Saturday, March 7, 2015

Saturday Catch-All: Tim's Vermeer, Honey for a Child's Heart, Just Don't Watch!

It has been a long, long time since I've written one of my Saturday newsletters. I used to call them Saturday Commonplaces, because they were designed to capture the "commonplace" happenings of my life so they wouldn't be forgotten. However, the word "commonplaces" is ever increasingly being used as a description of the quotations that get put in a "Commonplace Book." So "Catch-All" it is...

Tim's Vermeer

Stephen and I watched the documentary film "Tim's Vermeer" last night on Netflix. It's the story of Texas inventor Tim Jenison's obsession with how Vermeer achieved the remarkable light and life-likeness of his paintings. At some point he read a book which speculated that Vermeer had used technology (in this case, a system of lenses and mirrors). Tim, who is not an artist, decided to try to replicate a Vermeer painting. It took him years of hard work, (He first had to replicate the room Vermeer painted in and all its furniture!) but in the end he was successful. In the process he proved that the theory that Vermeer used something like a camera lucida is certainly possible, if not probable. I was convinced, at least when it came to the inanimate objects painted.

I still have a question, though, about the people in Vermeer's paintings. To me it seems that this style of painting is almost like taking a picture. Jenison illustrates a technique that is completely objective...he painted exactly what he saw, and what he saw was exact. But the pictures of people...there is no way the models could have stayed still long enough for the technique Jenison illustrates in this film, is there? Jenison actually used mannequins for the bodies (obviously completely still), then helped his models for the heads he painted stay still using some type of head clamp. But when I look at, say, Officer and Laughing Girl, it seems like Vermeer caught the girl in a moment in time. If he really used the technique Jenison illustrated, painting even just her face would have taken hours. To me it seems like it would be like a camera shutter taking that long, and laughter is not a facial expression one could hold for hours. (I should say my husband does not see the issue here, so maybe I'm crazy... He thinks this would not matter, as a painter would be painting one part of the face at a time.)

I would really be interested in a sequel, Tim Jenison, just of you trying to paint the laughing girl, using a live model. I just want to know if it's possible.

Honey for a Child's Heart

I rediscovered a wonderful, wonderful book this week. I was reading and nodding and saying "Yes!" to every point Gladys Hunt made in Honey for a Child's Heart: The Imaginative Use of Books in Family Life.

Here are some quotes from the first chapter that made it into my Commonplace Book:

"Any good book can be used by God in a child's development, for a good book has genuine spiritual substance, not just intellectual enjoyment. Books help children know what to look for in life. It is like developing the taste buds of his mind as a child learns to savor what he sees, hears, and experiences and fits these into some kind of worthwhile framework."

"...As Christian parents we are concerned about building whole people --people who are alive emotionally, spiritually, intellectually. The instruction to train up a child in the way he should go encompasses so much more than teaching him the facts of the gospel. It is to train the child's character, to give him high ideals, and to encourage integrity. It is to provide largeness of thought, creative thinking, imaginative wondering --an adequate view of God and His world. He can never really appreciate the finest without personal redemption. But many a redeemed person lives in a small insecure world because he has never walked with God into the larger place which is His domain. We have books and the Book at our disposal to use wisely for God's glory."

Masterly Inactivity

Here's a picture from a week and a half ago. It reminded me of Brandy Vencel's Don't Look Theory of Parenting. Except, of course, I peeked. Just to take the picture. (In case you can't quite see, they are taking their little plastic sled straight down the 7-foot snowbank to the driveway below.) They came inside in one piece.

Brotherly Love

JJ(4) and MM(2) noticed that baby AJ had fallen asleep on top of his Papa (also asleep). A minute later, I noticed they had put a blanket over him and tucked in a couple of stuffed animals. Sweeties.