Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Banking cross Borders

Me, the Professor of Back to the Future, the Captain of the Nautilus, or better yet a Senior Internet Infrastructure Consultant has had the nerves to first of all - listen to his older and wiser brother Gijs - and beyond that - decide to do all my banking stuff by computer...finally!

The perceptions I have of a Bank are:

- Trustee
- Adviser
- Treasurer
- Bookkeeper

All these roles, if you like, would sum up to a Bank advising me:

- Not to give up a full-time job with an International Company
- Not to sell my House in a weak Economy
- Yet to increase my Savings... until I am Old and ... Wise

However, a Bank turns out to be:

- Remote
- Risk-taking
- Advertising rather than Advising

My Bank has hidden itself under a Big Rock and is reluctant to show its face. The (inter)face is through a network of computers spanning the World. I am informed by a Silicone Bank Employee.

Silicone Bank Adviser... would you lent her your car?

And rather than calling me up and saying: "Willem, stop the artistic crap! Come and live in Lelystad and save for your kids tuition." They invite me to go Internet Banking.

It is Remote (your Adviser is asleep while I mind my Business), it is Risky ('what is this button for...') and involves Real Money, not Monopoly guys!

Disappointed as I may sound by this lack of Financial sense and mentoring, I have joint the Merry-Go-Round:

Translated from Dutch: Free lessons on how to do Internet Banking... free sounds good

Have to catch a plane to Spain tomorrow.
No worries, I am a Banker!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Plaster or disaster

With yesterday's vibes still in my legs, after a cheerful night of dancing, the FIRE ALARM woke me up at 7.34 am !

All dressed and rushed I hadn't reached the front door by the time the alarm was silenced... false alert ;o(

It rarely happens to me that I wake up more early than necessary, but this was an opportunity to prepare for today's class on Sculpture.

You may remember that I am planning on building a huge 'MacLeania Pentaptera' (i.e. a flower) from plaster. After I had built de wire frame, today I was going to put the plaster on.

But since I had some spare time at the computer I looked up some ripples which would fit with my from-flower-appearing-ice-skaters:


My ice-skater(s) would be 'dancing' on ice after they had popped out of the flower.

= I suddenly realize that there is a connection here; dancing, ice (see film Frozen), and flower (Botanic Garden) =

So here I am plastering...

And this is what has resulted from it... my plastered flower.

Next will be the ice-skaters!

Monday, October 24, 2005

Frozen on Monday

My teacher in Tapestry turns out to be a Production Designer! Loren Slater has been working on a film which is to be seen for the first time by an audience, in anticipation of the BAFTA Awards (i.e. the 'Oscars' for British Film & TV).

She has invited me to see the film "FROZEN" tonight.

Sometimes finding someone is worse then losing them.

Source -

Synopsis of the film "Frozen" by Juliet McKoen:

Frozen, the first feature of award-winning director Juliet McKoen, is a film that lets the audience decide whether it’s a psychological thriller, a murder mystery or ghost story.

Set in the stark beauty of Morecambe Bay, north west England, Frozen is a story about unresolved loss and the inherent danger of hope turning into obsession.

In a performance of “unflinching immediacy”, Shirley Henderson (Intermission, Harry Potter, Bridget Jones) plays Kath, a woman still haunted by the mysterious disappearance of her sister Annie two years earlier. When she steals a security camera videotape from the police that captures Annie’s last moments, Kath believes she finds a mysterious image on it. As she retraces Annie’s last steps, she has recurring visions of Annie in an otherworldly landscape. Whilst Kath becomes convinced that her sister is trying to reach her, those around her become increasingly sceptical of her claims.

So has Kath really found a way to access the afterlife. Or is she losing her grip on reality? And what exactly did happen to Annie?

Frozen , a lyrical film about the impermanence of existence, examines the boundaries between perception and reality right up to its final climactic moments.

