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Aug. 25th, 2016

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Thursday Shuffle #5

This week's songs behind the cut.

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Aug. 18th, 2016

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Thursday Shuffle #4

This week's shuffle selection behind the cut:

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Aug. 11th, 2016

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Thursday Shuffle #3

As usual, eight random songs chosen by my iPod on shuffle. Enjoy!

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Aug. 4th, 2016

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Thursday Shuffle #2

Second Thursday Shuffle installment.

Again, these are the first eight tracks which appear on my iPod when using the shuffle feature. No cheating. :P

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Jul. 28th, 2016

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Thursday Shuffle #1

In what might prove to be an interesting experiment, I will begin posting a weekly feature called Thursday Shuffle, in which I’ll share the first eight tracks that register on my iPod using the shuffle option.

I won’t cheat the reader—I’ll actually post the first eight tracks that come up. If it’s good enough to sync to my iPod then it’s fit to share with you. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about here, right?

Cue “It’s raaaaaaaaaaaining men!”

Out of 13,000+ tracks, which I’m constantly updating as new music is added to my collection, this might be interesting. Even I haven’t heard all the music on my iPod. This will be fun for all of us.

I don’t intend to provide commentary. Just simply post the track titles and a YouTube link of the song if available.

And I’ll keep them behind the cut for those who might not be interested. No offense taken if you skip. Really.

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Jun. 30th, 2016

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Jennie Brownscombe - Love's Young Dream, 1887

I’m very happy to conclude this year’s Art for the Month of June with American painter Jennie Brownscombe’s ‘Love’s Young Dream,’ located in the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington D.C.

In this piece a young woman of modest upbringing watches a man on horseback while an older couple—presumably her parents—are seated on the front porch of their home. The mother seems concerned for her daughter, while the father is oblivious, absorbed in his book. The title indicates “dream,” therefore I am to assume she is only an admirer of the distant rider—not his partner. Both her feet are positioned toward us as the rest of her body is turned to watch him, which gives me the impression that she was conversing with mother before suddenly finding herself distracted by the man’s appearance.

At the daughter’s feet a kitten playing with mother’s ball of string, perhaps symbolizing futility in the young woman’s preoccupation with the gentleman. Based on the fallen leaves and appearance of the trees, I would guess this scene is set during autumn, which further suggest unrealized opportunities within the realm of love. Yes, cheerful, I know. That said, Brownscombe’s painting has a sentimental touch, offering hope to the daughter.

I can identify with this painting, though not directly with its theme of unrequited love. Rather I interpret Brownscombe’s narrative as a metaphor for unavailing ambition, which could be applied to many different pursuits in one’s life. The mother seems to understand her daughter’s plight, though I get the impression she will wisely refrain from interfering, allowing her daughter to learn from experience as her inevitable heartbreak unfolds. Such is the case when one takes on a new job, buys property, or takes on any other risky endeavor. Some things are doomed from the start, as you stand there with a pitiful bouquet of weeds as your dream emerges before your eyes only to slowly clip-clops out of vision, but that’s part of the process, I guess.

And on that note, I hope you enjoyed this year’s Month of June selections!

Details behind the cut.

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Jun. 29th, 2016

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Edgar Melville Ward - The Coppersmith, 1898

Today’s selection is ‘The Coppersmith,’ a wonderful environmental portrait by American painter Edgar Melville Ward. Delicately holding the kettle to the window light, our tradesman examines the piece for imperfections. Observing him absorbed by this simple item, I would imagine he takes solace in his work. His serious expression communicates his thorough attention for detail and admiration for his own craftsmanship. Mined from the earth, copper provides him his trade and operates as a means of expression, and there’s something harmonious about him using the natural light from the window to inspect new his creation.

Ward also provides a fine rendering of the coppersmith’s workspace. Full of rustic tools and devoid of unnecessary detraction, we can tell this tradesman performs his work solemnly, focusing his attention on the task at hand to achieve the highest quality product. He takes pride in his work and enjoys it as his passion.

Subject aside, I also enjoy this piece for its aesthetic qualities. The point of the anvil is made prominent by use of the shadow from the fallen paper in the background. The mallet is angled elegantly against the lower-right frame of the frame. And all the tools and various project found on the workbench give ‘The Coppersmith’ a special credibility, as if taken from first-hand observation. All these elements in Ward’s painting feel very precise, though the scene maintains the sort of natural quality one might associate with a snapshot.

Details behind the cut.

