Sir Frederic William Burton: The Accidental Lefty

Sir Frederic William Burton (1816-1900) was an Irish painter who worked almost exclusively in watercolors and chalks, but his works, such as The Meeting on the Turret Stairs (1864), sometimes look as though they were done in oils.

Burton began perfecting his technique at the age of 10 and, at age 16, exhibited a piece at the Royal Hibernian Academy. Just five years later, Burton exhibited three portraits at the Academy and was subsequently elected an associate of the group. Today, several of Burton's pieces—including The Aran Fisherman’s Drowned Child (1841) and The Meeting on the Turret Stairs (1864)—hang in the National Gallery of Ireland.

Though he found success at an early age and his artistic talent was clearly innate, painting wasn't exactly an easy task for Burton. As a result of a childhood accident, Burton's right arm had been paralyzed, forcing him to become left-handed and paint exclusively with his left hand (which was not his naturally dominant hand). Additionally, Burton's suffered from poor eyesight—so much so that he frequently had to take extended breaks from his work.

3. In 1874, Burton was appointed director of London's National Gallery. With the acceptance of the position, Burton stopped painting, leaving his "A Venetian Lady" unfinished. According to most sources, Burton never painted again, instead focusing on the Gallery until he retired in 1894. (He was succeeded by Sir Edward Poynter.)

4. Burton is considered to be responsible for many of the National Gallery's most important purchases in the 19th century, including works by Leonardo da Vinci, Sanzio "Raphael" Raffaello, Diego Velazquez, William Hogarth, and Johannes Vermeer. All in all, Burton made more than 500 acquisitions for the Gallery's collection.

5. Burton was an extremely popular painter, receiving "greater praise from The Times than any painter during his lifetime." According to one source, there were "few Irish celebrities of the period he did not paint or draw;" his subjects included George Eliot. In addition to being popular with the public, the media, and celebrities, Burton was also honored by Trinity College and the monarchy. He was knighted in 1884 and received an honorary doctorate of law from Trinity five years later, in 1889.

Turn Your Favorite Photos Into Works of Art With Google’s Art App

Edvard Munch's "The Scream"
Edvard Munch's "The Scream"
Edvard Munch, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

If your local art museum is closed, a new app from Google Arts & Culture will make the photos in your camera roll worthy of gallery consideration. As Gizmodo reports, the Art Transfer feature uses artificial intelligence to reimagine any image you upload in the style of a famous artist.

If you've already downloaded Arts & Culture for Android or iOS, hit the camera icon at the bottom of the app and select Art Transfer. From here, you can either snap a photo or choose an existing picture saved on your phone. Google then gives you a variety of art styles to choose from. You can transform your cat into Edvard Munch's The Scream, for example, or turn your brunch pic from last month into a piece of Yayoi Kusama pop art.

The feature doesn't just apply filters; it uses machine learning to edit the colors, textures, and even shapes in the image you upload.

Dog image inspired by Man from Naples.
Michele Debczak/Mental Floss, Google Arts & Culture

Pizza picture inspired by The Scream.
Michele Debczak/Mental Floss, Google Arts & Culture

Two years ago, Google Arts & Culture rolled out a similar feature that matched users' selfies to their art lookalikes. The difference with this one is that instead of showing you existing art, it creates an entirely new image by combining your photo with a famous artwork.

You can download Arts & Culture for free today from the App Store or Google Play. After having fun with the new feature, you can use the app to virtually explore landmarks, museums, and other cultural institutions from the comfort of your home.

[h/t Gizmodo]

Kids Can Join Children's Book Author Mo Willems for Daily "Lunch Doodles" on YouTube

Screenshot via YouTube
Screenshot via YouTube

For children interested in taking drawing lessons, there are few better teachers than Mo Willems. The bestselling author and illustrator has been charming young readers for years with his Pigeon picture book series. Now, from the Kennedy Center, where he's currently the artist-in-residence, Willems is hosting daily "Lunch Doodles" videos that viewers can take part in wherever they are. New lessons are posted to the Kennedy Center's YouTube channel each weekday at 1:00 p.m. EST.

With the novel coronavirus outbreak closing schools across the country, many kids are now expected to continue their education from home. For the next several weeks, Willems will be sharing his time and talents with bored kids (and their overworked parents) in the form of "Lunch Doodles" episodes that last anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes. In the videos, Willems demonstrates drawing techniques, shares insights into his process, and encourages kids to come up with stories to go along with their creations.

"With millions of learners attempting to grow and educate themselves in new circumstances, I have decided to invite everyone into my studio once a day for the next few weeks," Willems writes for the center's blog. "Grab some paper and pencils, pens, or crayons. We are going to doodle together and explore ways of writing and making."

If kids don't want to doodle during lunch, the videos will remain on YouTube for them to tune in at any time. The Kennedy Center is also publishing downloadable activity pages to go with each episode on its website [PDF]. For more ways to entertain children in quarantine or isolation, check out these livestreams from zoos, cultural institutions, and celebrities.