Monday, December 22, 2014

Outstanding Design

Tree Dress by designer Alex Bittner for the Vermeil Room in The White House 2014


Alex Bittner's creative design for a White House decoration

Merriest Christmas!

I wish you much fun and frivolity on the 25th!
May all those you love be in touch, or sharing the warmth of your colorful heart. Barbara Boothe Loyd

"Christmas hath a beauty
Lovelier than the world can show:
For Christmas bringeth Jesus,
Brought for us so low.
Earth, strike up your music,
Birds that sing and bells that ring;
Heaven hath answering music
For all Angels soon to sing."
Christina Rossetti


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Admiral Horatio Nelson

Emma by George Romney
The Saga of the century continues...

Admiral Horatio Nelson

It was the scandal of the century which added an intriguing twist into the already fascinating life of Norfolk’s great sea hero.
The passionate love affair between Lord Horatio Nelson and Lady Emma Hamilton lasted just six years but it transformed their lives, their respective positions in society and the public’s perceptions of them both.
Now a letter written by Nelson to his mistress, which gives an insight into his turbulent love life, has come to light.
It is up for auction in London later this month when it is hoped the letter could fetch up to £8,000.
Nelson, from Burnham Thorpe, was clearly in an emotional state when he wrote the letter.
In it he refers to a disagreement between himself and Lady Hamilton the previous evening.
He takes care to note his devotion to her and vows to defend her integrity amid the scandal.
The exact date when the letter was written is not known, but experts believe it was written in 1801, based on how he signed his name as simply ‘Nelson’, which he was known to do at this time.
It was a time when Lady Hamilton had given birth to their child Horatia and their affair was public.
Despite Nelson’s wife’s demands, he refused to relinquish Lady Hamilton as his mistress and eventually he left his wife.
In the 19th century, this was an unthinkable social affront and he aggravated the scandal further by choosing to live with Lady Hamilton and their daughter, Horatia, upon his return from sea.
The year 1801 was also when Nelson had an instrumental role in winning the Battle of Copenhagen.
Nelson was second in command of the expedition to attack Denmark and, on the back of this victory, he was appointed commander in chief of the Navy.

“Many of Nelson’s letters were kept as memorabilia because he was such a legend in his own time.
“Anything Nelson-related that we deal with always attracts a huge amount of interest.
“We have auctioned a few Nelson letters but this one is particularly special because it is so emotionally-driven and direct.
“It gets to the core of the relationship between Lord Nelson and Lady Hamilton which was a huge scandal at the time.
“The Nelson letters we have dealt with in the past have been more formal and relating to naval concerns.”
During the scandal, Nelson urged Lady Hamilton to destroy the letters sent between them, as he largely did.
Lady Hamilton, however, chose to keep her letters which were eventually published in 1814, contributing to her downfall.
Plagued by politics and social disgrace, their affair lasted only six years before Nelson’s death at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.
As he died he repeated the plea he had made for the government to take care of Lady Hamilton and their daughter.
But, despite this, Lady Hamilton’s life after Nelson’s death was a catalog of debt and betrayal.
The government heaped money on Nelson’s family while Lady Hamilton and Horatia received nothing.
By 1812 Lady Hamilton was deep in debt and fled to France with her daughter to avoid creditors.
When Nelson’s letters to her were stolen and published in 1814 as the ‘Letters of Lord Nelson to Lady Hamilton’, she lost any chance of government sympathy or money, and by the following summer she was imprisoned for debt in the King’s Bench Prison.
On her release in the autumn, she fled the demands of her other creditors by hurrying to Calais with Horatia. There, her spirit finally failed her. She grew progressively weaker, and died in January 1815, aged 49.
Horatia returned to England and lived with Nelson’s sisters.
At 21 she married her neighbor, the Reverend Philip Ward, and died in 1881, the mother of eight and grandmother of many.

She never forgot the harsh treatment her mother received from the press.

