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Testing Memory By Drawing Milhouse Van Houten

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Illustrator Kieran Gabriel loves The Simpsons, so he's asking friends, peers, and Internet strangers to draw Milhouse Van Houten from memory. Without the help of any reference, artists are expected to recreate the pop icon using only the image they see in their head. The results will appear in the new book, Milhouse From Memory.

Submissions are still being accepted, but you can see a few examples that other illustrators did:

Not to be left out, I decided to try one too. I'm not submitting it officially, so I broke the rules and colored it with the highlighters in my office:

Milhouse has a pretty simple design with some very distinct features, but a lot of the artists made crucial mistakes (not to mention the one guy who didn't even know what a Milhouse was). While everyone can remember the glasses and signature eyebrows, the facial structure and proportions are way off. Often the artists will insert their own artistic styles into the drawing in place of the iconic Simpsons house style. The essence is there, but there's something wrong. So what's going on with these?

Various studies have shown that we don't see as much as we think we do. We often only pay attention to what's important, so things we aren't necessarily focusing on can go unnoticed (this video is a good illustration). Known as selective attention, people miss stimuli when they are focused on something else. In the case of Milhouse, it's possible that we notice the distinctive features but we don't pay attention to the nitty-gritty.

Another example had researchers approach strangers on the street and ask for directions. As the stranger relayed the directions, movers with a door would come in between the pair. While the view was obstructed, a new researcher would replace the old one. Surprisingly, 50% of the test subjects did not notice a change of person when the door moved away, likely because they were focused on the task at hand: the directions.

Another theory is that we experience "attentional saturation," which is the result of the brain ignoring ubiquitous things because it encounters them so often. A recent study at UCLA explored the phenomenon by asking students (mostly Apple users) to draw the Apple logo. Despite the ubiquity of the bitten apple, most subjects had trouble drawing it. Often, the students would draw extra stems or put the bite in the wrong place. The students see the logo so often, researchers believe, that their brains have learned to ignore it.

Our inability to draw cartoon characters without a reference could be because we aren't scrutinizing the shapes while we watch television. We're likely focused on the plot and jokes, instead of how each object is drawn. We may have the memory of what something looks like, but we don't have the memory of how to reconstruct it.

That said, this doesn't mean you don't remember what Milhouse looks like. You can test your skill and submit your attempt here. The book goes out in May, so you better draw quickly!

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Kehinde Wiley Studio, Inc., Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0
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presidents
Barack Obama Taps Kehinde Wiley to Paint His Official Presidential Portrait
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Kehinde Wiley
Kehinde Wiley Studio, Inc., Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

Kehinde Wiley, an American artist known for his grand portraits of African-American subjects, has painted Michael Jackson, Ice-T, and The Notorious B.I.G. in his work. Now the artist will have the honor of adding Barack Obama to that list. According to the Smithsonian, the former president has selected Wiley to paint his official presidential portrait, which will hang in the National Portrait Gallery.

Wiley’s portraits typically depict black people in powerful poses. Sometimes he models his work after classic paintings, as was the case with "Napoleon Leading the Army Over the Alps.” The subjects are often dressed in hip-hop-style clothing and placed against decorative backdrops.

Portrait by Kehinde Wiley
"Le Roi a la Chasse"
Kehinde Wiley, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 3.0

Smithsonian also announced that Baltimore-based artist Amy Sherald has been chosen by former first lady Michelle Obama to paint her portrait for the gallery. Like Wiley, Sherald uses her work to challenge stereotypes of African-Americans in art.

“The Portrait Gallery is absolutely delighted that Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald have agreed to create the official portraits of our former president and first lady,” Kim Sajet, director of the National Portrait Gallery, said in a press release. “Both have achieved enormous success as artists, but even more, they make art that reflects the power and potential of portraiture in the 21st century.”

The tradition of the president and first lady posing for portraits for the National Portrait Gallery dates back to George H.W. Bush. Both Wiley’s and Sherald’s pieces will be revealed in early 2018 as permanent additions to the gallery in Washington, D.C.

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Made.com
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Art
What the Homes of the Future Will Look Like, According to Kids
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Made.com

Ask a futurist what the house of tomorrow will feature and she might mention automatic appliances and robot assistants. Ask a kid the same question and you’ll get answers that are slightly more creative, but not altogether impractical. That’s what Made.com discovered when they launched Homes of the Future, a project that had kids draw illustrations of futuristic homes that served as the basis for professional 3D renderings.

According to Co.Design, the UK-based furniture retailer recruited children ages 4 to 12 to submit their architectural ideas. The doodles, sketched in pen, marker, and colored pencil, showcase the grade-schoolers' imaginations. Paired with each picture is concept art made with a 3D illustrator that shows what the homes might look like in the real world.

The designs range from colorful and whimsical to coldly realistic. In one blueprint, drawn by Ameen, age 10, a neighborhood of rainbow buildings and flowers float among the clouds. Another sketch by Ellis, age 7, shows a “home built to last” with titanium, bricks, a steel roof, and bulletproof windows. Some kids seemed less concerned with durability than they were with the tastiness of the infrastructure. Cherry-flavored bricks, candy windows, and a giant jelly slide were just some of the features built into the future homes. Sustainability was also a major theme, with solar panels appearing on two of the houses.

Check out the original artwork and the 3D versions of their ideas below.

House of the future drawn by kid.

House of the future drawn by kid.

House of the future drawn by kid.

House of the future.

House of the future.

House of the future.

House of the future.

House of the future.

House of the future.

House of the future.

[h/t Co.Design]

All images courtesy of Made.com.

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