Ingenious Improvised Recreations of Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring, Using Materials Found Around the House

One can only tolerate so many educational videos in self-isolation before the brain begins to rebel.

Hands-on learning. That's what we're craving.

And ultimately, that's what the Getty provides with an addictive challenge to captive audiences on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram to re-create iconic artworks using three household objects.

Participants are encouraged to look at the Getty's downloadable, digitized collection and beyond for a piece that speaks to them, possibly because of their ability to match it by dint of hair color, physique or  perfect prop.)




Certain works quickly emerged as favorites, with Johannes Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring (c. 1665) the clear front runner.

The Mauritshuis, where Girl with a Pearl Earring is quarantined, along with other Hague-dwellers such as Rembrandt's The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Nicolaes Tulp and Fabritius' The Goldfinch, describes it thusly:

Girl with a Pearl Earring is Vermeer’s most famous painting. It is not a portrait, but a ‘tronie’ – a painting of an imaginary figure. Tronies depict a certain type or character; in this case a girl in exotic dress, wearing an oriental turban and an improbably large pearl in her ear.

Johannes Vermeer was the master of light. This is shown here in the softness of the girl’s face and the glimmers of light on her moist lips. And of course, the shining pearl.

Let's have a look, shall we?

 

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Vermeer's extraordinary application of light and shadow is a tall order for most amateurs, but it's wonderful to see how much careful consideration has been given to the original subject's expression, the cant of her head, the arrangement of her garments.

It seems the best way to study a work of art is to become that work of art... especially when one is trapped at home, seeking distraction, and forced to improvise with available objects.

Let us pray we'll be set loose long before Halloween, but also that the challenge takers won't forget how ingenious, easily sourced, and cost-effective their costumes were: a pillowcase, a button, an inverted party dress, the hem of a sibling's blue t-shirt, rescued from the rag bag still smelling faintly of vinegar from pre-coronavirus household cleaning.

That off-the-rack "sexy cat" won't stand a chance.

 

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No one's disqualified if the number of items used in service of these recreations exceeds the originally stiuplated 3. As long as the participants are having (educational!) fun, this is one of those challenges where everybody wins... especially the baby, the dog, the guy with the mustache and the lady with the turkey on her head, even though the baby and the guy with the mustache forgot their earrings.

 

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Some tips for participants accompany a handful of memorable entries on the Getty's behind-the-scenes blog, The Iris. We've got links to a number of world class museums' and libraries' digital collections here  and can't wait to see what you come up with.

Meanwhile, enjoy even more recreations by searching for #gettychallenge or having a look at the Instagram of Tussen Kunst & Quarantaine, whose attempt to conjure Girl With A Pearl Earring using a placemat, a towel and a garlic bulb, launched the project that prompted the Getty and the Rijksmuseum to follow suit.

Extra points if you accept the #neckruffchallenge inspired by our history-loving artist friend, Tyler Gunther's take on the #gettychallenge, below.

 

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Related Content:

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  She has been crowdsourcing art in isolation, most recently a hastily assembled tribute to the classic 60s social line dance, The Madison. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Join Choir! Choir! Choir! for a Community Singalong in Isolation

I love ya, and I think maybe if we sing together, well, we’d just feel a little bit better. Give it a try, okay? —Neil Diamond

Thus quoth singer-songwriter Neil Diamond on March 23, before launching into his surprisingly sturdy monster hit, "Sweet Caroline," having reworked its lyrics to promote hand-washing and social distancing to help control the spread of COVID-19.

He’s not wrong about the therapeutic benefits of group singing. Ditto the imperative to resist gathering publicly, or even in the homes of extended family and close friends, until this crisis is in the rear view.




Choir! Choir! Choir!, an ongoing community sing that’s attained global renown thanks to its frequent tours, charitable work, and the support of such starry personages as Patti Smith and David Byrne, has had to put the kibosh on live group events. (Check out their 2014 singalong of Diamond's "Sweet Caroline," above, for a taste of the proceedings.)

With everyone staying home, founders Nobu Adilman and Daveed Goldman quickly implemented a digital work around, inviting fans and first-timers alike to weekly online sing-ins.