Emma as Circe by George Romnay


Emma in a Straw Hat by George Romney


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

George Romney and Lady Hamilton

George Romney and His Muse, Lady Emma Hamilton

The English painter George Romney became infatuated with Emma, Lady Hamilton. He depicted Emma dressed in various costumes. If his portraits are truthful, it is easy to see why he was smitten with her. He met her when she was seventeen. He painted over sixty portraits of her in various poses as historical or mythological figures.


Emma Hamilton was born on the 26th of April 1765, nee Amy Lyon, the daughter of a blacksmith who died when Emma was only two months old. Her mother raised her. Emma became a maid in various wealthy homes. She had no formal education. One of her rich patrons changed her name to Emma Hart. When she was seventeen years old she was sent to Naples, Italy by a lover so he could marry a rich woman to replenish his fortune. Emma was sent to his wealthy uncle, Lord Hamilton, so Emma could be hostess to his lavish parties. 



George Romney met her in Naples in 1782. Emma designed a mime art show called “Attitudes” where she portrayed famous women such as Cleopatra and her audience was asked to guess who she depicted by studying her postures, dance and acting. This form of charade became a sensation with visitors from across Europe and set off new dance trends and fashion for a draped Grecian style of dress. She got the idea for her theatrics from the various characters Romney asked her to emulate in the portraits he painted.



She married Sir William Hamilton in 1791 when she turned 26; her groom was 60. Emma became a close friend of Queen Maria Carolina, sister of Marie Antoinette and wife of Ferdinand I of Naples. In 1793, Carolina introduced her to Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson in 1793 when he arrived in Naples to recruit reinforcements for the English Navy for their battles against the French. Five years later, Nelson returned to Naples as a living legend and hero. He lost an arm and most of his teeth during sea battles and was prone to coughing spells. Emma insisted she could nurse him back to health and he resided with Lord and Lady Hamilton at their palatial home, Palazzo Sessa in Naples.
Emma invited 1,800 guests to Admiral Nelson’s 40th birthday celebration. The Lady and the Admiral were infatuated and produced a love child, Horatia who was born in 1801.Lord and Lady Hamilton and Admiral Nelson continued to live together, causing a scandal at the time.  Emma refused to divorce Lord Hamilton; he died in 1803 of amoebic dysentery shortly after their return to England. The British Admiralty sent Admiral Nelson to sea to try to quieten the scandal.  Admiral Nelson died at the naval battle at Trafalgar in 1805. These deaths impoverished Emma. She and her daughter fled to France where, at age 49, she also died of amoebic dysentery, probably contracted in Naples. 
Horatia married Reverend Philip Ward and the couple produced ten children.

Read more about these characters of an actual 18th century melodrama at Wikipedia.com. More portraits of Emma by Romney are also viewable. One of my favorite research  revelations was that Horatia named one of her sons Marmaduke! 









Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Monet's Range of Colors Are Logical


According to Albert Munsell, who was a painter and art teacher and inventor of the Munsell system of colour, colours do not have just one property, but instead is comprised of the value (lightness or darkness of the colour), chroma (intensity – brightness to dullness of the colour) and hue (the colour) and undertone (relative warmth and coolness of the colour).
Here we have a Monet that is light in value
Here we have a Monet that is mostly deep in value.

Here is a mostly bright and clear (high intensity) picture
and here is one that is muted and has a low saturation of colour.
This picture has a warm undertone
This one has a cool undertone.
So  green (or any color) can be warm or cool, light or dark, bright or muted, all at the same time!  So of course you can have a light cool green, or a light warm green, that light cool green could be brighter, or more muted, it could be really light or only medium light.  It could be a very cool green or only a slightly cool green.
When we think about these different aspects of color and colors that blend well together, we may look for overall light, cool and clear colors, or alternatively warm, deep and muted colors (as a couple of examples).
It would look very odd if Monet had put a bright color or two into a muted painting, just  like it doesn’t work in interior design or when combining colors in clothes if we combine colors that have no properties in common together.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Car Color Options-Are they endless?

