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Welcoming Daybreak with Maxfield Parrish

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Today, I'm fulfilling another reader request, this time for America's most-reproduced artist, Maxfield Parrish (1870-1966). Readers Hoya, Nerak, Vanessa, and Johnny Cat all asked for "Feel Art Again" coverage of the prolific illustrator whose colorful works are so well-known that there's even a color—Parrish blue—named after him. So, a little more about the man and "Daybreak," his 1922 masterpiece that he referred to as his "great painting."

1. While his colors may be famous, Frederick Maxfield Parrish started out working in black and white. His lengthy illustration career began with one commission: to illustrate Mother Goose in Prose, an 1897 work by L. Frank Baum. The book actually launched both men's careers, since it was Baum's very first.

2. Parrish had several tricks for creating his unique paintings and illustrations. For his landscapes, which he began in 1931, he usually built models of the landscapes and tested several lighting setups. Once he determined the best view, he would photograph the set-up to use as the basis for the painting. He was able to accurately depict the flow of geometrically patterned clothing by photographing someone (usually himself) draped in a large piece of cloth featuring the pattern in stark black and white. The photo would be made into a transparency and then projected onto the canvas for Parrish to trace and fill in the black portions with graphite. Color-wise, he mentally assessed the color components of each work and then painted them separately, separating each layer of color with varnish. And finally, to add depth, Parrish would layer cut-out objects or figures onto canvases, covering them with thick, clear glaze.

3. The naked figure in "Daybreak" is Parrish's youngest child, his daughter Jean; the reclining figure is Kitty Owen, the granddaughter of William Jennings Bryan.

4. Even in his own day, Parrish was immensely popular, the highest paid commercial artist and muralist in the U.S., illustrating for the best magazines as well as creating advertisements for the top brands. "Daybreak" was commissioned in 1920 for the sole purpose of reproduction, to be distributed to the American public as a color lithographic print. It went on to be the most reproduced painting in American history. One 1925 survey estimated that as many as 1 in every 4 households had a "Daybreak" print on its wall. It has outsold both Andy Warhol's "Campbell's Soup Cans" and Leonardo da Vinci's "Last Supper." The original was purchased in 2006 at a Christie's auction for $7.6 million, a Parrish record.

5. Parrish's second child of four, his son Maxfield Parrish Jr., made significant contributions to the creation of the first self-developing camera at the Polaroid Corporation.

6. Norman Rockwell, an American illustrator revered in his own right, once said of Parrish, "When I was in art school I admired him. He was one of my gods."

A (slightly) larger version of "Daybreak" is available here.

Fans of Maxfield Parrish should check out The Knave of Hearts and The Arabian Nights, both of which he illustrated, as well as Alma M. Gilbert's essay Maxfield Parrish: Master of Make-Believe.

Current Exhibits featuring "Feel Art Again" artists:
Frida Kahlo (San Francisco: June 14 - Sept. 28, 2008)
Alphonse Mucha (Madrid: through Aug. 31, 2008)
The Glass Experience, feat. Dale Chihuly (Chicago: through Sept. 1, 2008)
The Power of Place, feat. Maxfield Parrish (Vermont: through Oct. 26, 2008)

'Feel Art Again' appears every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. E-mail us at feelartagain@gmail.com with details on current art exhibits or suggestions of artists to cover.

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Opening Ceremony
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These $425 Jeans Can Turn Into Jorts
May 19, 2017
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Opening Ceremony

Modular clothing used to consist of something simple, like a reversible jacket. Today, it’s a $425 pair of detachable jeans.

Apparel retailer Opening Ceremony recently debuted a pair of “2 in 1 Y/Project” trousers that look fairly peculiar. The legs are held to the crotch by a pair of loops, creating a disjointed C-3PO effect. Undo the loops and you can now remove the legs entirely, leaving a pair of jean shorts in their wake. The result goes from this:

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Opening Ceremony

To this:

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Opening Ceremony

The company also offers a slightly different cut with button tabs in black for $460. If these aren’t audacious enough for you, the Y/Project line includes jumpsuits with removable legs and garter-equipped jeans.

[h/t Mashable]

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This First-Grade Math Problem Is Stumping the Internet
May 17, 2017
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If you’ve ever fantasized about how much easier life would be if you could go back to elementary school, this math problem may give you second thoughts. The question first appeared on a web forum, Mashable reports, and after recently resurfacing, it’s been perplexing adults across social media.

According to the original poster AlmondShell, the bonus question was given to primary one, or first grade students, in Singapore. It instructs readers to “study the number pattern” and “fill in the missing numbers.” The puzzle, which comprises five numbers and four empty circles waiting to be filled in, comes with no further explanation.

Some forum members commented with their best guesses, while others expressed disbelief that this was a question on a kid’s exam. Commenter karrotguy illustrates one possible answer: Instead of looking for complex math equations, they saw that the figure in the middle circle (three) equals the amount of double-digit numbers in the surrounding quadrants (18, 10, 12). They filled out the puzzle accordingly.

A similar problem can be found on the blog of math enthusiast G.R. Burgin. His solution, which uses simple algebra, gets a little more complicated.

The math tests given to 6- and 7-year-olds in other parts of the world aren’t much easier. If your brain isn’t too worn out after the last one, check out this maddening problem involving trains assigned to students in the UK.

[h/t Mashable]

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