Loren Slater – Production Designer

After graduating from Edinburgh College of Art Loren Slater was Assistant Art Director on Juliet McKoen’s short film Mavis and the Mermaid. Since then she has worked on short films as Art Director and on her own photographic, film and installation projects.

“I was drawn to the film’s themes of reality and illusion, and spent a long time prior to the shoot discussing the film with Juliet and visiting Fleetwood. This was a great help to the challenge of making the recreated sets as naturalistic as possible, whilst still reflecting Kath’s state of mind in the colours and spaces. I am particularly happy with the CCTV images as we’ve managed to achieved something poignant which we spent much time discussing and imagining.”

Sunday, October 23, 2005

And after Light came Space

One of the difficulties with visual art is representing the three-dimensional world in two dimensions. The flat surfaces we use to communicate ideas, including print, television, the Web, and motion pictures, all present information in two dimensions.

Phase Two: The Illusion of Depth

To perfect my drawing at the Waverley Station of last Friday I have to find some effective techniques for representing the three-dimensional world using more limited two-dimensional media.


There are two simple rules about representing depth. Size decreases with distance, meaning objects that are further away from the viewer appear to be smaller. Objects also overlap when one is in front of the other, hiding part or all of the farther object(s). These two observations are the basis for perspective.

The easiest way to understand how perspective works is to imagine standing in the middle of train tracks (not recommended for safety reasons) and looking along the tracks into the distance. Visually follow the tracks to the horizon (where the earth meets the sky) and the tracks appear to meet at a point in the distance. This converging point is called the vanishing point.

Now imagine that as you look at the train tracks converge into the distance, you are holding a piece of rectangular glass directly in front of you. If you traced what you saw onto the glass with a marker, you would be drawing onto the picture plane. Perspective is a method for representing what is seen through the picture plane on another two-dimensional surface.

The train tracks are an example of one-point perspective, the easiest of the perspective methods. This method is useful when representing landscapes, city streets, and other environments in which things are aligned and converge to one central point.

One-Point Perspective, courtesy of Andrew Kator

One-point perspective images have a tendency to draw the viewer along the lines to the vanishing point. This effect can be used to greater advantage by placing the subject of an image in front of or near the vanishing point. The viewers will more naturally focus their attention because most of the lines in the image converge onto that area. This effective technique has been used for centuries and can easily be seen in Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper and works from other artists.

"Last Supper" by Leonardo da Vinci using a one-point perspective

The boxes to the left to the tracks in the one-point perspective example have one face perfectly aligned parallel to the picture plane. This is a limitation of one point perspective. Another problem with this technique is that objects become more distorted the further they are from the vanishing point, as can be seen with the far left box in the example.

Although I was at a Train Station, my scene was definitely not one-point perspective, so I had to learn more...

The real world is rarely so organized as to align objects facing the viewer, nor are we often standing in the correct position to observe objects so directly. Because we view most objects from an angle, and not directly from the front or sides, two-point perspective allows us to represent our world more realistically by orienting two faces of an object obliquely to the picture plane.

Two-Point Perspective, courtesy of Andrew Kator

The book illustration shows an example of two-point perspective. Other than the obvious difference in having two vanishing points, it is also important to note that objects drawn using this method have an edge closest to the picture plane rather than a face as in one-point.

The horizon line in the book image is higher in the two-point example than the horizon in the one-point perspective image. The higher horizon suggests a viewpoint from a higher position, such as looking down upon a book on a table. The position of the horizon line represents the viewer’s eye level and affects how the viewer interprets the image.

A lower horizon suggests that the scene is either from greater distance or that the viewer is lower to the “ground.”

A higher horizon could also be used to suggest the viewer was looking out a window from a tall building. Horizon line placement is similar to using a “bird’s eye view” or a “bug’s eye view” in photography.

These extremes are useful for creating more dramatic visual results. Look for this technique in comic books, where horizon placement and exaggerated perspective are used to suggest action and create more visual interest.

