Sunday, April 07, 2013

How I plug the time sink of internet browsing with Pinterest, but am not destined to be a Tumblr girl*; still life and more bread.

Well, despite pledges to blog lighter and more often, another ten days has gone by and I've not done so.  In fact this isn't down to a lack of material; I keep finding things to blog about and not being able to choose between them so I leave it a bit longer, then more bits and pieces accumulate, and I can't get around to stitching them together...

Another reason I have been neglecting things here is that, despite (another despite) my eschewing of online crazes and social media other than good old fashioned blogging, and my profession of ignorance on such matters, I have acquired a consuming Pinterest habit.  (Is Pinterest social media?  It doesn't quite strike me as such, but I'm not sure).  I decided I'd try it, and also Tumblr, again and see if I couldn't make some use of them.

Tumblr I still can't really get a handle on, partly because its use as a way of collating and re-blogging content already on the web seems to be hampered by the fact that you can only post one image at a time using URLs, and downloading and uploading again just seems too laborious (but perhaps I'm missing something), and I no longer generate enough photographic content of my own to supply a new photo blog, so I think my efforts there are largely dead in the water.

But Pinterest I do like, though how long my current preoccupation with it will last I don't know.  I won't go into the details of how it works, since you presumably either know already (I'm always late to the party with these things), or you can find out from the link, or you aren't interested anyway.  I like that the pinned images link back to their original source, though of course the accreditation is only as genuine as the site they come from, and there is grousing about copyright infringement, but at least there's an attempt at traceability.  And it seems to offer the possibility of making something a bit more constructive and selective of the time sink that can be web browsing, though of course it also prompts one to do even more of the same. I've tidied up quite a lot of the stray, out-of-sight-out-of-mind bookmarks I've accumulated, and a visual note in the form of an image is a much better reminder than a textual one.  I'm also enjoying fantasy travel making collections of places I'd like to go and things I'd like to see.  I like the aesthetic of it and find it quite accessible and easy to use, and though my involvement and collections are still fairly limited, I've taken the step of adding a button to the sidebar here (even though it's red and I don't much care for red on my blog), and from time to time I might bring stuff here from there, as well as vice-versa.

So, following the 'Attributes of Music' still life by Anne Vallayer Coster I found and posted here the other day, I decided to set up a still life board.  I find myself particularly drawn to still life involving food, and after the bread-based subject matter of the last post, I've been looking especially, though not exclusively, to paintings with bread in.

This is another Anne Vallayer-Coster. I like that it's not really still, because there's steam rising up out of the tureen.  This capture of dynamic change of states, liquid to vapour, shows a kind of scientific interest in processes shown elsewhere in her work, and also rather subverts the stilless aspect of still life.  Though of course everything organic in any still life is really caught at a point of mutation, the bread grows stale, the fruit rots.  I wonder what kind of soup it is?  The picture reminds me a little of the wonderful Babette's Feast which I had the good fortune to have placed in my hands lately, not having seen it before. (The link isn't to Wiki or IMDb but to a rather long and interesting essay from a book which I'd quite like to read, although it contains some points with which I'd disagree and some inaccuracies). I had qualms about the poor turtle, but even perhaps that had to be, in keeping with the themes of outlandishness, violence, sacrifice and death which underlie the story.  But I don't think it's turtle soup in this tureen, the bread is too rustic.

Anne Vallayer-Coster had an interesting history, a rare woman among men in 18th century painting circles and well-regarded, and although a protégée and sometime friend of Marie Antoinette, she managed not to finish with her head on a pike and the rest of her god knows where and survived the Revolution. However, despite being somewhat taken up by the Empress Josephine and later by the restored monarchy, her career was never quite the same again.  But survive she did, and produced a consistent body of work over quite a long life.  She did good bread:

and other things too, such as musical instruments and coral, always in that assertive, accurate, boldly lit style, characteristic of the Enlightenment, which apparently Foucault considered to be an 'encompassing stare and classification of appearances [which] stood for repressive control'.  (I only know this from the Wiki article, I don't know anything about Foucault really, either the one with the pendulum or the one without).

Another still life painter who did some good bread was Luis Egidio Meléndez.

He too was somewhat unlucky in his career, should have prospered more and had better patronage, but both he and his father picked quarrels with the wrong people, he died indigent.  The unusual thing about his paintings, compared with those of 17th century still life painters like Zurbaran, is the low viewpoint, and the grouping and lighting, which produces a sense of immediacy and involvement, and again that Enlightment thing about seizing and understanding.  Most of his work is still in Spain, in the Prado in Madrid.

Just one more that I love, this one from an unknown 18th century Italian artist:

much more naïve and less realistic, it almost could have been painted on a biscuit tin, but I like it because it contains an element which, like Anne V-C's steam in the first painting, would in fact have been rapid and fugitive,not still at all: the blue tit perching on the glassy grapes and eyeing up those big chunks of white fat in the salami.  Reminds me of how they used to peck through the foil milk bottle tops to get to the cream on the gold top milk.  I suppose that doesn't happen any more?


In the light of my opening paragraph, about the accumulation of non-posting, it seems to me that this is why posting every day in November usually works quite well and is enjoyable, because it means I do smaller but better formed posts, instead of baggy monsters full of odds and sods and inconsequential meanderings.

So, I think I may try to put up a shorter post every day for a few days.  This should also help me to catch up with myself on my bid to accomplish a thousand posts by my seventh blogging anniversary.  So see you tomorrow!

