I did a number of tasks to educate myself today. The first was that I listened to an art history podcast about the painting "The Gleaners".
It was just a short synopsis of the painting. The podcast first described what gleaning is (when a landowner doesn't completely clear the field after the harvest, but leaves a bit of the field untilled, or at least not picked up, so that the poor can gather some food). Then it described the painting itself. It noted that the lines of the women mirrored that of the hay mounds in the background, and that the women represented maiden, mother and crone. It talked about how the woman on the left (the maiden) was the most fashionable for a peasant, and held her wheat so that she didn't have to stand up and bend down again; the woman in the middle (mother) had a practical method of holding her wheat in her apron, although it meant that she would have to stand up and bend down again to get the wheat and put it in her apron; and the woman on the right (crone) was having difficulty bending down. There is also the repetition of square shapes around the figures' heads (their kerchiefs) and in the stance of the middle woman.
After that I drew. I had to return the drawing from imagination book to the library, so I focused on the drawing from observation book. The assignment was to draw a green pepper, first from memory, and then from observation. I didn't have a green pepper so I used an apple. It was hard not to look at the author's drawing of an apple (probably why he assigned a green pepper) when I was drawing from memory. As you can imagine, my drawing from memory was not terribly impressive, but my drawing from observation was significantly better.
It was a pretty lumpy apple.
Next I studied the spinning book. The next chapter will actually involve spinning, but this one weighed the pros and cons of spinning with a spindle vs. a spinning wheel. Some types of spinning wheels allow you to draft the fibers in different ways, so that you can make a wide variety of yarns. Some are faster than spinning on a spindle. Spindles are better for very fine yarn, are easier on the hands, and are more portable, so you can spin just about anywhere. I think my spindle's great (although I'm planning on buying a smaller one for finer yarns) but I don't have any plans to buy a spinning wheel right now. They're not bad, they just aren't what's going to work for me right now.
Finally, I worked on my embroidery. I'm almost finished my sampler, and I worked on a particularly tricky stitch today: shaded satin stitch. I didn't get the shading quite right so it still looks like I did the darker color in a straight line (it was actually jagged). But I'm just learning so I'm not going to sweat it. Here is a photo, and you can see some of the other circles with other stitches that I've done.
The shaded satin stitch is the one in the middle of the hoop.