One-point and two-point perspective techniques can be used in the same image if needed to represent different objects. Determine if an object’s face (one-point) or edge (two-point) is closest to the viewer and then use the appropriate method. Each object may also have its own vanishing points, since only aligned objects will share them.
Coming back to our Waverly Station stairs of my drawing assignment, below are the perspective lines drawn on top of the picture.

Waverley Station Stairs with lines in two-point perspective.

Three-Point Perspective, courtesy of Andrew Kator

If the corner of an object is closest to the picture plane, then three-point perspective can be used. The third vanishing point is not on the horizon line. The position where the third vanishing point is placed, either above or below the horizon line, indicates whether the viewer is looking up at the object or looking down.

Notice that in the chair illustration the picture plane does not contain the vanishing points. It is not necessary for the vanishing points to be within the picture plane for perspective to work. When creating smaller images using two or three-point perspective, the results will often appear more natural if no more than one vanishing point is in the picture plane at any given time.

Newsflash ! The Da Vinci Code is being filmed in Edinburgh

May 18, 2005
The Da-Vinci Code teaser Trailer

The Da Vinci Code is now online with a new website and also a little teaser trailer

July 04, 2005
Tom Hanks in Da Vinci Code

Over at Coming Soon they have the first photos of Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon from the movie set of The Da Vinci Code.

July 27, 2005
The Da Vinci Code to film in Edinburgh

...and despite me living only a few miles away it looks like I'll get nowhere near it! According to many sources, I'll cite the BBC on this one, The Da Vinci Code is coming to Rosslyn Chapel, one of the main UK locations in the book. Rosslyn Chapel is steeped in history.

Rosslyn Chapel - Film location

When the Knights Templar were dropped as the Pope's army and hunted down by his troops, some of them escaped to Scotland. At that time Scotland was excommunicated from the Church and it seemed a safe, and close, place to go. The Templars allegedy took with them a secret which allowed them great power over the Church, some say it was the Holy Grail itself, and they took it with them to Scotland and hid it there, forming the Masons in the process.

Rosslyn is supposed to be one of the first places that the Templars settled in, and the Chapel is alleged to have secret chambers beneath it which have never been opened. It also features some amazing architecture, some of which depicts a journey to the new world (the Americas) well before Christopher Columbus. Rosslyn certainly does keep it's fair share of secrets...and this movie is one of them!

Trustees spokesman Stuart Beattie said: "The chapel has long been a popular destination for hundreds of years."..."There are many stories in Rosslyn's long history and I'm sure the chapel will make a superb backdrop for this particular one."...The chapel will close for the filming between 26 and 29 September...

It's a superb location, and certainly a great addition for the movie considering it's importance.

September 20, 2005
Da Vinci Code arrives in Edinburgh

Da Vinci Code Film Poster

Already the crews are setting up at Rosslyn Chapeljust outside Edinburgh for the filming on The Da Vinci Code. According to The Scotsman Tom Hanks has already been.

...he acclimatised himself to the stunning surroundings by watching the Robert Burns play Ae Fond Kiss at the medieval chapel last month before going for a walk in the nearby glen.

Woo...and no one has invited me on official capacity from the Movie Blog. I'm just a few miles away...Doesn't really matter, it sounds like the filming is under tight security. If I get any information you'll be the first to know!

September 26, 2005
Da Vinci Code starts filming in Edinburgh

Well just outside, but crews have been moving in and working for a few days now and the filming has begun today. The weather is very windy, slightly damp, overcast and threatening rain. How do I know? I live here. No link required.

They're filming for the next four days (or so) at Rosslyn Chapel, which is mentioned in the book. Still, at least they're using Rosslyn, and the money will help them with restorations. It's a very beautiful place (as is Edinburgh). My advice though is to go early in the day and make the most of your entrance fee.

Oh, and I won't start a rant about how all the real story of Da Vinci Code is almost indentical to the book The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln published in 1982. Everyone, including the Church, has latched onto the Code and the hype, yet just about the entire back story of the Church and the Grail, etc is uncannily like this 1982 book.

