Saturday, August 23, 2008

August 21st

Corneille de la Haye, 
French, artist active 1534-1574

Portrait of a Merchant, c. 1530
artisit Jan Gossaert, Netherlandish 1478-1532

I went with Keith to the National Gallery of Art for Lunch. We had a great meal and a delicious desert. Strawberry short cake as seen above. Something about the mix of the red strawberry sweet & tart, rich whipped cream, mixed with yellow sponge cake is so good this time of year. We played with our cameras all around the gallery and looked at books and enjoyed the water fountains and a few rooms of masters artworks. I discovered a small work of art in the Dutch wing who's subject was insects and I had to document that for comparison with my bug pictures posted here recently. I am not the only artist interested in bugs! I think this artist Jan van Kessel had to use pin down techniques to capture his insects. Later I found a theme in my photos on my birthday at the National Gallery of water and details. This began with my favorite fountain in the central rotunda. The sculpture of Mercury who was the messenger of the gods and represents the arts is posed so deftly on the ball of his foot, above the smooth sound of water falling over the edges of his big marble bowl. It is very relaxing to sit in that round room listening to the water fall as people pass. Other pictures of water and light reflecting were outside in huge pink stone bowls of falling water under the sun mixed with shade from Oak trees. The portrait of a young man caught my eye years ago and became a favorite painting. This picture is only about a foot tall in that architecturally detailed frame it is a very intimate view that to me, speaks about love of youthful innocence. I wish I could get a better photograph of the young man's portrait, but the NGA's website has a good close up if you follow the link. Artworks on the wall with highly varnished surfaces are very difficult to photograph. I don't use flash because it only reflects back off the mirror like surfaces of the paintings' varnish. I believe flash also harms pigments in paintings, so it is annoying to see others use flash.  Another painting I like is a Netherlandish portrait of a merchant and in that picture all the details are amazing. I shot the hands but again on the NGA website they have better pictures you can see it all in very fine detail. Keith let me go where and do what I wanted on my birthday with the proviso that we needed to drop by the farmer's  market at Penn. Quarter just a couple blocks from NGA at 8th and D Sts., NW so he could buy more locally grown flowers for his ikebana arrangements blog. I was delighted to go there and find more fun things to photograph. We brought home a nice batch of flowers including richly perfumed tuber roses and a type of bright green pod on a milkweed related plant that is new in floral arrangements. On   Keith's blog, where he posts his ikebana arrangements you can see them in the first photo, today. Look for one tall sunflower and the fuzzy green pods below. Thanks to Keith and everyone who sent birthday wishes, gifts and to all my friends and family for a happy day. Back at home I watched an engaging costume historical Merchant Ivory film on cable after our trip to the gallery called The White Countess  while Keith was in ikebana class. If you like Merchant Ivory movies this was their last one before Ivory died.  When Keith got home from his class we topped the day off with a cold salmon dinner, more cake and gifts. August 21st, 2008 was a delightful 53rd birthday. 

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