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Jun. 28th, 2016

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Henry Mosler - Just Moved, 1870

‘Just Moved’ by American painter Henry Mosler shows a family relaxing together after having moved their belongings into their new home. Located in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, this is a wonderfully detailed piece which provides an interesting portrait of its subjects, allowing us to see their most important possessions before they’ve been properly arranged throughout the space. For those who don’t live in a studio, when was the last time you were observed in the same room as your kitchenware, mattress and washer? Folks with the available space usually keep these items these items in separate areas, distributing their activities and necessities throughout their quarters. ‘Just Moved’ presents this family’s belongings in one single image, allowing the range of household items to speak for their tastes and living conditions.

This dwelling could use some repair, but it’s nonetheless acceptable by working class standards. In the far upper left corner we can see broken glass in the transom. Above the coat rack some of the wall appears to be chipping away. And I can’t ignore the black exhaust seen around the hole used for the stove pipe. These are minor damages which could be amended with a little paint and some manual labor, however they provide helpful insight regarding the social status of this family.

The father certainly looks relaxed, sitting on the table while resting his feet on the stove. Having hung up his coat and relaxed down his suspenders, he’s ready to enjoy a beer while sharing a loaf of bread with his family. I find it very quaint how the baby is reached up toward him while cradled in his mother’s arms.

I really enjoy Mosler’s rendering of the stove, seen on the floor along with its legs and pipes. Despite the stove’s black finish, within the lights I notice a slight pink reflected from the wife’s dress.

Another detail I admire is artist’s signature, which is seen in the bottom right, written with the perspective if it were etched into the floorboard.

On a final note, I keeping circling back to the scenic painting hung on the wall. I would presume the family put this piece up shortly upon entry—sort of like throwing down an anchor when a ship arrives at its destination—before moving their other belongings inside. Obviously this home offers them new sights from outside their window, but they’ll still have the familiar scenic image seen in the painting, carried over from their former residence.

Or maybe the previous occupants simply left the painting behind for the next poor suckers. With that in mind, who knows how long it’s been hanging in that spot, reluctantly endured by tenant after tenant.

Details behind the cut.

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Jun. 27th, 2016

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Nikolay Bogdanov-Belsky - New Fairy Tale, 1891

Today’s selection is ‘New Fairy Tale’ by Russian painter Nikolay Bogdanov-Belsky. I love the sight of this group of children huddled together, listening to a new story as their imaginations take them beyond their humble living quarters. I'm most intrigued by the expression of the two kids at the left; they appear mesmerized, absorbing the tale like travelers patiently awaiting their destination. I find myself identifying with those two pairs of eyes, for as adults we experience periods of transition during which our lives undergo drastic changes—both personal and professional—and while we never quite know where we’re headed, sometimes change works in our favor, offering new insights and opportunities.

And, in the case that one were planning their own life-changing event, sometimes, for reasons beyond their control, it never comes to fruition—just another fairy tale, conjured up to occupy their thoughts, effectively distracting them from their present situation. For some it’s a way of coping, I guess.

In a nutshell, that’s how this piece resonated with me.

As for the work itself, Bogdanov-Belsky supplies a vivid rendering of the scene. My favorite details include the cat nested on the stack of books, the modest bed in the background, and the lamb peering in at the doorway, as if it were listening to the little boy read aloud. This room is messy, with books and straw scattered throughout the floor, but I guess that’s to be expect when livestock is allowed to trot and make themselves at home. It’s just a different way of living—a huge contrast to the ultra-sanitized environments we require for children now.

On a final note, the blanket hanging in the background, as well as the scarf worn by the girl, feature a design which is unfamiliar to me, though I’m sure someone more studied in Russian history could identify it.

Detail shots behind the cut.

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Jun. 26th, 2016

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Frank Bramley - A Truce, 1912

‘A Truce’ by English post-impressionist painter Frank Bramley feels like a somber epilogue to an intense argument. I sense that there was a conflict between the two women, as they don’t seem particularly enamored with each other’s’ company. They also appear to be exhausted from their supposed confrontation; one woman is seated at the table, slouching over with her hand at her forehead, while her companion is sitting on the floor—somewhat of an awkward sight—and comforted by a small dog at her side. Behind her head is an open window, and to me this detail represents a release of the tension which recently filled the room. 'Truce' is what one might describe as the uncomfortable calm after the storm. At any rate, whatever transpired between these two subjects has— at least temporarily—been resolved.

The use of light is key to the moody atmosphere of our scene. The blue cast from outside contrasts against with the warm, yellow emission from the right, located directly off-canvas. I like how this interior light source illuminates one side of the woman's face while also casting a deep shadow upon the windowpane. This creates an unsettling ambience, indirectly alluding to a conflict between our two subjects.

And one a final note, I really enjoy the distant landscape glimpsed through the window. I would presume this is morning, but it could also very well be dusk. I would like to think our two subjects argued through the night, finally reaching their “truce” at dawn, itself symbolizing a new beginning.

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