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Musicerende Engel

Research - Stealing from the museum

My method to steal and copy from the museum requires patience and perfection. The work I chose is called Musicerende Engel and was created by Jan Cornelisz Vermeyen in 1545.
It is a relatively small print and was made possible through a combination of etching and engraving. Below I will invent a step by step tutorial on how to copy a piece like this:

  1. Measure the work of art and note down these measurements
  2. Take a flat photo with a suitable camera
  3. Accurately print a photo copy with the correct measurements
  4. Research the paper and tools used to create the work
  5. Acquire a light box and put the photo in it
  6. Carefully trace to copy the style of the work on your selected paper

The aim of this method is to be realistic as it provides a simple and low budget do-it-yourself strategy to copy printed sketches like the Musicerende Engel even though it may not be completely accurate.
It is designed for people like me who do not have access to etching or engraving tools or lack the experience to do so. After doing some research I have found that it is indeed possible to make your own cheap tracing light box.
I will illustrate this with some photo examples below of homemade light boxes as pictures explain more than a thousand words. Click to enlarge.

Light box 1.jpg Light box 2.jpg Light box 4.jpg

Research - The idea of beauty

As a 2D illustrator I am mainly intrigued by 2D works as well. Upon entering a department in the museum that was filled to the brim with traditional and rather old sketches, one of them stood out to me in particular.
A small framed work, next to many bigger drawings caught my attention in the corner of my eye. It was this work by Jan Cornelisz Vermeyen that I observed and pondered about. Despite being a colourless sketch, the idea was clear.
I noticed instantly how something about this representation of an angel felt off to me. One would normally think that this lady is an ordinary woman and not a heavenly creature until you pay closer attention and notice the little wings behind her and her halo.
People back then had different standards for beauty than our society does now and what better to represent beauty than through an angel? This lead me to do research into the meaning behind beauty and what affects people to think differently about this definition.
What changed in our history and why? Is there a way for me to emphasize that beauty is subjective in my copy and reproduction? Concluding this, my research question is the following: What causes our ideal of beauty to change?

Research - The process

Starting my research, the first thing I did was look up tons of pictures of how we view beautiful women now compared to beautiful women back then.
Popular models and works of art alike indicate what we consider beautiful as beauty is often not only represented through real people, but also art such as the many famous paintings of Venus.


Women have become skinnier throughout time. Back during the Rennaisance, being chubby was considered good as a sign of wealth. There had also not been any works before featuring darker skinned women (Benton & DiYanni 2014).
In fact, the woman to the right in the above example is transgender. Another thing you would not have seen back in the 16th century or during the Renaissance. Other features that have become more prominent in our age is that women
have larger breasts and behinds even though we are trying to celebrate diversity whilst slowly progressing towards it. The faces of models have become sharper also and less rounded. There is more make-up and less blush and long hair is common.
When I started sketching the copy, I took over the Renaissance features and art style of the Musicerende Engel. As I progressed, I had to think of a way to transform it practically and realized that through the same techniques that Jan Cornelisz
Vermeyen used, it would not be possible to transform the angel. Thus I came up with the idea to import my sketch copy into Photoshop and transform her from there by creating tools and brushes that are alike to etching and engraving.
This full transformation can be followed below in the practice part of this page. I attempted to implement the most prominent differences between the features of beauty that I have found through my research into the final transformation.
Here are some things I have learned from this course:

  • How etching and engraving works
  • How to edit in Photoshop
  • What beauty is and why or how it changed
  • How to HTML code a Wiki page
  • Where I stand as an autonomous artist

Beauty1.jpg Beauty2.jpg

Research - Images we had to bring

Handpicked some of my favourites. These images are all relevant to my chosen work.

Imagee 1.jpg Imagee 2.jpg Imagee 7.jpg

Imagee 5.jpg Imagee 6.jpg Imagee 4.jpg

Research - Statement (500 words)

My craft is closest related to 2D art and 2D artists were given many new tools and ways to continue their creative endeavors with the coming of the new age.
Living in this digital age brought forth a new generation of digital artists utilizing art programs on computers such as Photoshop for both 2D and 3D art. Over the course of years
my interest in these digital programs has increased as well. It is because they create rooms for autonomous artists to pursue new markets and look for new opportunities such as the movie
or video game industry. So I have also tested the waters and tried out many of these programs next to traditional sketching because I was so interested. When I picked this practice, I had already
hoped and thought about ways to apply my own interest and knowledge to the upcoming assignment. This is why I tried my best to make a digital copy of the Musicerende Engel to my own interpretations.

Artists tend to share similar goals. Two goals I see frequently are that artists desire to change the world through their works or share their works for people to simply enjoy. The former are related to social workers
as they intend to provoke thought or address political issues through their art. I major in illustration because I was and am more interested in the latter. I intend to use my craft to create things people enjoy.
Be that alone or in a team. The past year we have been taught to specialize more and more and think about what we actually want to aim for too or achieve with our major. Because of this, I have been working hard
on subjects such as character design or environmental painting because my preference lies within working together with the video game industry for example to bring collaborative works for a consumer to enjoy.
To shed more light on this, other things I have looked into are music album designs, book designs, or movie designs and all of these fields are in need of digital artists. Without the digitalization of our current
society, some of these products such as video games or 3D movies would not exist right now. To join this market means to learn their tools and that is what I am doing as of now.

I make art to create worlds where words would not do them enough justice. It is not enough to describe our imaginations so we have to draw them.
These creations and interpretations of our mind are to be put out there for others because sharing is important and keeping your creativity to yourself would not benefit anyone in this world.