Update: Just watched the Scottish news and they can't get anywhere near the filming either. The whole area is blocked off and the Chapel shut down for tourists. Looks like we'll be waiting to find out about it after the filming. Lot's of trucks around, stories from the local people annoyed about access (to what, the Chapel? It's not a through road!) and from a tourist who wanted to see the Chapel but can't, well stay around for a few days and you can. Oh, and the original Rosslyn Hotel talking about the crew popping in for dinner, yeah, colour me cynical, we won't see Hanks there, but the story is good for trade. So no news out of there I'm afraid.

The Da Vinci Code, the movie in a cinema near you
19 May 2006, worldwide

Saturday, October 22, 2005

After Darkness there was Light

After my visit to Waverley Station yesterday, where we had to draw 'the atmosphere', I delved into the subject that is essential for visual art... light!

Just to name a few examples;

Movie-making: Camera, Light, ... Action
Drawing: Draw Black or White where there is Darkness or Light
Photography: It's the Light that makes the Photo
Coloring: Colors are the Result of the Prism of Light

So my craftsmanship needed some research on physics. Here we go...

I had started by making a picture of the stairs that lead upward to the bridge across the street.

Waverley Station - Edinburgh

Phase One - Values of Light

The first thing when starting to draw for painting is closing your eyes.... but not all the way, you sleepy! Just a little bit. Or as the Scottish would say; "a wee bit".

Your focus is on light versus dark and the shades of gray...

A shade is a combination of white and black to produce a particular shade of gray. All of the shades of gray between white and black are values, and when used together are also called gradations.

Shades, courtesy of Andrew Kator

So what’s value good for? Value is great for suggesting volume, creating spacial effects, changing mood, creating visual interest, and changing impact.

Waverley Station in gradations

Next, look through the blinds of your eyelashes and look for contrast. Contrast describes the range of gradation between different values. Let's look at the pole at the bottom of the stairs for contrast with the floor.

Detail of stairs to show contrast (sorry for the low resolution)

A balanced image will have the most values between white and black. A high contrast image has fewer gradations. A low contrast image is missing the ends of the spectrum, white and black and the values closest to them.

High contrast is often used for greater impact; lower contrast can quiet things down and even create harmony.

Increasing the contrast of objects in the foreground of an image, and decreasing the contrast of objects in the background, can create more spacial effects.

Detail of stairs with spacial effects.

Now lets suggest volume and space by use of value.

What’s the difference between drawing a circle and a ball? Value.

Because of the way the human brain interprets the world, value can be used to create the illusions of volume and space.

People naturally interpret that lighter values indicate a light source. By using shading our flat circle is instantly given volume, and becomes a sphere.

Shading and value can also be used to create shadows, further adding the suggestion of space and volume. Without shadows the sphere is floating in space. Lighter changes in value are also used at the far right edges of the sphere to suggest that light is being reflected back from a surface.

Why does the sphere with shading work to represent volume and space? The shadow matches the shape of the sphere and the shadow is off-centered to the left to match the direction of the “light source” which appears to be coming from the top-right. If the shadow were dead centered beneath the sphere, it wouldn’t match the lighting direction and would be less convincing.

Problems with drop-shadows or combining multiple photographs into one image are often caused by the light-source not matching the shading and shadow.

Psychology and Value?

Value and contrast can also be used to change the mood of an image or design. A good example is old vampire movies and how the underexposed and dark scenes created a sense of danger. The next time you watch a horror movie or a sci-fi movie with a bleak subject, notice how the use of darker values and contrast are applied throughout the movie to affect mood.

Lugosi, Bela (Dracula) - Horror by high contrast

From the very beginning of the movie the titles will often use value as a technique to set the mood for the audience. It wouldn’t be a good idea to use that technique when trying to create an advertisement for laundry detergent.