Automotive IndustryChevroletDodgeChryslerSubaru
From Velocity Yellow to Sublime Green, automakers offer a palette of colors that would make Da Vinci envious.
Favorite color? For new car buyers, the choices are almost endless.
Colors change with the seasons, but an automobile is never fully dressed without a
 coat of paint. While Henry Ford would let customers have only black to speed the
 drying process, today's automakers offer a palette that would make da Vinci 
envious, with names like Velocity Yellow, Cashmere Metal, Ruby Red Pearl, Fathom Blue, Orange Fire Pearl.
"Overall, the most popular colors are more 
natural," said La Shirl Turner, design chief of advanced colors and materials for Chrysler 
Group. "Typically, it's white, silver and black. 
At the Paris auto show, neutral brown and 
earth tones were big. We also have our impact
 colors — reds and blues."
Paint types varied recently. Metallics have 
been the rage for a while, but matte finishes are showing up on Smarts and German sports cars. Nonmetallic paints with their dense color are making a comeback. 
Think of the grayish-blue Anvil color popular on Jeeps, light blue and pale orange
 on Dodge Dart, and red on Chevy trucks. Conversely, adding metallic to 
traditionally straight colors like white on the Subaru BRZ creates interest.
Regardless of era, some colors are staples. Chevrolet always has some version of medium blue for Corvette and Camaro (the most popular Corvette color is red). Ford King Ranch pickups exploit prairie-inspired themes. Dodge Challenger has hues like Plum Crazy, Header Orange and TorRed. Subaru is famous for Blue Pearl.
Brand, lifestyle and vehicle type affect available colors. Turner says it's important not to have every color on every vehicle. Jeeps and Fiats offer more expressive shades because of their use and customers, while 
luxury cars stick to darker, more traditional colors. It may seem silly to have bright orange on a 
luxury sedan, but looking at the circus hues
 Chinese buyers like for their Rolls-Royces, 
maybe not.
Wheels are showing colors too.
"We did slate wheels on the Chrysler 300 Varvatos," Turner said. "It's a space we're really working towards for the future. For customers, it's not just about body color. They
 pay attention to accessories like they do interiors."

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

I have researched my students' favorite color for years. Hands down, one color usually dominated. Blue is a universal favorite, evidently, as shown in the following article. Some things never change.


The Most Popular Color in the World Is...
...blue.
From denim jeans to corporate logos, the color blue is consistently ranked as the world's favorite color, according to ColorMatters.com.
Blue has different meanings depending on the shade:

  • Dark blue signifies trust, dignity, intelligence and authority.
  • Bright blue indicates cleanliness, strength, dependability and coolness.


  • Light blue suggests peace, serenity and infinity.Fun facts to know and tell about the color blue, according to ColorMatters.com:
    • 53 percent of the flags in the world contain blue.
    • When it comes to corporate logos, blue is the most commonly used color.
    • A dark blue suit is professional business attire.
    • Blue jeans are worn all over the world.
    • Aristocracy is blue-blooded in all European languages.
    • In American culture, blue has evolved as a symbol of depression. We "sing the blues" and "feel blue."
    • Greeks believe that blue wards off "the evil eye."
    • Dark blue is the color of mourning in Korea.
    • The god Krishna has blue skin.
    • Blue is sharply refracted by the eyes, causing the lens to flatten and push the blue image back. We perceive that blue areas are receding and smaller.
    • Blue has very few connections to taste or smell; therefore, it may act as an appetite suppressant.
    --From the Editors at Netscape
  • Wednesday, November 12, 2014

    The Color Red and Sexual Attraction

    Science Discovers The Color of Sexual Attraction

    What are you wearing?

