Monthly Archives: October 2016

How Much Do You Know About…Paint?

October 14, 2016

With Professor Brauer’s upcoming Sunday lectures about Degas, plus the MFA’s Degas exhibition we thought a quiz on was pertinent!

1. The color purple became associated with royalty because the pigment was:

A. From a far-away location.
B. Restricted to royalty.
C. Expensive.

2. What substance produced purple pigment during Roman times?

A. Verbena.
B. Mollusks.
C. Stones.

3. Who is credited with the discovery that you can mix two different paint colors to produce a third?

A. Plato.
B. Lao-Tzu.
C. Hammurabi.

4. In the Middle Ages, manuscripts were decorated with paint made from egg yolks and:

A. Feathers.
B. Stones.
C. Snails.

5. Among the Aztecs, what pigment color was regarded as more valuable than gold?

A. Yellow.
B. Blue.
C. Red.

6. How many years did it take Michelangelo to paint the Sistine Chapel?

A. 4.
B. 15.
C. 8.

7. Who developed the color wheel?

A. Thomas Edison.
B. Sir Isaac Newton.
C. George Eastman.

8. What kind of paint does not dry?

A. Acrylic.
B. Encaustic.
C. Oil.

9. What color paint is the most calming?

A. Pink.
B. Blue.
C. White.


1. B. The color purple became associated with royalty because at one time only aristocrats could afford the expensive pigment

2. B. During Roman times, it took 4 million crushed mollusk shells to create one pound of purple pigment.

3. A. The Greek philosopher Plato is credited with the discovery that you can mix two different paint colors together to produce a third color.

4. B. In the Middle Ages, manuscripts were “illuminated” with paint made from ground semi-precious stones and egg yolks.

5. C. Among the Aztecs, red pigmented paint was regarded as more valuable than gold.

6. A. It took Michelangelo only four years to paint the famous ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the 1500s, but it took 20 years to restore it in the late 1900s.

7. B. The “color wheel” is older than the United States. It was developed by Sir Issac Newton in 1706.

8. C. Oil paints don’t dry. Instead they harden due to oxidation, usually in about two weeks, and are ready to be varnished in roughly six months. However, sometimes it takes years for an oil painting to fully harden!

9. A. Pink is the palliative color. Apparently, it suppresses anger and anxiety due to its calming effect. That is why prisons and mental health care institutions paint their walls pink to control the behavior of those out-of-control prisoners and patients.

Alida Webb To Retire After 35 Years: Jana Whitby is Appointed as New Executive Director

October 14, 2016

janaalidaWe welcome Jana Whitby to the Women’s Institute as the fourth director in our sixty-five year history.  She brings technological savvy, great people skills, and love for the  Women’s Institute to her job.  She has been a board member for the last six years, chairman of Lecture Luncheon for three years, and an enthusiastic student since 2007.  As pleased as we are to welcome Jana, we are saddened to say good bye to Alida Webb.  Alida’s contributions to our continuing education program have been immeasurable.  Her farewell letter to us is as follows:

“For 35 years it has been my privilege and  honor to serve as the director of the Women’s Institute.  It has been a fulfilling and successful career for me.  I have been fortunate to have been a part of many wonderful things that have taken place over the span of these years:  to see the WI grow from a small house on Westgate to the planning and building of a larger facility on Avalon that has given us the ability to serve many more of our community; to have received my “second education” at the feet of many exemplary professors and instructors; to have met and come to know many, many wonderful students who have come through our doorways; and to have served with many fine boards of directors.

I am not saying a permanent “good bye” as I will now see you in class and in a seat at a table at Lecture Luncheon.  I thank all of you and the board for this continued opportunity to satisfy my curiosity in all things intellectual and cultural.”

David E. Brauer Deconstructs Degas in Upcoming Sunday Lectures

October 14, 2016

This month, the spotlight shines on artist Edgar Degas (1834-1917), as our very own Professor Brauer is devoting two upcoming Sunday Lectures to this Impressionist artist on October 23rd and October 30th. At the same time, Houston’s Museum of Fine Arts is kicking off its exclusive exhibition, “Degas: A New Vision”. We visited with Brauer to find out more.

WIH Reporter: What can you tell us about your upcoming lectures and the MFA exhibition?

Brauer: The confluence of events is a wonderful coincidence.The Museum of Fine Arts is the only museum in the U.S. that is exhibiting Degas’ work representing the beginning to the end of his career. Not since the 1988 retrospective Degas at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City has the artist’s career been so fully presented.

WIH Reporter: What would surprise us to know about Degas?

Brauer: When people think of Degas, they associate him with racehorses and ballet dancers. This exhibition shows a more complex multi-dimensional side of Degas through painting,drawings, sculpture, and photos. He was a very private man, and kept a lot of his paintings to himself. He was he first great artist to question why he should have any exhibitions, since, in his view, the public didn’t understand his art anyway. His success meant that he didn’t have to please anyone,and he could created art for his own edification.

WIH Reporter: What will you be concentrating on your lectures?

Brauer: Right now, I am teaching my 12-week class,”The Legacy of French Art 1850 to 1940″, and we are covering quite a bit about Degas. In the two Sunday lectures, I will be focusing on Degas even more, discussing the relationship between his paintings and photography, and the concentration on women in his work after 1870.

WIH Reporter: What was the relationship towards women in his art?

Brauer: He was the only one of the Impressionists to come to America. He visited New Orleans where he had family. When he came back to France, he began to focus on certain types of women: shop girls, laundresses, ballet dancers – all considered nearly prostitutes as reflected in popular novels at the time.

WIH Reporter: Is there a sympathy in his art for these women?

Brauer Actually, he looked upon them with an objective, analytical eye.

WIH Reporter: What was significant about the Impressionists in general, and Degas specifically, that set them apart from the art that had gone before?

Brauer:  The Impressionists, starting in 1860, represented the first secular art in Western tradition. This art, unlike religious art, does not have a back story. It represented a new kind of freedom, as artists were liberated from the earlier, religious subjects, and could create their own narrative. In the upcoming lectures, I will be discussing what we see in the creations of Degas.

WIH Reporter: Your next class, “The Legacy of Spanish Painting, 1600-1827“, will be starting on October 18th. does this class have any relation to the classes and lectures on French artists?

Brauer: Absolutely. It was one of the reasons I decided to teach six weeks of Spanish art, because Velazquez and Goya were huge influences on the Impressionists – Manet most of all – as he lived for a while in Spain. Degas also came under this influence. WIH Reporter: What will you be teaching in the Spring? Brauer: I am really looking forward to teaching “The Legacy of Russian Art” in the Spring.

To enroll in David Brauer’s Sunday lectures, click here. To enroll in his upcoming classes, click here.