, maybe not so mysterious. Mysteries do not usually leave a tidy little notice on a preprinted and numbered form tacked to the wall behind them.

Then I went back last week, and notice #2173 was gone, and this was in its place. bedroominarles1-blogI’ve seen this painting, which I have loved since I was a kid, approximately a jillion times, but it never fails to show me something new or at least make me happy by being mild and utterly quotidian and passionate and profound and full of color.  I don’t think I’d ever been to the Art Institute before and not seen it. There are several versions of “The Bedroom”, sometimes called “The Bedroom in Arles”, but this is the best one because of the color of the floor and the window frame and the way the table is sitting.

(image of the picture as it was hanging in the gallery last Thursday, Pentax K-30, Pentax DA*55mm f/1.4.  Exposure data for photography nerds: 1/160, f/2.8, ISO 1250.)

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“let’s add cars to old landscape paintings”

We seem to be on a fine art kick here on the old blog recently, and I say if we can catch a trend we should saddle it up and ride it off into the sunset.  So when I was taking my morning constitutional through the wilds of the internets and found a great art link, I knew I’d also found today’s special topic. So here, from Jalopnik … Wait. Jalopnik? Isn’t that the Gawker blog dedicated to sarcastic coverage of the auto industry and other car related topics? Oh, yeah. And today it’s the home of the aptly titled  “Let’s add cars to old landscape paintings”.

In this feature readers (whose digital image manipulation skills vary from rudimentary to mad) add cars to old landscape paintings (and newer landscape paintings, and other kinds of paintings) with results that range from thought provoking to just silly.  Also included are some beautiful Thomas Hart Benton paintings that had cars in them originally.  Expand the comments to see all the entries, but here are two of my favorites to get you started.  First, Monet’s classic Impressionist work “Amphicar and Water Lilies, Giverny”.old car landscape-amphicar monet And who can forget Edward Hopper’s lyrical “Lancia 037 on a Road in Maine”?old car landscape-lancia 37 hopper

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tumblr sunday: see venus by elephant

tumblr_ndd2zwz7pv1s7wovzo1_500It’s my own interpretation, but I sincerely hope this pulp science fiction cover by the great Frank R. Paul was inspired by a story where tourists come to Venus and are carried on swamp and jungle tours  by a flotilla of trained elephants. Science fiction elephants for the win.

(image via tumblr,  by way of the blog of transparentoctopus, which is full of interesting things.)

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the temptation of the byzantine dog mosaic

I could resist the human figures, the stag, the camel, even the giraffe, but I snuck my phone out of my pocket to take two illicit photographs of the Byzantine mosaic with the little dog.

Can you blame me, really? He’s a rather wonderful little dog, and very inspirational.  (The plant forms are terrific too.)

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some words that start with the letter Q

I happened to be riding in the car with a friend of mine today, and he told his fellow passengers that at school this week their class had made a list of a hundred words that began with the letter T!  Looming over his weekend, however is the prospect of having to do the same next week with the letter Q– a rather more difficult task.

So here’s a little head start, with quote and quotation, quill and quilt, quaint, question, quart and quarter, with quirt, a small whip carried by cowboys, quotidian (concerned with the mundane and everyday), quorum (the number of organization members who must be present to vote on business) quarrel (either an argument or the bolt fired from a crossbow) and my favorite Q word, queue, meaning a line or a pigtail braid, and which is pronounced “Q”.

Then my husband came home from work and we gave the matter further thought while I cooked dinner, with quake and quaff and quack and quit.  How did I forget queen and quite, quiet and quality, quell and queer and queasy, quibble and quiver and quartz, quantity and quinine (the stuff that makes tonic water taste like tonic water, and also the medicine they give you for malaria)? And then there’s quick and quad and quadrangle and quarry and quadrant and quizzical and quip. And quail. And query and quandary.  And quiescent, which neither of us could quite remember how to spell, though I got it right the first time when I typed it.

If I’m counting right, there’s 45 or so pretty good English Q words to get you started. Good luck, little dudes.  My guess is you may have to cheat add some proper names like Quentin and Quetzalcoatl and Qumran, which is the name of the place where they found the Dead Sea Scrolls.