    In many people’s minds the sources of sexual attraction--the vaunted 'chemistry,' the elusive ‘electricity’--are shrouded in mystery. Indeed, much remains unknown about why two people are attracted to each other. Nevertheless, in recent decades science has revealed many secrets about heterosexual attraction. We know for example that women around the world are attracted to symmetrical male bodies and faces, to the physical manifestations of testosterone (a strong chin, broad shoulders, deep voice), and to a man’s social status,intelligence, and sense of humor. We know that men all over the world are attracted to signals of youth in a female (smooth skin, lush hair, generous lips), to the 'hourglass' figure (a waist to hips ratio of 0.7) and so on. Now, many studies point to another fundamental source of attraction: the color red.



    Granted, the connection is not entirely surprising. Red is commonly associated with passion and eroticism--just think of the Red Light District, red roses, red lipstick, red wine, the 'Lady in Red'….


    Do you have a license to drive?
    In ancient societies, red often served as a symbol of status, power, and virility--the masculine traits considered sexy by women. Throughout history, kings, cardinals and judges were often red-robed. Way back in the middle ages, the symbol of the Christian church was a red cross. In ancient Rome, leaders were called coccinati – ‘wearing red.’ Even today, the 'power tie' is red. Red Baron is a sexy macho brand; someone super sexy is ‘red hot;’ a red Corvette is practically a sex toy.
    These anecdotes and cultural associations are fascinating but inconclusive. In recent years, a number of experimental studies have set out to dig deeper and elucidate the nature and mechanisms of the association between the color red and sexual attraction.
    Cumulatively, the research shows that the effect of the color red is significant, unique, and that it operates at a sub-conscious level. Red is experienced as attraction booster by both sexes, although the mechanisms that mediate the effect of red on attractiveness ratings appear to differ for men and women.


    It's all in the color of his swimming trunks
    Studies have shown that for women, the color red enhances a man’s attractiveness. In 2010, the researchers Andrew Elliot, Daniela Niesta Kayser and colleagues at the University of Rochester in New York published a series of experiments conducted in four different countries. The researchers told participants that the studies explored their “first impressions of others,” and avoided mentioning color and sex. Half of the participants, randomly assigned, were exposed for five seconds to a picture of a man on a red background. The other half saw that image on a white background (another experiment manipulated the man's shirt color, with similar results). Participants rated the attractiveness of the man in the picture. The results showed that women ranked the man as more attractive when he was presented against the red backdrop. The researchers then ran the same experiment on men (who were asked to rate the same man against these color backgrounds) and found differences in color did not affect ratings. They took this finding as support for the contention that red carries sexual messages, not merely aesthetic ones. Further experiments by this team have shown that the color red also increased attractiveness rating of the men in the eyes of women compared to other colors such as gray, green, or blue.
    Another experiment by these same researchers showed that the man in red was rated as high in social status, and with higher potential for success. Color, however, had no effect on ratings of the man’s likability, agreeableness, or sociability. Based on this finding (and an already existing robust literature on the attraction of male status) the researchers concluded that the link between red and sexual attractiveness is facilitated through the color’s link to higher male status.
    But what about men’s reactions to the color red? Is red on a woman perceived as sexual bait by men? The research answer in a word: Yes.


