Dilettante

Google Art Project is the thing to do with the internet. It’s like when crackers were invented and the already-existing wonder of cheese was applied to them. You can’t imagine the internet not hosting art any more than you can imagine crackers not hosting cheese.

But you know when you slice a too-big hunk of cheese and you try to shave it down so it will fit onto two crackers? And you know how that doesn’t work? What you have then is a delivery problem. The delivery of the cheese to your mouth via cracker is faulty due to over-then-under-cheesing the cracker.

Google Art Project has a delivery problem.

The gorgeous, hi-res images are neatly organized by museum, artist, or easily assembled user galleries. However, one of the simplest pleasures of actually being in a museum that this project totally fails at is browsing. Browsing on Google Art Project sucks. Right-clicking and opening an image or a museum’s page in another tab or window is strictly prohibited. After entering a museum’s page, you can’t click ‘back’ to return to where you left off on the list.

Still.

This is a wonderful resource and, as I said, the correct use of the internet. The browsing/navigation thing needs to be fixed.

Anyway, a friend of mine has been using it for daily writing exercises. He says it’s especially helpful in developing a skill for building spaces. “Okay,” I said. And now I’m practicing it myself. It should be pretty boring, reading my descriptions of paintings and sculptures. I’m only doing it publicly for the pressure to maintain a schedule of practice.

Given my dislike of the navigation function, I will start with a museum at the end of the list, so the scrolling will get easier as I go along.

Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA

Dilettante by Vladimir Makovsky

(The irony of the painting’s title is not wasted on me.)

Had to lean the easel against this bush so it would stand upright. The ground is covered with clumps of grass and dried earth. The jacket around my elbow keeps getting caught in the prickly arms of the bush. I jerked it free and marked up the canvas where I didn’t mean to. Just go with it. Make it work.

I can’t move the canvas after I finally got it to stand. But the rising sun is in my eyes. I’d sooner snap that damn umbrella (again) than try to prop it up between my eyes and the sun.

Monet never has to endure the shouts of neighborhood boys. “Get a job,” etc. I could even tolerate their insults if they didn’t wake my wife with their shouts. She knows I don’t work, but she doesn’t know I spent half of my last pay on an easel, paints, and canvas.

“I’ll paint a lovely portrait of you, my dear. It will be easy, for you are so lovely yourself.” That won’t work. I’ll sneak off for a drink before she comes out.

No. No breaks until I’ve finished my masterpiece. There’s money in this, they say. Well, the man I drank with last night said there was. I bought him a drink, gave him half my wages (I’m not a fool; I told him it was my whole wages), and he gave me the paints and easel and canvas.

Now, to make a go of it before she starts shouting.

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