Their next Social Distan-Sing-Along is coming up this Saturday, April 4th at 3pm EDT, featuring a campfire-themed playlist:

"The Weight"

"Blowin' In The Wind"

"Our House"

"Leaving On A Jet Plane"

"Redemption Song"

"Talkin Bout A Revolution"

"Dust In The Wind"

"Cats In The Cradle"

"Wild World"

(Sadly, no "Titanic," but perhaps that one’s more summer camp than campfire, and these days, it’s probably best to sidestep any number, no matter how silly, that springs from mass casualties…)

Participants are instructed to print a file of the song lyrics in advance and show up to the digital campfire (live streaming on YouTube or Facebook) with a couple of devicesenough to follow along with Adilman and Goldman, while simultaneously Zooming in any friends you've pre-arranged to sing with.

(With 1000s attending, one of Choir! Choir! Choir!’s usual joyslifting one’s voice with a vast chorus of mostly strangersis a logistical and technological impossibility.)

Participants are also encouraged to share footage of themselves singing along, using the hashtag #NeverStopSingingthough we remind our non-performance-oriented readers that this is merely a suggestion.

Choir! Choir! Choir in isolation may well attract shower Sinatras who’d never dream of opening their mouths at an in-person event.

It’s a golden opportunity for the vocally shy to become part of one of the biggest choirs in history, secure in the knowledge that the only people to hear them croaking away will be the cat, the dog, any human co-inhabitants… and, oh dear, what about neighbors in the immediate vicinity?

Don't worry about the neighbors. In fact, prick up your earsyou may hear them singing the exact same tunes.

Download the lyrics for April 4’s campfire here prior to joining in on YouTube or Facebook. If you miss this one, you’ll have another opportunity the following Saturday, when Choir! Choir! Choir! is hosting a virtual "sing-a-thon" in support of the Canadian Cancer Society Daffodil Campaign.

To get you in the mood, here are some of our favorites from Choir! Choir! Choir!’s classic playlist:

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Good Medicine: The Band’s Classic Song, “The Weight,” Sung by Robbie Robertson, Ringo Starr & Special Guests from Around the World

Patti Smith Sings “People Have the Power” with a Choir of 250 Fellow Singers

Brian Eno Lists the Benefits of Singing: A Long Life, Increased Intelligence, and a Sound Civilization

Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Like Choir! Choir! Choir!, she has been crowdsourcing art in isolation, most recently a hastily assembled tribute to the classic 60s social line dance, The Madison. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Free Online Drawing Lessons for Kids, Led by Favorite Artists & Illustrators

When I became the Kennedy Center Education Artist-in-Residence, I didn’t realize the most impactful word in that title would be "Residence." —illustrator Mo Willems

Even as schools regroup and online instruction gathers steam, the scramble continues to keep cooped-up kids engaged and happy.

These COVID-19-prompted online drawing lessons and activities might not hold much appeal for the single-minded sports nut or the junior Feynman who scoffs at the transformative properties of art, but for the art-y kid, or fans of certain children’s illustrators, these are an excellent diversion.

Mo Willems, author of Knuffle Bunny and the Kennedy Center’s first Education Artist-in-Residence, is opening his home studio every weekday at 1pm EST for approximately twenty minutes worth of LUNCHDOODLES. Episode 5, finds him using a fat marker to doodle a Candyland-ish game board (sans treacle).




Once the design is complete, he rolls the dice to advance both his piece and that of his home viewer. A 5 lands him on the crowd-pleasing directive “fart.” Clearly the online instructor enjoys certain liberties the classroom teacher would be ill-advised to attempt.

Check out the full playlist on the Kennedy Center’s YouTube channel and download activity pages for each episode here.

#MoLunchDoodles

If the daily LUNCHDOODLES leaves ‘em wanting more, there’s just enough time for a quick pee and snack break before Lunch Lady’s Jarrett J. Krosoczka takes over with Draw Everyday with JJK, a basic illustration lesson every weekday at 2pm EST. These are a bit more nitty gritty, as JJK, the kid who loved to draw and grew up to be an artist, shares practical tips on penciling, inking, and drawing faces. Pro tip: resistant Star Wars fans will likely be hooked by the first episode’s Yoda, a character Krosoczka is well versed in as the author and illustrator of the Star Wars Jedi Academy series.

