Common Cause uses comics infographic to explain Verizon's latest attempt to undermine Net Neutrality

Common Cause uses comics info graphic to explain Verizon's attempt to undermine Net Neutrality
Common Cause is using a long, scrolling, comics style infographic to explain the latest attempt by Verizon to undermine the principle of Net Neutrality.

Called Big Deal, Big Money, the graphic was co-produced with Symbolia, and illustration credit is given as “S. Caldwell” (for whom I haven’t been able to turn up a first name or website yet).

Just in case there is any confusion (and there probably is, because the telcos and other big business interests have done their best to deliberately confuse you on this issue by using bogus terms like “Internet Freedom” to mask their power grab), I’ll state unequivocally that Net Neutrality is a Good Thing (capital “G”, capital “T”), and if big content and the telecommunications companies succeed in undermining it, much of the internet as you know it, including things like Lines and Colors, will gradually disappear.

No, I’m not being unduly alarmist, and yes, I understand that the technical issues are not straightforward — but the basic principle is.

Net Neutrality means that the companies responsible for transmitting data across the internet must treat all information equally.

What Verizon and other telcos want is to allow big business to pay for their data streams to be given preference over those from sources who can’t pay as much, like yours or mine. The end result is that smaller sites will eventually become much slower and harder to access than big ones, and will gradually become marginalized — so gradually that it will be hard to notice until its too late.

The end goal is that Big Content will essentially be able to co-opt the internet and turn it into another channel of information and entertainment that they control, like television and radio.

(Think I’m exaggerating? Look up the history of radio broadcasting and how bandwidth once available to the public was given away by congress to big business in return for overt bribery, and the public was eventually banned from broadcasting radio in regular broadcast bands. Why would you think they wouldn’t try the same thing with the internet?)

Yes, there are issues in which some kinds of internet data may have to be transmitted differently as a practical technical issue (which is where it gets complicated) but that’s not what this is about. This is about the internet equivalent of driving down a highway and having to pull over to let rich people go ahead of you because they can pay more to use the highway.

But I digress, and I’m rambling on, which is where comics do a better job of explaining…

[Via BoingBoing]


Nelson Shanks' Four Justices

Nelson Shanks portrait of women Supreme Court justices: Four Justices
Noted portrait painter Nelson Shanks, who I have written about previously, has recently completed a life size group portrait of four female justices of the U.S. Supreme Court.

The painting, which is titled Four Justices (no, not The Supremes — grin) will hang in the National Portrait Gallery in D.C. for three years before going to the collection of the collectors who commissioned the work.


Meindert Hobbema

Meindert Hobbema
Dutch landscape painter Meindert Hobbema was a student and apprentice of Jacob van Ruisdael, and initially painted very much in the style of the older master.

There are few records and not much written about Hobbema. He apparently was not very successful in his own time. Records indicate that he worked as a wine gauger for the city of Amsterdam for over forty years, though he continued to produce many paintings.

For a time after his death, Hobbema fell into almost complete obscurity. Many of his paintings in the early style of Van Ruisdael were passed off as Van Ruisdael’s by dealers. His work came into favor in the subsequent 18th and 19th centuries, and was influential on a number of other landscape artists. This 1894 article from Century Magazine by engraver Timothy Cole, makes clear that the shift in valuation of his work was dramatic when it happened.

Hobbema was remarkably productive, given his full time job and the sometimes astonishing level of detail in his work. I can only imagine that he must have worked in a zen-like state for hours on end while of painting the leaves on his intricately detailed trees and shrubs. His paintings were reasonably large, but not dramatically so — usually about 40×60″ (100x145cm).

The detail is such that viewing images of his paintings as small reproductions doesn’t tell you much. I’ve provided some detail crops of the first three images above, and tried to list some of the resources for high-resolution images below. Also, as convenient as images collections like Wikimedia are, you’ll find better color on the sites of the museums listed on Artcyclpedia.

The Hobbema currently on view in the Philadelphia Museum of Art (above, top with two details), has become a regular must-see on my visits to the museum.

[Suggestion courtesy of Erik Tiemens]


David Leffel

David Leffel
David A. Lefffel is highly regarded and influential contemporary painter of still life and figurative works.