Practice - Copy and transformation

Angel take two.png Transformation step 1.png Transformation step 2.png Transformation step 3.png Final transformation.png
The first sketch to the left is the copy and reproduction. The final sketch to the right is the contemporary transformation positioned in a new context.
Utilizing digital tools such as Photoshop enabled me to transform the woman step by step and illustrate how beauty is in the eye of the beholder as none of these women are objectively prettier.
I chose to work this way because working traditionally on paper would not have let me slowly edit and transform the features of beauty. By transforming these features from the Renaissance beauty
ideals into our beauty ideals of now I am presenting the work in a new contemporary digital context that I wished to breathe new meaning and life into: beauty is a matter of taste (Reber, Schwarz & Winkielman 2004).

At first I was merely going to create a copy and transformation (the first and last sketch). However after a feedback session I realized that the choice of beauty is not binary. It is not a
matter of picking this or that. By carrying the viewer through the full transformation and demonstrating a fade in effect during my presentation I desire to emphasize the change and choice one has.

Practice - Final reflection document (1000 words)

The two practices I have followed are the social practice and autonomous practice. For the social practice, I developed an ambitious project linked to the New Earth and Open Design courses I followed.
Our EGO to ECO assignment was to think of how to use our bodies to improve the ecosystem which is a very broad question. I came with the idea to implement environment friendly plants into our homes with
beneficial traits such as filtering air. This has been done before, so I took it a step further and wanted to research genetics. It is possible to put a bunch of good traits together via genetic engineering to create
one super plant. As an illustrator, I also had to make it visually and practically appealing because the problem with putting enough leaves in your room to purify air means you would have to fill your room with plants.
Therefore, I came with the idea of the wall of leaves, as in the concept image I photoshopped below.


For the autonomous practice, digital craft, I took and transformed a sketch of an angel from the early Renaissance. I researched the idea of beauty as it spoke to me. Our assignment was to create a copy of a chosen work from the Boijmans museum using digital technologies and a transformation of the same piece positioned in a new, contemporary context. Again, this was done by making a sketch in the same style and importing this copy to Photoshop to digitally edit the Renaissance features of beauty into our own standards of the contemporary age to deliver the message that beauty is subjective as neither is objectively prettier. My super plant project qualifies as a social project because the aim of the social practice is to improve the world through creative minds. Problems it addresses can both be on an ecological and social or political scale. By inventing a super plant like mine, we sleep better, we feel better in our homes, and this is especially essential for countries where the air outside is so bad that opening a window does not improve your poor air situation. My transformed angel qualifies as an autonomous project because the autonomous practice relates to organizing your own position and taking initiative beneficial to your own interests and strengths in the art world. Getting assigned a project like this pushes you to think where you want to go yourself and where your craft lies in relation to this digital age. I digitalized this angel because of my interest in digital art programs as I desire to learn these for the new market opportunities mentioned in my statement before and that is a personal, autonomous goal.

Important to mention is that I could not attend the Studium Generale as I am a Double Degree student and I had to miss that week in order to do my exams at the Erasmus University. So for this part, I cannot make links. However, I did learn quite a few things from my practices. Regarding the social practice, I have learned what it meant to make an open design and applied this to my own project. In open designs, people can contribute freely. You share solutions and feedback to make something grand together. I have also learned that executing such projects would require you to work with professionals from different areas such as biologists and you must be convincing enough to prove that your project is worth developing. For the autonomous practice, I learned what etching and engraving is and how it works. I also learned to think more critically about my own position in the autonomous market and once more, contemplate what I want to achieve out of myself, what it means to be autonomous nowadays. Two designers whose work relate to my social project are Antony Evans and Kamal Meattle. Antony Evans made a campaign for plants to emit natural lighting without using electricity. Kamal Meattle held a TED talk that educated people on how to grow their own air purifying plant. Two designers whose work relate to my autonomous project are both illustrators that get hired for their own strengths. Kristen Plescow and Nesskain are both autonomous, freelance 2D designers.

My final statement is that I wish to continue with the autonomous practice. It fits my own strengths as an illustrator because I need to keep learning how to work autonomously if I want to stick to being a freelance artist. My base for freelance art has already been somewhat established and it is also where my interests lie because I want to keep searching for the new markets mentioned in my earlier statement. I received feedback orally from both practices. For the social practice, my instructor liked and encouraged my choice to opt for an open design and told me it was indeed a fresh idea to install a plant wall. However, she also said this would obviously require searching for professionals that can help me genetically engineer and that would be very complicated which I agree with. While helping people on a social level is a wholesome goal that I like too, it will not artistically advance me as much because I am not working on my craft in 2D art. My feedback from the autonomous practice mainly consisted of tips and criticism about my way of presenting as the final product was not fully clear. The story and message were convincing, but the actual material and product lacked from the presentation. I need to think about what I want to achieve out of my presentations. It is something I have struggled with before. It has not steered me away from my decision to continue with this practice though because it is a learning process for me. It simply means that for next time I will have something to work on once more. This project challenged me to think about my own position and I do want to learn more about how to work autonomously.

References (APA style)

Benton, J. R. and DiYanni, R. (2014). Arts and Culture: An Introduction to the Humanities, Volume II.
Edwards, V. (n.d.). A Look Back At Beauty Through History. Retrieved from
Petty, A. (n.d.). How women's 'perfect' body types changed throughout history. Retrieved from
Reber, R., Schwarz, N. and Winkielman, P. (2004). Processing fluency and aesthetic pleasure: is beauty in the perceiver's processing experience?