The Man with the Pearl Earring

Tuesday, 4th January 2005
Wild West Yorkshire nature diary

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My copy of a Rembrandt self portrait detail

'It is an indication of how little we know about Rembrandt's life that we have no idea what happened to him in the late 1640s to change his attitude from self-satisfaction to anxious self-questioning.'

In An Introduction to Rembrandt Kenneth Clark sees this portrait as marking the transition. Wouldn't life in general be sufficient reason?

I've been through a similar journey as an artist but in my case I seemed to miss out on the self-satisfaction stage altogether. Anyway, to me the expression in self-portraits such as this is very similar to the look that comes over your face when you're lost in relaxed concentration on what you're drawing. It would be impossible to keep up a smile for so long. Artists probably aren't the sullen bunch that you might guess them to be from their candid self-portraits.

I'm returning to Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain after the Christmas break with this pencil copy of the oil painting (which hangs in the National Gallery in Washington). It's one of the exercises that Betty Edwards suggests to help her students become more confident at tackling portraits.

The Worst of All Possible Worlds

Alien moonAfter the rush to get two Sushi Sketchbooks into print before Christmas, I'm happy to ease myself gently into the new year and, after updating two book websites with my new titles, I read another Bryce tutorial at lunchtime. This one, by John Kennedy for Bryce 2, is from way back; from a PC Format dated November 1998. Landscapes like this are easy in Bryce; once you've found your way around the program you can create them with a few clicks of the mouse.

I like the way this has ended up looking like a plastic model kit sitting on one of the papier mâché dioramas that I liked to construct as schoolboy. All it needs now are some threads of black cotton to hold those unlikely looking moons in place.

My Mum gave me a copy of Grumpy Old Men for Christmas but with me you really get the worst of all possible worlds: grumpy? yes; grey, OK, I admit it, but still with the wayward enthusiasm for over ambitious model-making projects that a 13 year old schoolboy might have. Well they did in my day, but these days you're more likely to see them hanging around the shopping mall, texting each other on their mobile phones (did you notice the effortless gear change into Grumpy Old Man mode there?).

Poor Barbara. Next Page

Richard Bell,

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