Odds & Ends

Random Studio Image

The mixing area on my palette, as it appears on a typical work day. I like to be sparing with my use of medium, so I brush it onto about a 4x4 inch area, and mix directly in there or just dab my brush in, depending on how much I need.

Psychological Profile
I was amused at this article detailing the personality characteristics of typical entrepeneurs: "Stubborn, delusionally optimistic, creative, fearless, flexible and focused are some of the ways psychologists and business people describe the personality of an entrepreneur. Surprisingly, another word is ignorant." In a sense, artists are all entrepeneurs; delusional optimism and willful ignorance are helpful traits to have.

Joking aside, one point of this article is the hidden opportunities for developing businesses during a recession. I think there's a lesson in there for me, and probably other artists as well. Sure, things seem rotten economically, but it's also a great time to be fleshing out new ideas and finding alternative ways to build a following. Taking as a given that sales are not going to be robust, the current environment could be thought of as an opportunity to be creative without pressure to always produce salable work.

Andrew Wyeth, 1917-2009
A long life, well-lived.

Prado + Google = ?
The answer is... AMAZING. Google has placed ultra-ultra-high resolution images of 14 masterpieces from the Prado in Google Earth. The interface is a little contrived (the painting floats above the museum, and you have to fly into it), but that's my only complaint. The level of detail that's visible is unbelievable, and much greater that what you'd ever be able to see in person (except for that small area of most paintings where you really can get your eyes up close to the canvas). For instance, here is a detail view from van der Weyden's "Descent of Christ from the Cross":

This is exactly the kind of technology I love to see. It's potentially a huge step forward in museum culture, particularly when institutions start digitizing and making available - in this detail - the 90+ percent of their collections which are not displayed to the public. I personally think it would be a much better use of resources in the long run than mounting yet another blockbuster show.

Predictably, some commentators are raising their hackles about how important it is to see art in person. I do agree, but not wholeheartedly. It's generally a good thing to visit museums, and I do so reasonably often. But... I don't actually enjoy museums. The experience is a lot like going to a crowded mall, except you have to pay to get in, and there's an overwhelming air of oppressive formality... not the best environment for really absorbing the art.

I treat my museum visits like trips to the bookstore: I do some browsing, find books I might not otherwise have found, flip through a few pages. The real reading, though, takes place in my living room. Same with museums; it's a chance to see new pieces, but when there's something I'm genuinely interested in, I find a way to study a good reproduction from home. And that's where I see so much potential in the Google/Prado partnership. Hopefully this is the first of many.

Requires Google Earth to see. Thanks to Skott for the tip.