*A Tumblr girl, your honour, to summarise several definitions from the Urban Dictionary, somewhere I really shouldn't spend too much time, is a pretty but narcissistic young creature, usually but not exclusively female (I think Tumblr boys exist too, or boys who are called Tumblr girls), who is rather over-fond of taking pictures of herself and posting them on her Tumblr blog.  They are 'hipsters' (a word which seems to be current again) and tend to be rather earnest and 'sensitive', and they prefer Tumblr to Facebook.  I think I've visited some of their blogs, they're actually rather nice. 


Unknown said...

Do you know the still lives of Juan Sanchez Cotan? If you don't, they are worth googling for a start. He was I think a monk who only painted still lives and invariably on the same shelf or window sill.

Jean said...

I expect Lucy does know Cotan, but if she, or anybody else with a taste for still lifes, doesn't - you must google him right this minute! Those paintings of fruit and vegetables suspended from strings to form a perfect curve are just among my most joyous aesthetic experiences ever!:-)

Julia said...

I read that as 'he died indignant' which is, actually, how I plan to die, indignant and outraged.


Roderick Robinson said...

Why, I asked myself, would someone who's proved themselves more than competent at blogging and has accumulated an adoring following wander off into the cyber-hinterland and start breaking off the heads of more and more exotic growths, offering no more substantial reason than... what? "I decided I'd try (them)... and see if I couldn't make some use of them." An ostensible reason if ever there was one.

The first logical step for me - as questioner - would be to use the links and find out just how tempting Tumblr and Pinterest appear. But that would be to betray a personal tradition that runs all the way back to 2008 of not reading the instruction manual, etc. I prefer to come in by the back door or, if such is available, by an underground tunnel. And something tells me there is an underground tunnel here.

So much so that I'm able to mount an investigative campaign based on a rarely invoked principle - honesty! Starting with my base-camp slogan: Why would I have to be dragged screaming and foaming at the mouth to arrive at the home pages of these two systems? And the answer to that is simple: failing memory. I have the capacity (make that incapacity) to misplace the small mechanisms of Blogger as I use it. Two more systems would merely augment this tendency towards oblivion.

But it wasn't always so. I remind myself that, from sedulous study of Box Elder, I discovered I was old enough to be Lucy's father. By applying marital laws extant in, I think, Tennessee I might even qualify as her grandfather, although under those circumstances I'd be wise to stay in the backwoods and tend my illegal still rather than flaunt myself in the blogworld. Clearly we are living in two different worlds and thus the answer to my initial question.

If one has the reflective ability one gathers up obscure cyber-opportunities as proof that one can operate them. If one lacks this ability one goes in for interminable comments because if at any moment one forgets where one is one can make up the remainder.

Avus said...

I had similar thoughts to RR - but, as usual, he expresses them better than I, in a more erudite and entertaining way

Ellena said...

Similar to RR except that I could be your grandmother.
I tasted all these breads. Bring on some more please.

Francesca said...

What delicious images! I really love the shiny figs.

I haven't really explored pinterest yet, but have become completely hooked on Instagram, which contains galleries of people's photos, mostly taken on their mobile phones. A fascinating glimpse into the lives and surroundings of people all over the world. Oh dear - what a distraction!

Marly Youmans said...

Enjoyed the still-but-kinetic paintings with steam and bird (clever) and comments, Lucy! And just added some of your work to my Pinterest page--come find me! I started some boards for my more recent books as a way to show off their art work and suggest some ways of looking at them and have noodled on from there...

Lucy said...

Thanks all, what a nice response so quickly!

Joe and Jean - I didn't really know about him, though I do remember some of his paintings now - I had them somewhat confused with Zurbaran who was also a religious and also painted a cabbage on a string! But I've redressed that and there's now a reasonable selection of his on the pinboard too. Wonderful stuff, like a theatre of objects.

Julia - your words are strangely liberating. I suppose I've rather held the idea that one should achieve some state of serenity or at least resignation by the end, and I now realise I have been subconsciously worrying that this seems increasingly unlikely to happen. But why should it? Hell, I'm going to die right pissed off too!

RR, and Avus - I do in fact reject most cyber-novelty with varying levels of suck-it-and-see, often not a lot. I abhor Facebook and have little interest in Twitter, though I sometimes look up threads about TV programmes I'm watching but I don't join. But it's sometimes good to have a new project. When I am confronted with anyone using age as a pretext for non-participation in technical progress, I often cite our mutual friend above, who may be seen happily adding tweeting, Facebook, Balckberries and I-pads, with many of their sundry apps and devices to his extensive techno-repertoire, beside whom I feel myself decidedly incurious and stuck-in-the-mud. You yourself have chivvied me about wilful ignorance of MP3 tech, my much younger niece was still using a cassette Walkman when many of her parents' generation were gleefully embracing i-pods. I really think it's less a question of age than character and where one's interests lie.

I felt tempted for a time to have a black background picture-only blog, since that sets off images much better but is not good for any quantity of text, and thought some of the Tumblr templates, and the general low-verbiage ethos there might be suitable, but it didn't take. People do some good stuff there though, and anything that tends towards a counter-culture to the prevailing FB hegemony is good by me.

Ellena - glad you liked it. I kind of feel Meléndez' bread might be a bit hard and unpalatable, as most bread historically has been, but it's still fascinatingly rendered.

Francesca - I haven't really caught on to Instagram, I suppose because I don't have a smartphone it hasn't quite impinged fully on my consciousness! I can see it might be beguiling, best leave well alone I think...

Marly - ooh, that's great, thank you! I've already spent rather too long browsing your boards there, seeing some old friends and new lovelies. Well done you, I don't know how you find the time.

Marly Youmans said...

Me either! Online is dangerous!

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Beautiful post and not-so-still lives. Now I feel a bread-painting coming on.

And oh! I wish you hadn't mentioned Pinterest because I've just looked it up and it seems just the sort of distraction I don't need but will get addicted to very quickly, providing one more 'displacement' activity.