Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: REFLECTION (10/10/19)
- TITLE: Girl With A Pearl Earring
By Corinne Smelker
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My husbandâ€™s former boss in San Antonio is a fascinating man. Tim Jenison founded Newtek, a company that produces animation software used in TV shows like Star Trek, Firefly and others.
Never one to sit on his laurels, Tim is always on a quest to learn. At the end of 2013 he produced a documentary titled, â€œTimâ€™s Vermeerâ€. In he questioned the use of technology by painters in the 1600s, more specifically that of Johannes Vermeer, and his famed painting, â€œGirl with A Pearl Earringâ€.
â€œWhat if,â€ Tim mused, â€œVermeer, although a great artist, had help? What if he used mirrors, prisms and reflections to create his art work? What if, Vermeer at heart, was a geek, like me?â€ Timâ€™s thoughts are not unfounded; mirrors and optical devices were widely known in 17th century Dutch society. This factor, along with the photorealistic quality of Vermeerâ€™s paintings, has caused speculation about his potential use of mirror technology.
What followed was an epic quest to replicate Vermeerâ€™s studio, from the lighting, to the furniture, to the colour of the walls. Tim went on a quest that took five months, he traveled across two continents and had the help of people, both famous and unknown. Graham, the quiet Irishman who sat next to my husband at work helped; as did Penn and Teller.
He did it in the dead of a Texas winter, when his studio was freezing. There were times he wanted to give up, but being the tenacious, fierce man I know him to be, he persevered.
Spoiler alert: Tim finally succeeded in figuring out a technique that allowed him to replicate Vermeerâ€™s "The Music Lesson" (1662), despite having no artistic talent at all.
Tim is a fascinating man, a bit of an enigma himself, a little like Vermeer in that way. But my favourite memory is him dressed up as Father Christmas at the annual Christmas Party, greeting each employeeâ€™s child by name, and giving them a present that he had personally picked out for them.
He might have cracked Vermeerâ€™s secret of optics, mirrors and reflections, but to me, he cracked the secret of reflecting the beauty of life, joy and a life well-lived.
To watch a preview of the documentary, copy and paste this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CS_HUWs9c8c
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