Tim’s Vermeer

I like Penn and Teller. I looked at an interview with Teller talking about his film “Tim’s Vermeer”. I had often wondered what his voice sounded like so I listened. His film so intrigued me I looked for a clip. Here is a clip from the film.

I don’t know much about art and never thought that artists would use mirrors to perfect their images. This man did and it impressed me.

Tell me what you think of this short seven minute video.

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15 thoughts on “Tim’s Vermeer”

  1. Liked the video, the process brought to mind ads that I remember from old pulp publications…

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  2. G.D.:
    Liked the video, the process brought to mind ads that I remember from old pulp publications…

    How many did did you order, Gerry?

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  3. The one that offered free art lessons, and you could be an expert and get rich in no time at all. I must have sent in about 8 drawings to prove I had talent, and was turned down each time, but could be redeemed if I just paid. I never sent any money but deeply disappointing with the false advertising.

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  4. 10 Cents:
    Tell me what you think of this short seven minute video.

    Seen the actual film. The whole idea is nonsense. Tim understands neither optics nor art. Also, just because David Hockney can’t paint without help doesn’t mean Rembrandt couldn’t. That said, I like Hockney’s Pearblossom Highway.

    But if you’re into it, here’s something by Dürer to help with the confirmation bias.

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  5. drlorentz:

    10 Cents:
    Tell me what you think of this short seven minute video.

    Seen the actual film. The whole idea is nonsense. Tim understands neither optics nor art. Also, just because David Hockney can’t paint without help doesn’t mean Rembrandt couldn’t. That said, I like Hockney’s Pearblossom Highway.

    But if you’re into it, here’s something by Dürer to help with the confirmation bias.

    Would you elaborate on why he doesn’t understand art or optics?

    I just thought the contraption was interesting. I wonder if Pencil has an opinion. (I mean about art, Pencil.)

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  6. 10 Cents:
    Would you elaborate on why he doesn’t understand art or optics?

    No time to elaborate. Headed for the high Sierra, but without Bogie and Ida Lupino.

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  7. I’ve read that Vermeer & others used the camera obscura for perspective and drawing, I think it’s kind of an accepted notion in art history. Vermeer even seemed to paint ‘discs of confusion’ in some of his work, which are optical aberrations created by lenses, not by the eye.

    But my understanding was that he traced the lines of perspective & other pictorial elements onto paper with charcoal or other drawing tools while in the camera, then painted it outside the camera, in his studio. (Camera obscuras were, I believe, large enough at that time to stand in – camera, a small room). I didn’t think he painted directly onto the canvas as this fellow shows. It needs to be dark inside a camera obscura, like the inside of a film camera, so that the light of a lit image coming through a pinpoint in one wall is projected (and reversed & inverted btw) onto the far wall with clarity. Just from my experience, it’s pretty dang hard to paint in color in a dark room, even if the canvas is lit. It makes more sense that he traced all the drawing lines on paper, then took the drawing, reversed & inverted it onto canvas and painted it with great skill.

    I doubt Vermeer was just a technician, matching every shade and color of a projection. He composed his pictures with overwhelming beauty – the guy was a master artist.

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  8. Pencilvania:
    I’ve read that Vermeer & others used the camera obscura for perspective and drawing, I think it’s kind of an accepted notion in art history.

    The great thing about using a camera obscura (or other optical aid) is that it does the perspective transformation for free: you need only trace the outlines and don’t need to work out vanishing points geometrically.

    As an optics nerd, the first thing that struck me when I saw Vermeer’s work in a high school art class was what photographers would call “soft focus” and opticians would attribute to spherical aberration.  This is the result of simple spherical surface lenses (the easiest kind to make), not bringing all rays of light focus at the same point.  This causes a softness to the image which some, particularly portrait photographers, find flattering.  That’s what I see in Vermeer’s work.  Now, what’s interesting is that in the 17th century most of the lenses he might have used were the simple spherical surface kind which would have had this kind of aberration.  If he used them as a guide, that might explain that appealing property of his painting.

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  9. One of my favorites – had it on my wall in college – has always been The Lacemaker. You can see, in the closeup, the droplets of color in the thread & fabric. That’s not what the unaided human eye sees.

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  10. As far as I know, projectors have often been used for mural painting, at least in modern times, to enlarge drawings onto the wall surface.

    Classical painters- Michelangelo, DaVinci – enlarged murals using gridlines drawn over smaller drawings. Then assistants would make pinpricks through the paper, all along the lines of the enlarged drawing; fasten the paper to the wall, and pounce a bag full of black chalk dust along the pinpricks – voilà, the drawing lines would appear on the wall behind!

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