I got to do something pretty sweet this past weekend: hang out with Leslie Jenison and meet Tim Jenison of “Tim’s Vermeer” fame:
For those who don’t know, art quilter Leslie Jenison is married to Tim Jenison, an incredibly gifted and talented inventor who took a sabbatical from his company, NewTek, to take it easy and relax (::::cough::::): and attempt to paint Vermeer’s “The Music Lesson.”
Never having painted before, Tim had a theory about how the 17th century Dutch Master was able to paint such photorealistic paintings, and surmised that Vermeer used optical lenses and mirrors–technical aids–to help create his masterpieces.
The documentary chronicles Tim’s journey to recreate a Vermeer in the exact conditions Vermeer painted: everything from constructing the actual room in “The Music Lesson” (from scratch) in a warehouse in San Antonio; mixing pigments (only pigments that were available to Vermeer); creating lenses using 17th century technology and tools; carving furniture (which Tim had never done before); making the windows (never did that either)…everything.
In the documentary, Tim’s first attempt to test his theory was by painting a picture of his father-in-law, and angling a mirror in such a way on the canvas, that he could essentially match the tone of the paint to the photograph, and recreate an image. When the edge of the mirror seamlessly blended with the color of the paint on the canvas, then he knew he had a perfect tone, and that’s how he painted. (Go see the documentary…he explains it much better than I am trying to!)
It took Tim seven months to finish his Vermeer masterpiece, but in total–including building the actual room–Tim’s Vermeer took five years.
And the painting now resides in his bedroom.
It was incredible having the chance to see the painting in person!
And of course I loved the quilt on the bed. Leslie shared with me that she purchased an antique quilt top (a grandmother’s flower garden pattern), then had a friend free-motion quilt it with black thread in whimsical designs.
It was a memorable experience, too, seeing the documentary in San Antonio not only with the Jenisons, but with one of my very favorite artists, Jane Dunnewold.
All in all, an incredibly inspiring weekend, and one of those experiences that makes you do a life inventory. Any quilter or creative person reading this post, I highly recommend seeing this documentary.
Trust me, you will come away changed.