She was vindicated by several investigations and has focused our attention on the ethical challenges of sponsored research and the importance of scientific integrity.This year she received the Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, as reported by the Canadian Association of University Teachers Bulletin (http://www.cautbulletin.ca/) this month.
Ada Lovelace Day (findingada.com) is an international day of blogging to celebrate the achievements of women in technology and science.
"The bedroom has been removed from its frame, and awaits me in the restoration studio. I am eager to get started on this restoration! Not long after my appointment as head of conservation at the Van Gogh Museum in 1999, I was given the file on this painting. I read that the painting has been on the list of works awaiting restoration since the 1980s. Still, it’s a good thing that we waited, since the research techniques available to us now have taught us far more than would have been possible twenty years ago."
While I was checking this out, I discovered that the Van Gogh Museum also has a site devoted to his letters. This sketch is just a quick screen capture for a taste. You've gotta check this out for more, and better. The site features the original text, translation into English, and facsimiles of the pages. Treasure!
Someone emailed me recently asking if it's really possible to paint using a Cyan/Magenta/Yellow (CMY), or "process colour" model. He's run into skepticism from working artists, and I'm not surprised. So, let's start with the most important thing. The late great Douglas Adams once said
"Anything that’s invented after you’re 35 is against the natural order of things."
Artists couldn't paint with CMY until we had a stable, lightfast M to work with. I didn't see one on the market until the 1990s. So there aren't many practising painters who trained with M paint. We're practical people, artists, and when it comes to making work, we're surprisingly conservative. We use the materials we know. We want our paintings to last for centuries and we generally use only the tried and true materials with which we trained. Hey, we're experts at how to use two different reds, one for orange and one for purple, so that's what we do. As the saying goes, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. My father drives stick instead of automatic, and I send email instead of text messages. We'd both argue we've chosen the superior technology but you know it's also because we got good at it before we turned 35 and don't see any reason to change.
If you want to persuade a painter, you'll have the most luck with watercolourists, who are fond of a colour called Opera from Holbein, which is a very useful magenta that some people would call pink. It's not quite lightfast but it's still a favourite.
As for me, I trained in the classic RYB model and my thinking is still rooted there, but I have enough science education to be pretty comfortable talking about the relationship between additive and subtractive colour, the RYB model, the CMY model, and the RGB model we need to describe light.
The CMY colour model is about light, but paint relies on pigment. Pigments don't arise on the planet in optically pure colours conveniently corresponding to wavelengths of visible light. There are single-pigment paints that are close to being optically pure primaries (for magentas, you'll want to look at colours with quinacridone), but nothing perfect. There are manufactured paints that are damned close, usually gouache meant for (ephemeral) use in graphic design, but they won't be single pigment.
Here's a kickass web page that assesses a whack of magenta pigments for lightfastness. It's not a casual read (but then, upon reflection, neither is this blog entry) but it looks rock solid and matches all of my own experience with pigments like quinacridone. Looking around the site, Bruce Macavoy does an outstanding job on colour theory. Not for beginners, perhaps, but check it out.
If you want to learn to paint in a CMY model, I recommend the System 3 line of acrylics from Daler Rowney, which includes CM and Y (and sells a handy five-colour Process Set for just this purpose). It's a student grade rather than high end. It's reasonably but not thoroughly permanent. But the colours are very good primaries.
For your first exercise, take a small amount of Y and mix dabs of M into it, very gradually, painting samples onto a clean page, until you get to red. It's a mind-blowing experience and you'll want to make everyone you know try the same experiment. Especially the painters.
I hope my house doesn't burn down soon. That is, I hope my house never burns down, but I especially hope it doesn't burn down soon because I don't know where my copy of Famous Sisters of Great Men is. It's on my short list of Things To Grab As I Flee The Burning Building. Lately, it's also on the longer list of Things I Haven't Seen Since The Move.
I found it in a used bookstore somewhere, perhaps somewhere as storied as Charing Cross Road, London, or as pedestrian as the Salvation Army, Toronto. On-line sources remind me that it was written by Marianne Kirlew although they vary on the date (19th century? 1905?). The title stopped me in my tracks. Famous Sisters of Great Men. Women of accomplishment who were noteworthy first for having famous brothers? You can, or could, acquire your own copy at on-line auction here.
Shocking though the title was to my delicate feminist sensibilities, this is the book that introduced me to Caroline Herschel, astronomer (1750-1848). Today, March 24, 2009, has been declared Ada Lovelace Day, a day for bloggers to celebrate women of science and technology, and I choose to celebrate Caroline. Who wouldn't? She could sing and she could do the elaborate and painstaking mathematics demanded of 19th century astronomical observation. She pulled all-nighters as a matter of scientific necessity and lived to the grand age of 97, still of sound mind. Now this is a tough, smart, interesting woman I'd take as a role model any day.
Her brother, the titular Great Man, William Herschel, built high-performance telescopes that earned him a position as King's Astronomer to George III of England. I'll concede that he was pretty Great. He discovered Uranus, and infrared radiation.
Who was at William's right hand making observations and calculations? The powerhouse, Caroline Herschel. She discovered eight comets. I once made a piece about her (1992ish, mixed media, now somewhere in the collection of the University of Waterloo). Perhaps most serendipitous of all, this is the International Year of Astronomy, an especially appropriate time to remember a starspotter.
And who was Ada Lovelace? When Charles Babbage designed his Analytical Engine, Lovelace described how it might be used to calculate Bernoulli numbers. Babbage called her the Enchantress of Numbers, and history calls her the first computer programmer. Another tough, smart, interesting woman I'd take as a role model. Oh, wait, I already did.
Happy Ada Lovelace Day!