Wednesday, July 2, 2014

pouring milk day after day

We've watched some interesting movies lately. The Grand Budapest Hotel (Pleasant and silly). Cool Hand Luke (Okay, now I get the whole Paul Newman thing. This was on PBS one night, no commercials. We started out saying we'd watch 10 minutes just to get the feel of it, and ended up watching the whole thing). Salinger. (The review I've linked to isn't a resounding love fest that's for sure. But the film did have me considering Salinger in a new light. I guess I'm one of those strange people who've paid attention to his books and not his bio).

Lastly, Rob and I watched Tim's Vermeer. We both thoroughly enjoyed it, and Rob especially. Tim Jenison makes the film because he wants to prove that Vermeer might have used a certain type of optics as a tool in painting his works. I think that part is pretty convincing, and pretty cool. He goes to extreme lengths - recreates the room in which Vermeer painted, makes furniture, etc. And then he himself paints. And paints. And paints. The thing is, he's not a painter. He's an inventor. But he paints a pretty impressive rendition of Vermeer's Music Lesson.

Not everyone is so enthused by what Jenison has done. His painting does lack any of Vermeer's magic, and the film doesn't really talk about that missing ingredient. But what it does, aside from making a good case about the optical device, is to show how very difficult painting is. And even if you can master the technicalities of painting, there's still the incredibly gruelling nature of the work. Beyond that, of course, is the ability to turn all of this into art.

So for me, it's a wonderfully cool experiment. I don't think he's claiming that his painting is 'art' per se. I suppose without addressing the subject, the movie does also prove that Vermeer had that 'mystical genius' the reviewer in the Guardian article talked about, and that well, Tim Jenison does not. The viewer is going to look at this whole process and be impressed with the quality of the end product, with the lengths Jenison's gone to to make this rendition. Watching Tim's process left me even more in awe of Vermeer. Thinking of what Vermeer would have done and gone through to make his paintings, and beyond that, how he infused them with life and magic and light.

So, thinking about the movie, and about Vermeer, I ended up getting Chloe to pose for me, pouring milk. Not sure why, it just seemed like a thing to do.

I love the painting, The Milkmaid, which we saw when we were in Amsterdam several years ago. I love that I told Chloe what I wanted to do and she totally got it right away, and away we went. Now to convince her to wear a red hat....


by Wislawa Szymborska

So long as that woman from the Rijksmuseum
in painted quiet and concentration
keeps pouring milk day after day
from the pitcher to the bowl
the World hasn’t earned
the world’s end.

- translated from the Polish by Clare Cavanagh and Stanislaw Baranczak

Meanwhile. The stone bowl. Which, if you've followed this blog for a long time, you've seen many times, filled with many different things.

Today: empty. It's one of these profound objects to me, this bowl. Which is easier maybe to show in photographs than it is to say. And maybe it says something to about how it is to live with an object through time - it's been with us for twenty years or so.

Lastly, I wanted to show you the prints of my photographs that arrived recently from Crated. Maybe it's strange to say, but I think this image is the closest thing to art I've made. I really love it. Rob also loves it.

Crated did a fantastic job - the framing, wiring, detail and quality of the printing - top notch. Very impressed with them. I felt I wanted to see what they looked like before doing the hard sell, haha.

A photograph of a photograph is perhaps not the ideal thing. But you can look at my images on Crated here.


  1. I love this, Shawna. Beautiful work on the photos. And, of course, beautiful work on the child.

  2. I've fallen behind on so much! I feel a little sad to have missed these posts (mostly for myself because they so often lift me up and open my eyes to new sights). Well! Cool Hand Luke...oh boy, We are pretty big Paul Newman fans in this house. Of course these days I can hardly remember any names, so... have you seen the one about the pool player?(!) There's a certain brutally in it that I haven't forgotten that was very moving (and brutality isn't something that typically does that for me). Of course there's the Vermeer and your own staging of it, I think Chloe fits the part perfectly. How wonderful that she knew just what to do.The stone bowl and your Crate photos, too, so lovely!


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