Another time to avoid using many darker values is when creating a presentation for a lecture, since excessive use can lead to a cranky and disinterested audience. An audience can actually be encouraged to pay more attention by slightly tweaking images to create higher contrast (just don’t go overboard).

On the flip side, value can be used to create a more soothing and relaxed effect. Look for this technique in television programming that is targeted to calming viewers.

As The World Turns - Happiness by low contrast

Some instructional, gardening, home-oriented, and “feel-good” shows tone down the contrast, especially the extreme lights and darks.

Value is just one of the basics for creating good design and modifying images.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Drawing Architecture and Atmosphere

After a individual expedition through the New Town of Edinburgh, whilst sketching some arbitrary buildings and parks, we gathered at the Waverley Train Station to practise our drawing skills.

Our lecturer, Stephen Hunter (what's in a name), urged us to look for architectural objects of interest and 'catching' the atmosphere of the Station on our paper.

This is what came out.... outch, not a very successful attempt.

First drawing of architecture and atmosphere at Waverley Station.

Room for improvement on Saturday following.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Live Drawing for Painting

This is about the closest you can get to being an artist... drawing a live model!

First live drawing by Willem van Heemstra (inspired...)

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Volley Bottle

My main interest is of course filmmaking. So on the Wednesdays I am with a group of about six people to practice our skills of the white-screen.

We have a
group assignment, which will be about a Barbershop and Student discounts. One of the shots we have planned is presented below.

"Sirs" Barbershop - film location

I had to sit in the chair and get a haircut just to be able to ask the manager, Walter, if we could shoot inside his shop. Fortunately, he agreed to our proposal. We will be recording on Sunday 30st of October at "Sirs"!

My individual assignment is to do with (beer) bottle caps...
If you look into the subject matter, as I have, Art and Bottle Caps are befriended (see

Bottle Caps in Art, Turtle by Philip Lamb

My script is to have beer bottles play their caps as if a volleyball player plays a ball. So beers left and right of the net and caps flying across. POP !


More to come on Volley Bottle soon...

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Who Framed My Flower

Building a sculpture out of plaster requires a firm frame, made out of chicken wire and metal threads.

For my sculpture, in the shape of a flower-bud, I have made a frame about the size that would fit under a chair. In addition, I bended metal threads to shape the ice-skaters.

Wire frame of sculpture, ice-skater in front.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Creation by De(con)struction

Our outline for today's Tapestry class stated the following:

"Deconstruction can take many forms but there are lots of things which are Health and Safety issues and which you are not allowed to do at College."

How sad, no fires, boiled plastics, or shrunk jerry-cans...

Still I had to meet the learning objectives; to combine research, and investigation with growing technical expertise; widen the conceptual approach through experimentation. To have explored the possibilities of destroying something in one sense and recreating something else afresh from the elements that result.

It said it... destroying!

So out I went and bought a 2 Pound (after negotiation) Wall clock at Pound Savers.

Wall clock suited for demolition

And after opening the packaging and cutting it to pieces I would create ... a fan.

Wall fan ;o)

What's next...

Any volunteers?

Friday, October 14, 2005

Public Toilet Photo Album

Today we made our own photo albums to fit our self-developed pictures into. Mine has tiles on the cover and a photo-minded toilet figure.

Cover of Public Toilet Photo Album

Inside of Public Toilet Photo Album

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Public Pictures
This is going to be a busy day, since we will have to get our photo's printed at the best quality possible. Our Photography class fitted in two darkrooms and we were taught the techniques of black & white photo printing.

Process of photo printing following soon...

And the nominees are....

Public Toilets by Willem van Heemstra ;o)

The first series I took at Neilson Park Public Toilets in Haddington, prize winner for the cleanest loo (=toilet) 2005.

Sue and Ann, Public Toilet Attendants

The second series I took at the Public Toilet (Gents !) near the Royal Mile in Edinburgh in contrast.

The day following we will mount the photo's to cardboard pages for our hand-made photo album, as proof of four days of hard work in Photography.