I am doing Meredith Lewis Creative Challenge – an advent calendar of daily creative prompts and today it’s to recreate an artwork using materials around you.
I’m a great fan of Vermeer.
Some years ago I was a Rotary Vocational Exchange Program participant for some weeks in the Netherlands. My time on exchange meant that I got to see many places and industries behind the scenes, speaking to various people and being shown aspects of Dutch life and business while also living and being hosted by Dutch families.
It was a definite highlight of my life and an unforgettable experience as well as still keeping in contact with my Dutch host families and friends – even visiting the same Rotary Club a few years back, 20+ years after my exchange to present to them.
While there, I was introduced to Johannes Vermeer, a Dutch painter of the mid 1600s and what I liked about his paintings were their perspective. Each of them seem as if we are quietly observing someone at a moment in their life.
I decided to recreate the Woman Reading a Letter which is in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam (well worth a visit to spend the day in there)
This is what Wikipedia says about this painting:
The central element of the painting is a woman in blue standing in front of a window (not depicted) reading a letter. The woman appears to be pregnant, although many have argued that the woman’s rounded figure is simply a result of the fashions of the day. Although the woman’s loose clothing may be suggestive, pregnancy was very rarely depicted in art during this period.
While the contents of the letter are not visible, the composition of the painting is revealing. The map of the County of Holland and West Friesland in the Netherlands on the wall behind the woman has been interpreted as suggesting that the letter she reads was written by a traveling husband. Alternatively, the box of pearls barely visible on the table before the woman might suggest a lover as pearls are sometimes a symbol of vanity.The very action of letter-reading reflects a thematic pattern throughout Vermeer’s works, as a common private moment becomes revealing of the human condition.
The painting is unique among Vermeer’s interiors in that no fragment of corner, floor or ceiling can be seen.
So out comes Tigga, one of the softest and largest plush toys we own and I recreate the scene in the corner of our dining room making sure there’s a corner of the picture on the wall and the chairs in the background. I add an additional photo later on in Twitter where I add a vignette in the corners and a blue cool filter to the photo because I wanted the feel that I was observing him from afar. Needless to say, it didn’t work. Tigga still had that weird smile on his face that kind of made the scene that little bit more comical and not serious….
I try again to recreate the mood of the Vermeer painting…alas.