Find the complete playlist here.

Illustrator Carson Ellis eschews video lessons to host a Quarantine Art Club on her Instagram page. Her most recent assignment is cartography based challenge, with helpful tips for creating an “impactful page turn” for those who wish to share their creations on Instagram:

DRAW A MAP: When we think of treasure maps, we think of sea monsters, islands with palm trees, pirate ships, anthropomorphic clouds blowing gales upon white-capped seas. YOUR map can be of anywhere: an enchanted wood, a dystopian suburb, your backyard, your apartment that has never felt so small, all of the above, none of the above. Or your map can be a traditional treasure map leading to a pirate’s hoard. It’s totally up to you. Three things that you MUST include are: a compass rose (very important—look this up if you don’t know what it is), the name of the place you are mapping, and a red X.

DRAW THE TREASURE: The first part of this assignment is to draw a map with a red X to mark the location of hidden treasure. The second part of this assignment is to draw the treasure. I don’t know what the treasure is. Only you know what the treasure is. Draw it on a separate piece of paper from the map.

BONUS POINTS: If you’re going to post this on instagram, I recommend formatting it with two images. Post the map first, then the treasure which the viewer will swipe to see. This will create what we in the kids book world call AN IMPACTFUL PAGE TURN. That’s the thing that happens when you’re reading a picture book and you turn the page to discover something funny or surprising. It’s kind of hard to explain, but you know a good page turn when you’ve experienced one.

#QuarantineArtClub

Wendy McNaughton, who specializes in drawn journalism, also likes the Instagram platform, hosting a live Draw Together session every school day, from 10-10.30 am PST. Her approach is a bit more freeform, with impromptu dance parties, special guests, and field trips to the backyard.

Her How to Watch Draw Together highlight is a hilarious crash course in Instagram Live, scrawled in magic marker by someone who’s possibly only now just getting a grip on the platform. Don’t see it? Maybe it’s the weekend, or “maybe ask a millennial for help?”

#DrawTogether

And bless E.B. Goodale, an illustrator, first time author and mother of a young son, who having counteracted the heartbreak of a cancelled book tour with a hastily launched week of daily Instagram Live Toddler Drawing Club meetings, made the decision to scale back to just Tuesdays and Thursdays:

It was fun doing it everyday but turned out to be a bit too much to handle given our family’s new schedule. We’re all figuring it out, right? I hope you will continue to join me in our unchartered territory next week as we draw to stay sane. Tune in live to make requests or watch it later and follow along at home.

(Her How to Draw a Cat tutorial, above, was likely intended for in-person bookstore events relating to her just published Under the Lilacs…)

#drawingwithtoddlers

Our personal favorite is Stickies Art School, whose online children’s classes are led not by multi-disciplinary artist Nina Katchadourian, whose Facebook page serves as the online institution's home, but rather her senior tuxedo cat, Stickies.

Stickies, who comes to the gig with an impressive command of English, honed no doubt by frequent appearances on Katchadourian’s Instagram page, affects a diffident air to dole out assignments, the latest of which is above.

He allows his students ample time to complete their tasksthus far all portraits of himself. The next one, to render Stickies in a costume of the artist’s choice, is due Wednesday by 9am, Berlin time.

Stickies also offers positive feedback on submitted work in delightful follow up videos, a responsibility that Katchadourian takes seriously:

There have been so many conversations at NYU Gallatin where I'm on the faculty about online teaching, how to do it, how to think of a studio course in this new form, etc, and I think perhaps that crossed over with the desire to cheer up some people with kids, many of whom are already Stickies fans, or so I have been told. 

His child proteges are no doubt unaware that Stickies looked ready to leave the planet several weeks ago, a fact whose import will resonate with many pet owners in these dark days:

Maybe a third element was just being so glad he is still around, that having him actively "out there" feels good and life-affirming at the moment.

Stickies Art School is marvelous fun for adults to audit from afar, via Katchadourian’s public Facebook posts. If you are a parent whose child would like to participate, send her a friend request and mention that you’re doing so on behalf of your child artist.