    Would get lots of tips
    In an earlier series of experimentsAndrew Elliot and Daniela Niesta(2008) found that men reported higher sexual attraction toward a woman dressed in red compared to women dressed in other colors. Men also expressed the intent to spend more money on a date with a woman in red. In a 2012 study involving 272 restaurant customers, researchers Nicolas Guéguen and Céline Jacob found that male patrons gave higher tips to waitresses wearing red over waitresses wearing white. Providing further evidence for the existence of a red-sex association, Sascha Schwartz and Marie Singer of the University of Dortmund in Germany showed that 'red effect' holds for young women but not for elderly women. (The age of the men doing the rating, however, did not matter: young and old men alike ranked young women in red as the most attractive).
    So, red appears to be associated in men’s mind with female sexual attractiveness. But what mechanisms underlie such a link? In a set of studies published last year, the researchers Adam Pazda, Andrew Elliot and Tobias Greitemeyer found that men perceive women in red as more sexually receptive, and that they perceive sexually receptive women as more attractive.
    Other studies have supported these findings. A study by French researcher Nicolas Guéguen also found that men attributed higher levels of sexual readiness to women wearing red. Daniela Niesta Kayser, Andrew Elliott and Roger Feltman recently published a series of experiments examining the effect of 'woman in red' on the behavior of heterosexual men. They found the men directed more intimate questions toward the 'woman in red' (intimate questions are a known indication of increased sexual interest). In addition, men chose to sit closer to the woman in red than to a woman dressed in a different color (blue, in this experiment). The effect remained significant even when the researchers statistically controlled for the potential impact of other factors, such as mood, general arousal, and the participants’ self-rating of attractiveness.
    Overall, it appears that men perceive a woman in red as signaling readiness for sex. Female sex-readiness is attractive to men, partly because it is a relatively scarce resource.


    In taupe she's a wallflower
    This tendency of men to see women dressed in red as signaling sexual availability and interest is not random or delusional. Andrew Elliot and Adam Pazda, conducting research on the Internet, published a study last year showing that women, in their profile pictures, wore red more often on hook-up sites than on marriage-orienteddating sites. On dating sites overall, women expressing an interest in casual sex chose to present themselves dressed in red much more often than women who expressed an interest in serious relationships only. According to the results, women dressed in red are more than twice as likely to describe themselves as interested in casual sex than women wearing any other color.
    Astonishingly, the link between the color red and sexual attraction appears to be subconscious. In all the studies cited above, during debriefing, the overwhelming majority of the participants failed to guess the purpose of the experiments, and none reported that color had been a factor in their rating decisions.


    Irresistable
    The sources of the link between sexual attraction and red color are not entirely known. In the more recent historical context, it is likely that the effect is learned through conditioning, social traditions, and acquired habits. In the more distant context, most researchers believe that the source of the connection lies somewhere in our evolutionary past. After all, the color red is commonly used in the animal kingdom to express sexual power and readiness. Among many species, the prominent, dominant male will manifest the brightest red colors. Among our relatives the primates, red often signifies fertility and sexual readiness. Female baboon and chimpanzee, for example, make public their ovulation by displaying the redness on their genitals and chest. Among humans, sexual excitement is often associated with redness in the body’s erogenous areas, and with facial blushing. Robust physiological processes such as strong blood flow and high testosterone levels (in men) are required to produce a reddish skin appearance. Thus, the color itself may have become over evolutionary time a proxy signal for reproductive potential.
    This research area has not, of course, been exhausted. There is more to learn about the color red; for example, why is it also often associated with danger, anger, and violence (red flag, red light; red card; red alert; seeing red)? We do not yet know enough about the human sexual response patterns to other important colors, such as black (which is by the way, the most common dress color on online dating sites). We do not know enough about the 'red effect' in the context of uniquely contemporary social milieu (for example, how do male employees respond to a red-clad female boss?).
    It is also clear of course that we cannot deduce from these findings that a woman dressed in red is necessarily available or interested in sex, as it is impossible and inappropriate to conclude that a man in a red tie is necessarily a wealthy boss. There are many reasons, unrelated to sex, why someone may decide to wear red (or not). Maybe red just looks good on you. Maybe it’s of the height of fashion this winter. Perhaps this is the only clean shirt you found in your closet. Maybe you are a Red Wings fan.
    We may, however, be able to conclude (carefully) from the findings that the color red constitutes a unique, significant and subconscious sexual signal, rooted in our biological heritage. Beyond its aesthetic value, red also carries psychological meaning, and it has the potential to affect our behavior and our sexual feelings