Museum Day, or, the Benefit of Skiving Off

Tomorrow, there’s the fund raiser training session. Given that we’ve been raising funds for Krita since time immemorial (our first fund raiser was for two Wacom tablets and art pens so we could implement support for them, the second to let Lukas Tvrdy work on Krita for a couple of months and after that, we’ve had the kickstarters), that might seem superfluous. But I’m still hoping to learn lots. After all, it’s not like we’re exactly awash in money.

But today, we, me and Irina, we went all-out for a day in Vienna. Just took the day off, had a lazy morning with breakfast in the hotel room (tea and croissants…), then took the underground to the Karlsplatz. From there, it was an easy walk to the KHM. Vienna is quite compact.

One thing I love about Vienna is the ubiquitous availability of non-sugary soft drinks. That is, soda zitrone — sparkling water with lemon juice. Half a litre of that in the museum cafe rehydrated us sufficiently to go out and see the parts that we hadn’t seen before. The French/Italian/Spanish parts of the museum are not as paralyzing as the Flemish/German/Dutch parts, but there was plenty! In particular, the three portraits of the Infanta of Spain, at ages 4, 6, 8 (or thereabouts) were touching. Gramps, being the Holy Roman Emperor of the German Nation, had asked his son-in-law for regular updates on his little darling grandchild, and got them, painted by Velasquez.

The Roman/Greek/Egyptian part was curious more than impressive: quantity over quality, perhaps, but still, interesting. It’s also the most unreconstructed part of the museum, with the exhibits often being labeled only in type-written German, on yellowing paper.

Having gone through that section, we were conveniently close to the museum cafe again, where they do serve excellent food. So we lunched there, then went back to our favourites in the dutch/flemish/german paintings sections. I spent half an hour with Rogier van der Weyden again, and if there wouldn’t be that fundraising workshop tomorrow, I would spend an hour in that room again, tomorrow. But we’ve got a year pass and we will return. I like the KHM better than the Bodemuseum in Berlin… There were other paintings I have stared at, trying to remember all of it, like the Reynolds in a little side-room. I was going all squiggly-eyed, so I decided to try and find Irina.

As I was staggering towards the exit, I suddenly became aware of being spoken at by a clean-shaven person, in what I thought was Danish or Swedish or some other language I don’t speak. It turned out to be one of the other Akademy attendees, a Dutchman. I had so much trouble coming down to earth and realizing that he was speaking a language that I could understand! Afterwards, I felt like a loon.

From there, we went out in search of beer. It was, by now, afternoon, and a warm one. We failed though! First we reached the Treasury. Our year pass is valid there as well, and we had been told the Treasury museum is in the medieval part of the Hofburg. And since the Hofburg is, sorry…, weird, it’s like an ordinary, rather plain, apartment building like you find them all over Vienna, we were like, let’s see what the medieval parts look like!

Well, there wasn’t much of that visible. But the presentation was really pretty good: excellent explanations, impressive exhibits, lots of ancient costumes, too. What I really want to know, though, is: how can textile dating back to the Norman kingdom in Sicily, C12, be as smooth and hale as the socks and tunics and orarion are that are shown? Those 1000-year old swords: how can the steel look like it was forged last year? I’m sure it’s that old, but how has it been conserved and preserved like that?

From there we went on, and found a Kurkonditorei — I guess it’s Kur, because you can only get beer in 0.3 and not 0.5 measures, which must have a slimming effect. Still, the beer was cool, my sandwich was good, Irina’s topfenknodel were good too, or so I have been told, and there were so many interesting people to watch… We had another beer.

And then it was time to go back to the hotel, shower, read mail, go out back to the venue area, find that the Bep Viet restaurant was packed, have a pizza at the pizza place, go back again, and realize that this has been one of the nicest Akademy’s I’ve attended, and that Vienna’s one of the nicest places I’ve visited.

Too many images

As Krita hacker, I love to see what artists do with the application we’re creating. And they are doing some truly awesome things… The upcoming Krita 2.5 splash screen is a good example. But I’m still having flashbacks to what I wrote in 2007. Producing images is an industry, and Krita does its bit: we really focus on removing productivity roadblocks for artists, all the time. So there can be more images of unsuitably clad fighting women, as David Apatoff reports from the Comiccon.