There is something about his still life paintings in particular that makes him one of my favorite contemporary artists. Leffel has an extraordinary sensitivity to edges, texture, color harmony and value relationships, that makes his still life subjects simultaneously lively and deeply contemplative.

His mastery of chiaroscuro is an immediate clue to the high regard he holds for the work of the Baroque masters, and his portraiture is infused with a love of Rembrandt in particular.

Leffel studied at the Parsons School of Design and Fordham University, and at the Art Students League in New York, where he encountered Frank Mason, a well known 20th century painter and teacher whose regard for the old masters was second to none.

Leffel went on to teach at the Art Students League himself for 25 years. In both his teaching and his published instructional materials, as well as his own work, he has influenced a number of contemporary artists. If you’re not aware of Leffel, but his style and approach look familiar to you, it’s likely because you’ve encountered one of the numerous artist who have been been so enamored of his work that they have tried to adopt overt characteristics of his style.

Some of those who have been influenced by Leffel have gone on to be superb painters in their own right, developing out of his techniques a mature individual style of their own. One in particular is Sherrie McGraw, another of my personal favorites among contemporary still life painters. McGraw is Leffel’s partner both in life and in a joint venture of Bright Light Publishing and Bright Light Fine Art.

Bright Light Publishing publishes books and instructional DVDs by Leffel and McGraw (as well as a few titles on Nicolai Fechin —see my post on Fechin’s drawings).

Bright Light Fine Art is a newer collaborative venture, along with still life painter Jacqueline Kamin, that provides instructional materials by all three artists by subscription/membership in the Artists Guild. I’ve recently signed up, and will try to provide a review in a subsequent post.

Leffel’s own website features galleries of his work as well publications and listings of workshops. Of the two main books available that feature Leffel’s work and teaching methods, one is specifically about his remarkable series of Self-Portraits, the other is more general and is titled An Artist Teaches.

I have not yet gotten my copy of An Artist Teaches, but I have a copy of an older book, Oil Painting Secrets by a Master by Linda Catura. In it, Catura, former student of Leffel’s at the Art Students league, has taken quotes from Leffel’s lectures and put them together with images of his work. A nice idea, but the book is severely flawed by several of the reproductions being of unacceptably poor quality. Apparently, the book was not proofed before going to print, either originally or in reprint. It’s still worthwhile for fans of Leffel’s work, but I would go with one of the newer books first. (If you happen to order your paint from Vasari Oil Colors, as I do, you can order Leffel’s two main titles, and one of McGraw’s, through them as well.)

You can find some clips from various videos of Leffel teaching by searching on YouTube.

David Leffel’s work will be on display in an exhibition at George Stern Fine Arts in West Hollywood, CA, until November 9, 2013.

Several of the works shown above (though not all) are part of the show. There is a review of the show on Fine Art Connoisseur. A new catalog, Life and Still Life, is available through Leffel’s website.


Eye Candy for Today: Samuel Palmer graphite drawing

Ancient Trees, Lullingstone Park, Samuel Palmer
Ancient Trees, Lullingstone Park, Samuel Palmer

Graphite on cream wove paper, 10×15″ (26x37cm)

In the collection of the Yale Center for British Art. In addition to a zoom, the museum’s page includes a download link from which you can download medium-resolution (1mb) and high-resolution (18mb) versions of the image.

Also available on the Google Art Project and Wikimedia Commons (hi-res 6mb).

In the midst of all of the options for traditional and digital media available today, it’s sometimes easy to overlook the wonders of the humble pencil.

See my previous posts on Samuel Palmer and Pencils.


Mike Yamada

Mike Yamada
Mike Yamada is a visual development artist at Dreamworks Animation, whose credits include Kung Fu Panda, How to Train Your Dragon, Bee Movie and Monsters vs. Aliens, among others.

Most of the work on his blog is from personal projects, or demos done for his classes at the Art Center College of Design. A number of the pieces are from book projects and are collaborative with his partner, artist Victoria Ying. The two share a design studio called Extracurricular Activities, which is also the name Yamada has taken for his blog.

Yamada’s work ranges from moody and detailed in some of the earlier visual development pieces, to light, whimsical and delightfully stylized. He and Ying seem to have nicely combined the two approaches in the storybook project, Curiosities.