Searching on the hashtag #artteachersofinstagram will yield many more resources.

Art of Education University has singled out 12 accounts to get you started, as well as lots of helpful information for classroom art teachers who are figuring out how to teach effectively online.

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine. Given the cancellation of everything, she’s taken to Instagram to document her social distance strolls through New York City’s Central Park, using the hashtag #queenoftheapeswalk  Follow her @AyunHalliday.

A Medical Student Creates Intricate Anatomical Embroideries of the Brain, Heart, Lungs & More

My first thought upon seeing the delicate, anatomy-based work of the 23-year-old embroidery artist and medical student Emmi Khan was that the Girl Scouts must have expanded the categories of skills eligible for merit badges.

(If memory serves, there was one for embroidery, but it certainly didn’t look like a cross-sectioned brain, or a sinus cavity.)

Closer inspection revealed that the circular views of Khan’s embroideries are not quite as tiny as the round badges stitched to high achieving Girl Scouts’ sashes, but rather still framed in the wooden hoops that are an essential tool of this artist’s trade.

Methods both scientific and artistic are a source of fascination for Khan, who began taking needlework inspiration from anatomy as an undergrad studying biomedical sciences. As she writes on her Moleculart website:

Science has particular methods: it is fundamentally objective, controlled, empirical. Similarly, art has particular methods: there is an emphasis on subjectivity and exploration, but there is also an element of regulation regarding how art is created... e.g. what type of needle to use to embroider or how to prime a canvas.

The procedures and techniques adopted by scientists and artists may be very different. Ultimately, however, they both have a common aim. Artists and scientists both want to 1) make sense of the vastness around them in new ways, and 2) present and communicate it to others through their own vision. 

A glimpse at the flowers, intricate stitches, and other dainties that populate her Pinterest boards offers a further peek into Khan’s methods, and might prompt some readers to pick up a needle themselves, even those with no immediate plans to embroider a karyotype or The Circle of Willis, the circular anastomosis of arteries at the base of the brain.

The Cardiff-based medical student delights in embellishing her threaded observations of internal organs with the occasional decorative element—sunflowers, posies, and the like…

She makes herself available on social media to answer questions on subjects ranging from embroidery tips to her relationship to science as a devout Muslim, and to share works in progress, like a set of lungs that embody the Four Seasons, commissioned by a customer in the States.

To see more of Emmi Khan’s work, including a downloadable anatomical floral heart embroidery pattern, visit Molecularther Instagram page, or her Etsy shop.

via Colossal

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Join her in NYC on Monday, February 3 when her monthly book-based variety show, Necromancers of the Public Domain celebrates New York: The Nation’s Metropolis (1921). Follow her @AyunHalliday.

A Visual Introduction to Kintsugi, the Japanese Art of Repairing Broken Pottery and Finding Beauty in Imperfection

Kintsugi, the Japanese art of joining broken pottery with gleaming seams of gold or silver, creates fine art objects we can see as symbols for the beauty of vulnerability. Surely, these bowls, cups, vases, etc. remind of us Leonard Cohen’s oft-quoted lyric from “Anthem” (“There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”) Writer and artist Austin Kleon touches on this same sentiment in a recent post on his blog. “The thing I love the most about Kintsugi is the visible trace of healing and repair—the idea of highlighted, glowing scars.”

Kintsugi, which translates to “golden joinery,” has a history that dates back to the 15th century, as Colin Marshall explained in a previous post here. But it’s fascinating how much this art resonates with our contemporary discourse around trauma and healing.




“We all grow up believing we should emphasize the inherent positives about ourselves,” writes Marshall, “but what if we also emphasized the negatives, the parts we’ve had to work to fix or improve? If we did it just right, would the negatives still look so negative after all?”

A key idea here is “doing it just right.” Kintsugi is not a warts-and-all presentation, but a means of turning brokenness into art, a skillful realization of the Japanese idea of wabi-sabi, the “beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete,” as Leonard Koren writes in Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers. Objects that represent wabi-sabi “may exhibit the effects of accident, like a broken bowl glued back together again.” In kintsugi, those effects are due to the artist’s craft rather than random chance.