But the fact is that we’re simply drowning in images. Just check this blog by Matt Rhodes: “I think Internet broke my brain.”

Don’t read on if you’re offended by full frontal male and female nudity.

Continue reading “Too many images”

Sculpture Update

Apart from too much hacking on Krita, I do some other things. Sculpture is one of them, and I’ve blogged about that before, about a year ago. I haven’t been idle since then, though, but I did leave the sculpture class I joined some years ago. I felt I wasn’t really learning the technical stuff I really needed, and then the whole building got redecorated with the result that the room was too dim for me to actually work in. I’ve got a better place to work at home now!

Besides, at the classes, I keep being told “you have so much imagination, where do you get the ideas from”, not to mention some squicked-out co-students. Which in itself inspired “Insolence”:

From insolence

I still need to study, study, study anatomy, but even more importantly, construction. This one, provisionally titled “Not a Sabine” was inspired by my daughters, who still like to be held upside-down. The wax model his since disintegrated because I didn’t make the frame strong enough!

From Not a Sabine

Then I went on, to try to get anatomy more or less right for once, and I did succeed, even if the frame was once again not strong enough!

From Stretching

Then I went to Munich — I think for the Qt Dev Days, and found in the Glyptothek a little statue of a satyr grabbing its tail: the “schw√§nzchenhashenden Satyrn”, which is exhibited on a little plateau that goes round and round. It’s only a fragment, but I was really inspired (also by the Glyptothek itself, it’s one of those small museums where most people come with a sketchblock and just draw). So I made a middle-aged faun grabbing for his tail:

From Middle-aged faun

The gallery definitely isn’t safe for work, that’s why I chose this angle for my blog.

Finally, for the past two months, I’ve been working on a woman drying her hair, mostly because I started sketching one of the random images for speedpainting from a website David Revoy pointed me out. My pencil sketch was bad, my krita sketch worse, but the sculpture is quite strong. In real life more than in the photo, I’m afraid. I’m still pretty bad at shooting pictures.

From Washing her hair, 2

By now, I think that these sculptures are big enough that they cannot be cast with the simple cire-perdue method, but that I will have to create a mold from them, then make a thin wax cast which I can polish/change — the one above would probably improved with a long tail around the base and hair running down her back — but that something I need to learn about. And finding a place to learn turns out to be pretty difficult!



Sculpture post again, since I need to be away from code and hacking for a while. More Krita stuff tomorrow.

Following both the antique tradtion of the spinario (a statue of a boy withdrawing a thorn from the sole of his foot which I saw a copy of in the Irish National Gallery) and female equivalents like Andrassy Kurta Janos’ Taking out the thorn, as well as the many sculptures in Khajuraho depicting a woman taking a thorn out of the sole of her foot, I tried something similar.

From spinaria (only click if not offended by nudity)

My goals here were in the first place to make something that needs to be turned round and round and round — wherever you look, the eye is drawn round the statue. Then, it’s quite a bit bigger than my usual work (and casting will be correspondingly more expensive, I’m afraid). But it’s done now, more or less to my satisfaction, so up comes the next project. It was ambitious, but gratifying, particularly when one of the colleagues at the sculpture classes exclaimed she wanted to look like this thorn lady. Presumably without the thorn in her foot, though.

My camera recognizes her!

At least, it recognizes this portrait study as a face, since it kept popping up green rectangles. And so does Picasaweb. So there, I am making Progress! I still have a lot of trouble doing a likeness of an existing person since I tend to get carried away by cheekbones and so on.

From Halla

I’m also still struggling with making good pictures for my website. Maybe I should convert the sheet of MDF into a box where I can regulate lighting and use some cloth for the background. The album shows a couple of experiments there. This little portrait study was hard to photograph — but the group I did this summer of a woman in labour was even harder. In the end, I made those black & white.

Next (after I return from the Qt Dev Days in Munich) will be following Edouard Lanteri’s lessons — Irina gave me the book (originally published in 1902…) as a birthday present.


