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Archives for September, 2006

“Blog” is not good enough

We need new names, folks. Some of us have multiple blogs. We use blogs as building blocks for sometime larger than a blog. If you use bricks to build a house, then what is it that you build with blogs? We need a name for this thing.

“Site” is not specific enough. You can have a site without any blog components at all.

“Hyper-blog” is lame. Who wants to be a “hyper-blogger”? Ditto “super-blogger”.

Any ideas on names for the structures we are building?

Pears and personification

Here are two paintings of pears in which Hanneke van Oosterhout seems to express human personalities.

Look how different are the characters she has painted.

In the first painting, the pears seem innocent, perhaps prudish. In the second painting, the fruit is sensuous and, well, quite the opposite of prudish. In the first painting the pears seem not quite ripe. In the second painting, the surface of the pears shows they are at their sweetest, but will soon be too old.

Both paintings use a bowl to contain the pears. But the tone here is different as are the pears. In the first painting, the blue ceramic, broken and reassembled, has a world-weary character that forms an interesting contrast with the fruit. In the second painting, the bowl serves as a container, but is otherwise more neutral.

The neat folds of the cloth in the second painting are an interesting contrast with the wild disarray of the pears. In the first painting, the tabletop is more stark and hard.

These pictures make one think about what goes on in Hanneke’s mind. “I didn’t paint them like this on purpose!” she insists. I wonder if I believe that.

Travels with the blog

plein air landscape painting
Painting From Life vs. From Photos

Today I went across the country to visit Hanneke van den Bergh and her bronze sculptures (the journey only took an hour and a half by train — The Netherlands is a small land.) I saw a lot and learned a lot. I’ll post all about it as soon as I write it up.

Site feed and the art of web design

A reader mentioned that my RSS feed was not in order. I didn’t even know I had a site feed, but now I have become a dedicated RSS user, for my own site as well as for other people’s. I realize I’ve long been yearning for something like RSS. [Below is an example of Candy Minx’s blog as seen in my newsreader, click image to enlarge]

Some time back we debated the virtue of minimalist site design. What RSS lets readers do is to take the content out of your site and display it in a minimalist context. Every site has a different “look and feel” which the webmaster lovingly crafts. RSS let’s you bypass all of that and get the content in pure form.

Which means, you should read your own blog in an RSS news reader to see how it looks. I got some surprises.

As for the art of web design, site feed suggests that the minimalist approach is best. If readers can bypass your site’s style, then it makes sense to keep flourishes in web design to a minimum, and focus on the content itself.

Or do I have the conclusion backwards?

To Frame or Not to Frame?

plein air landscape painting
Painting From Life vs. From Photos

On the question of how to frame pictures for exhibition, Angela Ferreira commented:

I think the best way to exhibit any painting to appeal to a wide variety of buyers is to display it with a very simple effective frame, or leave the canvas unframed. Framing can be distracting and might not appeal to some — most people like buying a painting and then framing it to their own house style.

Of course, a painting only has to appeal to one buyer — the one who takes it home. In this way, a painting is different from a book or a song. Most people know how challenging it is to frame a picture. If the artist does a good job in choosing a frame, this can save the buyer a lot of effort and decision-making.

The right frame can enhance the value of a painting. But the artist takes a risk in framing, as Angela implies. The time and money invested on the frames may not be well spent.

Should artists consider the frame as an integral part of their work and strive to get it right, whatever the risk or complexity? Or is it better to leave framing to the buyer?

[See the poll at the top of this blog, right column]
[See also post on Photostream]

In real life, the frame matters

plein air landscape painting
Painting From Life vs. From Photos

It is somewhat rare to show framed pictures on the internet. Perhaps this is because the internet is something of a frame in itself. We are here following Hanneke van Oosterhout’s still-life painting, from the drawing to (hopefully) the gallery-sold work; in real life her work benefits from the real type of frame.

Choosing a good frame is difficult. Compared to painting the painting, choosing the frame is highly constrained by one factor in particular: cost. The ideal frame can raise the market value of a painting, but before an exhibition, one does not know what will sell. Investing in the frame is therefore a sort of speculation. For the painting above, Hanneke felt she made a satisfactory choice. The physical texture of the frame complements that painted in the shells. The frame is made from pre-fabricated profile stock and was not inordinately expensive. In the photo it looks pretty good. But in real life the frame screams, “second rate quality!” The reason for this is simple. The physical texture of the profile stock, prefabricated rather than hand crafted for this frame, does not “mesh” at the corners where the profile was cut and joined together. This subtle aspect is important in real life. It undercuts the value of the frame (and the painting) for the discerning collector. I suppose the really discerning collector would buy the painting and invest in a new frame.

In the work above, the frame is hand-crafted. That is to say, someone did some work decorating the frame after the corners were joined. In the photo, this is not obvious, but in real life, it makes a big difference in the feeling of the frame, its feeling of worth. Of course, this type of frame is somewhat more expensive. But if a painting is good, a certain quality (and expense) of frame is called for, otherwise the frame drags the painting down. A good frame helps, but better no frame than the wrong frame.

The frame depicted above (sorry about the quality of the photo) is made from pre-fabricated stock, the type of frame you can buy at a normal frame-making shop. Although not “hand finished” it does not have a “cheap” feel to it. The reason is clear: the profile “meshes” at the corners, because of its simple form. A handcrafted frame of a similar profile would appear more sophisticated, but the frame above does quite well. Or does it? You comments, as always, are appreciated.

Don’t forget the frame

Certain types of paintings should be framed. Framing poses a challenge for the artist. The choice of frame will have a great impact on the appearance of the work. Yet the painter here must generally make a selection, rather than create the frame him or herself (possible, of course, but an artform in itself and very time-consuming). Hanneke van Oosterhout is struggling with the great frame problem with her still-lifes now. See Follow the Painting.