When it comes to healing psychic wounds so that they shine like precious metals, there seems to be no one perfect method. But when we’re talking about the artistry of kintsugi, there are some—from the most refined artisanship to less rigorous do-it-yourself techniques—we can all adopt with some success. In the video at the top, learn DIY kintsugi from World Crafted’s Robert Mahar. Further up, we have an intensive, wordless demonstration from professional kintsugi artist Kyoko Ohwaki.

And just above, see psychologist Alexa Altman travel to Japan to learn kintsugi, then make it “accessible” with an explanation of both the physical process of kintsugi and its metaphorical dimensions. As Altman shows, kintsugi can just as well be made from things broken on purpose as by accident. When it comes to the beautifully flawed finished product, however, perhaps how a thing was broken matters far less than the amount of care and skill we use to join it back together.

Related Content:

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Watch The Insects’ Christmas from 1913: A Stop Motion Film Starring a Cast of Dead Bugs

Kind Reader,

Will you do us the honor of accepting our holiday invitation?

Carve five minutes from your holiday schedule to spend time celebrating The Insects' Christmas, above.

In addition to offering brief respite from the chaos of consumerism and modern expectations, this simple stop-motion tale from 1913 is surprisingly effective at chasing away holiday blues.

Not bad for a short with a supporting cast of dead bugs.




Animator Ladislas Starevich began his cinematic manipulations of insect carcasses early in the 20th century while serving as Director of Kaunas, Lithuania’s Museum of Natural History. He continued the experiment after moving to Moscow, where he added such titles as Insects' Aviation Week, Amusing Scenes from the Life of Insects and famously, The Cameraman’s Revenge, a racy tale of passion and infidelity in the insect world.

The Insects' Christmas is far gentler.

Think Froggy Went a Courtin’, or Miss Spider’s Wedding with an old time Christmas spin

Shades too of Johnny Gruelle’s Raggedy Ann and other stories wherein toys wait for their human owners to retire, so they may spring to life—though Starewizc’s sleepy doll seems to have more in common with the Christmas tree's absent owners than the tiny Father Christmas ornament who clamors down to party al fresco with the insects.

Contemporary composer Tom Peters underscores the wholesome vintage action—skiing, skating, squabbling over a Christmas cracker—with a mix of traditional carols and original music performed on ukulele, drum, and a six-string electric bass with a 5-octave range.

And the moment when Father Christmas conjures festive decorations for a Charlie Brown-ish tree is truly magical. See if your littlest Hayao Miyazaki fan doesn't agree.

Enjoy more of Ladislas Starevich’s stopmotion ouevre on YouTube, as well some of Tom Peters’ other scores for silent films.

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Join her in NYC on Monday, January 6 when her monthly book-based variety show, Necromancers of the Public Domain celebrates Cape-Coddities (1920) by Roger Livingston Scaife. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

20+ Knitters and Crochet Artists Stitch an Astonishing 3-D Recreation of Picasso’s Guernica

Softness is perhaps not the first quality that springs to mind when one imagines recreating the chaos and anguish of Picasso’s Guernica in a 3-dimensional representation.

Though how else to describe the primary medium of the urban knitting group Sul filo dell’arte?

More than 20 fiber artists worked for over a year, meticulously crocheting embroidering and knitting the most familiar elements of the painting as stand-alone figures, to mark the eightieth anniversary of the bombing of the small Spanish town depicted in the 1937 masterpiece.

Students from the State Art School of the Royal Villa of Monza contributed the frameworks over which the fiber pieces were stretched.

The result, Guernica 3D, was later displayed as part of Metamorphosis, a Picasso-themed exhibition at the Royal Palace in Milan.

A look at Sul filo dell’arte’s Instagram page reveals that Picasso is not the only artist to inspire their needles. Frida KahloMagritteKeith HaringAndy Warhol, and Vincent Van Gogh are among those to whom they have paid painstaking woolen tribute.

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Behold an Anatomically Correct Replica of the Human Brain, Knitted by a Psychiatrist

Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Join her in NYC on Monday, January 6 when her monthly book-based variety show, Necromancers of the Public Domain celebrates Cape-Coddities (1920) by Roger Livingston Scaife. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

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