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best of the drawing of the day, week 129: giant space rat

Regular reader Wolfie and the amazing Masako were here at World Headquarters this morning on their way to Chicago to see the Magrittes.  (They took me along and we had a great time in spite of the crowded galleries.)  While he waited around for me to get everything sorted out so we could actually leave, Wolfie amused himself by looking through the current drawing of the day sketchbook, and he told me I should post this one.  So, by special request, here’s the drawing I call The Giant Space Rat.drawingoftheday-week129-giantspacerat This is another drawing that took its inspiration from a quick sketch of a character in a leaning pose.  When a character is leaning, that character needs to be leaning on something.  The large oval shape in the rough could have easily been a spirit rock, an architectural fragment, or the head of a statue of a forgotten god, but I scribbled in fur instead and made it an enormous animal with tiny eyes and antennae.  A smooth tail made it a rat, the antennae (of course) made it a space rat, and a giant space rat turns the figure into a spaceman character.

Except that the slender figure and the helmet came together to suggest not so much a space man but a space cadet, rather along the lines of a character in a Heinlein juvenile.  And as sometimes happens in a Heinlein juvenile, I think when that big disguising helmet comes off at least one of the other other characters is going to be surprised that the adventuresome fella who’s buddies with the giant space rat is actually a spunky gal!

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old school photography to blow. your. mind.

No, we’re not talking about film here.  No Instamatics or Polaroids,  not even a box Brownie.  No, we’re talking daguerreotypes, a marvelously complex system for making a photographic positive on a mirror polished metal plate.ff_daguerreotype3_f

The year is 1848.  The place is Cincinnati.  On September 24th, two guys named Charles Fontayne and William Porter took a truly epic daguerreotype panorama of the waterfront, using 8 plates. It’s the first photograph ever taken of a steamboat, the first photograph ever taken of a railway station, and the resolution is so precise that once it was digitized you could read the time on the clock on the clock tower, although the face is less than a millimeter across on the plate.  (It was 5 minutes to two.)

Read a great article about the Fontayne-Porter panorama and how it was digitized and restored, including an excellent description of the art of daguerreotype and digital images of all the plates, at WIRED magazine, here. I chose the image above because of the cool steamboats, but all of them are worth studying.   Highly recommended.


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save the phone doodles!

We’ve discussed before the long and honorable history of the phone doodle, that marvelous school of art practiced by practically everyone in the days when there was always a pad of paper (or a conveniently placed painted wall) near the phone where you could write down all those important messages.  Yes, young people, there used to be a time when people didn’t have their own phones in their pockets at all times, and they had to used shared phones!  One phone in the house for everyone in the family!  One phone in the hall for a whole bunch of people in a dorm!  A payphone on a street corner or in a drugstore or in a hotel lobby for anyone to use!  You really had to write things down.

So this morning, when I had to take an important phone call and take some serious notes about some serious business, I found myself doodling a  phone doodle for the first time in a long time.  Save the phone doodles!  They’re getting to be an endangered species.phonedoodlecorgi2This one’s a corgi!  The paper is the inside back page of the drawing of the day sketchbook, the pen is some kind of really sharp, slippery gel pen that I found in the Coffee Cup of Doom and Art Supplies.

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you save big money, big, big money …

Almost all Americans who live in the part of that big, big country we call the Midwest can complete that sentence with the phrase “when you shop Menards”.  Menards, for those living elsewhere, is a regional big box store. 90% of its inventory is a wide range of stuff for doing things around the house: cleaning products, tools, light fixtures, plumbing, appliances, paint, lumber, doors and windows, garden supplies, etc. etc. and 10% is … other stuff: clothes, a huge selection of candy and weird snacks, fireworks, hunting gear: basically an assortment of things Menards thinks the customers who come in for the do it yourself goods might also like to buy.  I have no idea if the following items are in the first category or the second.

The animals are also available individually at lower price points, except the camel, which is apparently a luxury item.

Note that while all the other characters are in good supply this early in the season, there is only one cow left.  Buy now to avoid disappointment.

Here’s the finished version with the entire cast– and the price list.  Note that the Baby Jesus is not listed here, since he is included in the three piece basic set.  So what are all those $18.99 Baby Jesuses for?  Is Menards stocking vitally needed Nativity scene replacement parts? (Also, although it isn’t specified on his sign, Baby Jesus is Illuminated too.)

(Yes, it’s easy to amuse yourself at Menards while your spouse is looking at boards.  No disrespect to anyone’s religion is intended.)

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