I tried to make a portrait of a 3-year old girl — and what do I get? What looks like a 1.5 year old boy. Better try again… Until I figure out where I went wrong.

My own place to work

After I got the cool sculpture tools I mentioned before, I learned that working on sculpture at the same desk I’m doing software development on isn’t nice. For one thing, I prefer to stand when working on something, for another, there’s definitely not enough difference between work and leisure.

So I cleaned out a corner of my den and then I got a modelling turntable for my upcoming birthday. Wonderful, solid beech with a nice surface to work on. Pile on plenty of light, and the fun starts.

From lupa

(As always, don’t go to the series if you are offended by nudity.)

Cool gear

Yesterday I got myself some new toys.

It’s weird, though, because all my life I have been content with fingers, small bamboo sticks (the sort you use for sateh) and odds and ends like pins or needles. And now I’ve spent some money on these, admittedly, very nice tools.

The first thing I’m going to do is fix the details on the face of this young lady who is about to become a mother in the next, say, twenty minutes.

Although, not today, since tomorrow is Krita bug day, and I am standing by on #krita, ready to help anyone who wants to get the latest Krita running on their hardware. (You can’t really test Krita in a vm, I’m afraid, since much of the issues are with graphics cards or with the use of tablets.)

Kubuntiac and I have, independently, tried to make the OpenSUSE build service build Krita packages from trunk, but Krita is a bit more complex than the average application, so we haven’t succeeded in taming OBS yet. It’s more complex than getting Krita to compile on your system, so don’t be discouraged.



Even before Roop took me for a visit to the temple at Somnathpur I was already interested in Indian sculpture. When I came home, I wanted to try my hand at the style. It’s turned out reasonably well, as you can see. I had a lot of fun figuring out the most important elements of the style, but it’s still recognizably my work. I’m sure I’ll give it another try later on.

From Temple Dancer

The full set of pictures is on Picasaweb, but be warned of nudity, she isn’t wearing much except for some jewelry. I really need to learn to take better pictures: stretching the color with digikam is easy enough, that isn’t the problem. But the distortion when making a picture of a statuette 25cm high is pretty fierce. this one came out quite well, but others have a very¬† distorted head. I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong…

And I really need to start making good pictures because I’m just too productive: not only can I not affort casting all pieces I make in bronze, even if I could afford it, it would take too much room. There are two statuettes at the foundry now, three in the icebox and two are in the making.
So I guess I’ll have to start trying to sell them — after figuring out things
like prices, making a website and learning how to make good pictures.

Third bit of sculpture

When I was done with the She Tripped over the Cat, I started on something new. I was dithering between two designs, which I actually made sketches in wax for:

20100413 001

Here you can see the copper wire frame for the actual sculpture, and if you look carefully, two wax models. One is for a woman who is bent over backwards, like the Egyptian goddess Nut, but belly-up. And a couple of cats playing on her belly. The other was a young man sitting on the ground with his pregnant wife sitting in his lap. Since I’d already done cats last time, I was going for the second option.

And then it started getting interesting, at least for me. When working on it, I started feeling that the whole sitting-in-the-lap idea was a bit static, and also a bit the end of the movement. So my next step was to try having her stand between his legs, and him keeping his cheek to her belly, perhaps listening to their child. Very sweet and something Annelies and my daughters favoured very much, but I still wasn’t happy. It was a beautiful pose, but still quite static.

So then I decided to make her walk to him, and have him stretch out his arms to her. I think the pose works very well, it’s not static. I can’t show it here, where various planets would pick it up. The full set is on Flickr. Do not click if you don’t want to see quite explictly male nudity or even more explictly female pregnant nudity. I think they look innocent, others may disagree.

Technically, I feel I have made progress again. The heads are still in comic-book proportions instead of fully realistic (though not as big as some of the pictures show it: I need to learn compensate for the macro effect), but that’s either something that fits the way I work now, or it’s something it fits the work, or it’s just something I’ll improve on next time. I’m not done: I still need to work on hands and feet, and maybe tweek some positions. And there’s some work to be done on her mouth.