from Paper by Mark Kurlansky [via Nina Reznick]



Paper made its first appearance in Europe in the 11th century, but was expensive and suffered from poor quality. By the 15th century, it was inexpensive and of good quality, and that dramatically changed the level of Renaissance art:

"Paper created a monumental shift in European art. ... Drawing is a primal urge, ... but drawing only became a standard art form when paper became available. In the case of Europe, this occurred dur­ing the Renaissance, when paper was still a new idea on the Continent. Previously, there had been very little informal use of parchment for art because it was too expensive and too difficult to erase. At first, European paper was also too expensive to be used to dash off a quick sketch and had too low a standing to be used for serious art. But by the late fifteenth century, this had all changed. Paper opened up the possibility of the sketch. Renaissance artists sketched out their work before they drew, painted, or sculpted it -- or, in the case of Albrecht Dürer's woodcuts, carved it. This new ability to not only plan but toy with ideas raised their art to a level not known in the Middle Ages.

Albrecht Dürer, 
Self-Portrait at Thirteen, 1484


"Artists drew and sketched with varying degrees of skill. Leonardo da Vinci was legendary for his skills as a draftsman. Michelangelo, known for his frescoes and sculptures, was equally brilliant as a draftsman­ -- many art historians consider him to have been the greatest draftsman who ever lived -- though most of his drawing was scribbled chaotically on sheets of paper not intended for public view. Both artists used Fab­riano paper at least some of the time.

"Sixteenth-century artist and historian Giorgio Vasari, whose Lives of the Most Eminent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects is the leading source of biographical information on the Italian Renaissance artists, tells the story of a sketch by Michelangelo that was displayed in the Palazzo Medici for art students to copy. Since the sheet, like most of Michelan­gelo's sheets, had a variety of sketches on it, students started tearing off pieces of it, and they became 'scattered over many places.' According to Vasari, those fortunate students who ended up with a remnant treasured it and regarded it as something 'more divine than human.'
Head of a Young Woman -- Da Vinci

"Michelangelo used a great deal of paper, [and] ... almost any piece of paper he used contained a few sketches. A few are finished drawings. A stunning drawing of the resurrection of Christ is also marked with a shopping list. Masterful drawings were folded up, with notes about the banal ephemera of everyday life jotted on the reverse side. ...

"Michelangelo may have been among the first to jot down quick ideas for himself. Some 2,000 letters from and to Michelangelo have also been collected. Letter writing is another practice that blossomed with the widespread use of paper.


The Nuremberg paper mill, the building complex at the lower right corner, in 1493.

"Leonardo da Vinci was notorious in his lifetime for his inability to complete projects. ... Fortunately, there was paper, on which Leonardo could capture his genius. Though he is usually thought of as a painter, only fifteen paintings, some unfinished, have been found, along with two damaged murals. He also attempted some sculpture, though he never finished one piece. But he left behind thirty bound notebooks. Unlike Michel­angelo, he did want people to see this work on paper, including the notes he made in his mirror-image script -- a curious response to being left-handed. He left drawings depicting all kind of inventions, and notes on literature, arts, mythology, anatomy, engineering, and, most of all nature....

"Leonardo also left behind four thousand sheets of drawings of stag­gering beauty. He was the first artist to be recognized for his drawings on paper.
Leonardo's work became the standard for art in Renaissance Florence. Studying art now meant working on paper, learning to draw. Leonardo had learned art that way himself, in the workshop taught by Andrea del Verrocchio. Artists have been trained on paper ever since."



Banksy Hits Again [Via Nina Reznick]



The mural appeared overnight on Saturday on the Castle Amusements building in Dover, Kent. Photograph: Hannah Ellis-Petersen for the Guardian

 A Brexit-inspired mural by Banksy showing a metalworker chipping away at a star on the EU flag has appeared in Dover.

The artwork emerged overnight on the Castle Amusements building near the ferry terminal, which connects the UK with mainland Europe.

The mural, which was confirmed by Banksy’s representatives to be a genuine work by the elusive artist, is his first comment on the Brexit vote last year.

The stars of the flag “stand for the ideals of unity, solidarity and harmony among the peoples of Europe”, according to the EU website.

The mural has appeared at a difficult time, when Brexit and the increasingly frosty relationship between Theresa May’s government and the EU over negotiations on Britain’s departure have become central to the general election on 8 June.




This Is Why No One Should Fuck With Nature

1. HOLY CRAP, some wasps built a nest around this old doll.DID YOU KNOW: A distressed wasp releases pheromones that alert her colony to join her in stinging her attacker. Ouch.




reddit.com
DID YOU KNOW: A distressed wasp releases pheromones that alert her colony to join her in stinging her attacker. Ouch.

2. And these fire ants created a floating island of themselves to survive the Houston flooding. (Yes, those are ANTS.)DID YOU KNOW: Fire ant "rafts" can survive up to three weeks and have 165% more venom inside them than normal fire ants. 😬😬




reddit.com
DID YOU KNOW: Fire ant "rafts" can survive up to three weeks and have 165% more venom inside them than normal fire ants. 😬😬

And this mom centipede protecting her babies.DID YOU KNOW: Most centipedes are carnivorous, feasting on crickets, ants, and other small creatures.




reddit.com
DID YOU KNOW: Most centipedes are carnivorous, feasting on crickets, ants, and other small creatures.

This cordyceps fungus is growing on a FUCKING SPIDER.

