Above: Myself reflected in a bubble, April 27, 2018
“Have you watched the agitated surface of a rapid stream? It displays an immense variety of lights and darks, more baffling than anything else in natural phenomena. It’s movement is so quick, the colors of the reflection objects are so diverse, as to render it almost impossible to portray its interlacing and intermingling forms… My present aim is to encourage the student to observe, and he will reap ample reward in the many surprises of this fascinating research.”
Ch. 10, “Reflections,” from Landscape Painting in Oil Colour”
by Sir Alfred East
I read an essay on how to paint reflections by noted landscape painter Alfred East for the 57th volume of the Nonfiction Collection. Like many of the short pieces I have chosen to read for LibriVox, this pick started not with subject in mind but rather with a walk in our nearby forest preserve that suggested a topic to explore.
On this particular day, I noticed that the current flowing around one of the rocks was creating giant bubbles as it hit an adjacent boulder. The process was mesmerizing, and I took some photos.
When I uploaded the bubble photos from my phone to my computer, I realized for the first time that every bubble, large or small, contained a miniature reflection of me, taking the photograph. I decided to use one of these quirky photos for the CD cover of Volume 57.
But then I had a dilemma. The cover needed a tie-in. What could I read that related to reflections in bubbles!?? For inspiration, I watched a BBC documentary on the physics of bubbles. This led to the writings of a woman scientist, Agnes Pockels (1862-1935), who, in 1891, published a pioneering paper on how to measure the surface tension of water; a possible read but a bit technical for me.
Then I remembered the chapter on Reflections in a book I had previously recorded for LibriVox, Landscape Painting. It is my most viewed book ( 257,802 times as of October, 2019). Alfred East’s artistic sensibility fitted in perfectly with my feelings about reflective bubbles, and I enjoyed revisiting his chapter for this volume of the Nonfiction Collection.
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