 DID YOU KNOW: Cordyceps fungus is about as metal as it gets. The parasite takes over an insect's body and can then control its behavior. One species forces its prey to climb up a plant stem and die, and its spores are then scattered by the wind to infect more insects. I WANT MY MOM.




reddit.com
DID YOU KNOW: Cordyceps fungus is about as metal as it gets. The parasite takes over an insect's body and can then control its behavior. One species forces its prey to climb up a plant stem and die, and its spores are then scattered by the wind to infect more insects. I WANT MY MOM.

Here is a reindeer shedding its velvet.

 DID YOU KNOW: Deer shed their antlers and the velvet that coats them and then regrow a new set every year. (The shedding doesn't cause them any discomfort.) Some athletes take deer velvet supplements as an illicit performance enhancer, as the velvet contains a growth hormone similar to insulin.




 
DID YOU KNOW: Deer shed their antlers and the velvet that coats them and then regrow a new set every year. (The shedding doesn't cause them any discomfort.) Some athletes take deer velvet supplements as an illicit performance enhancer, as the velvet contains a growth hormone similar to insulin.

This fiery lava waterfall that looks like it's straight outta Dante.

 DID YOU KNOW: Lava is so hot that it can literally explode when it hits ocean water.




reddit.com
DID YOU KNOW: Lava is so hot that it can literally explode when it hits ocean water.

This bald eagle sitting on top of a goose.


DID YOU KNOW: Eagles typically eat fish, but can kill and eat animals the size of large waterfowl. 

 reddit.com

DID YOU KNOW: Eagles typically eat fish, but can kill and eat animals the size of large waterfowl.

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Debussy Play Debussy: A Vintage Recording from 1913

The selection is "La soirée dans Grenade" ("Grenada in the evening"), from Debussy's 1903 trio of compositions titled Estampes, or "Prints." Debussy was inspired by the Symbolist poets and Impressionist painters who strove to go beyond the surface of a subject to evoke the feeling it gave off.


A century ago, the great French composer Claude Debussy sat down at a contraption called a Welte-Mignon reproducing piano and recorded a series of performances for posterity.  The machine was designed to encode the nuances of a pianist's playing, including pedaling and dynamics, onto piano rolls for later reproduction, like the one above.

Debussy recorded 14 pieces onto six rolls in Paris on or before November 1, 1913. According to Debussy enthusiast Steve Bryson's Web site, the composer was delighted with the reproduction quality, saying in a letter to Edwin Welte: "It is impossible to attain a greater perfection of reproduction than that of the Welte apparatus. I am happy to assure you in these lines of my astonishment and admiration of what I heard. I am, Dear Sir, Yours Faithfully, Claude Debussy."

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Eclipse photos from EarthSky friends [via Pat Francke]




Beverley Sinclair, who saw the eclipse outside Charleston, South Carolina wrote: 
“The skies were very cloudy leading up to totality but, miraculously, slowly 
cleared as totality approached.”


Karl Diefenderfer saw the eclipse in Dillard, Georgia. He wrote: “To witness totality was
one of the most humbling experiences of my life!”


Steven Simmerman, who saw the eclipse from Wilson, Wyoming, wrote:
“Extremely clear sky. Saw shadow bands, leaf lens images, drastic drop in
temperature and light as well. Other celestial objects popped out. I didn’t plan
for the darkness and I lost sight of my camera settings. The flash went off by
itself and I could see the luminescence on my watch numerals.
Overall, an awesome experience!”

 
An animated take on the eclipse experience, by Rob Pettengill, who 
observed in Tarrington, Wyoming. He wrote: “Condensing high-resolution still images
 into a 256-image, color, animated GIF compromises image detail and quality.
The payoff is that you can see the entire 3-hour eclipse play out in about half a minute.”


Gowrishankar Lakshminarayanan caught this image of the diamond ring effect,
with friends watching below, in Boysen State Park, Shoshoni, Wyoming.


Observing from Wyoming, Gowrishankar Lakshminarayanan also caught
the star Regulus in the constellation Leo the Lion, under the eclipsed sun.


Chirag Upreti caught Regulus, too. He wrote: “During totality, the sun’s gorgeous
corona was visible with the unaided eye, and below that lay Regulus the heart of Leo.
The two-and-a-half-minute show was spectacular, magical in every aspect.”


Extended corona with Regulus from Eliot Herman.

Mathematical secrets of ancient tablet unlocked after nearly a century of study


Dating from 1,000 years before Pythagoras’s theorem, the Babylonian clay tablet is a trigonometric table more accurate than any today, say researchers.

The tablet, known as Plimpton 322, was discovered in the early 1900s in southern Iraq and has long been of interest to scholars.




The four columns and 15 rows of cuneiform – wedge shaped indentations made in the wet clay – represent the world’s oldest and most accurate working trigonometric table, a working tool which could have been used in surveying, and in calculating how to construct temples, palaces and pyramids.

Opera singer turned horse trainer Heather Main gets the best out of her steeds by singing arias to them.

She strolls around her yard trotting out the classics and the horses respond by launching into a high-pitched whinny – and some even dance behind their stable doors. It may be unorthodox but Heather claims the amazing rapport has led to some impressive results on the track.


Coke and a Smile! [via Alex Cord}


When you think of riding the subway, laughter and joy aren’t the first words that spring to mind.

It’s a cramped place full of grumpy people either coming home from a bad day at work or are just generally upset.

Yet if you’re lucky enough, sometimes you can find happiness in a subway train.

One such magical moment was captured when a Belgian advertising agency working for Coco-Cola hired an actor to randomly start laughing on the train.

With the tagline–“Happiness starts with a smile”– their new ad aims to bring a bit of joy to everyone’s day.

Just watch and we dare you not to let out a small giggle, or have a smile, too!