Researching

Learning and education require a lot of one thing: researching. You know, endlessly toiling through databases with interesting if less-than-accurate results to your search inquiry, combing the bookshelves of your schools library, sometimes googling, when that is “okay”. It all comes down to finding out information. For artists, this process continues past education into every idea we want to explore for art creation.

Recently, I re-examined Dutch Style Still Life in context to a painting I did last Winter. Feel free to page down on this blog to read it. Now I am re-researching (is that a word?) sources for my interpretation of the old masters works. I thought there would be tons of good stuff for me to find and read, alas this doesn’t seem to be the case, or perhaps I am not asking the right questions. I am using the Lane Library Research Database which accesses a variety of on-line scholarly databases. So far searches for: Dutch Style Still Life, Dutch Golden Age Painting and Vermeer have produced less relevant material then simply going to Wikipedia and typing in Dutch Style Still Life (which brings up a detailed page with a long list of cited material).

I have to admit I am surprised! What is it that I am doing wrong? When I had Physical Anthropology last term I think I spent 20 minutes researching Orangutans before I found a plethora of interesting and relevant articles on exactly what I wanted to learn on the red haired ape. I suppose another go at it, only this time I will try a more specific search parameter “Meaning in Dutch Style Still Life”… No results found.

Well needless to say, this is a frustrating process. Maybe if I move on to finding a resource in a blog. Aha!

http://levinrodriguez.blogspot.com/2011/12/following-willem-kalfs-lead.html

So, I found a blog entry, and it seems the blogger agrees with me for the most part, great! Okay, now to get that pesky database to work for me. I have tried simpler: Dutch painting, and more complicated listing out a painting in particular: Still Life with a Chinese Porcelain Jar, Willem Kalf (and others). I found reviews on shows at the Met, or reviews on books written on topics and I have found “no results found”. It appears to me, if I want to get another opinion on my interpretation of Dutch Style Still Life I am going to have to walk into the library and peruse the shelves.

One incredibly useful website I found in my attempt to re-research my topic was this site for citing: http://www.easybib.com . Just type in the information for what you want to cite and it will automatically create it for you in MLA or APA format. Golden!

Rodriguez, Levin. “Following Willem Kalf’s Lead….” Weblog post. The Berkmeyer Project. 16 Dec. 2010. Web. 8 Feb. 2012. <http://levinrodriguez.blogspot.com/2011/12/following-willem-kalfs-lead.html&gt;.

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7 thoughts on “Researching”

  1. Krislyn,
    I had similar frustrations researching Native Americans. What I found out is that I was searching the wrong database for my subject. I called the LCC Library and a librarian walked me through finding and accessing the proper database. Wha laa!
    By the way, thanks for the link to easybib. What a great find.
    Eve

  2. Interesting post on the art of researching–and too true. There must be tons of info out there, but you are right that finding your way in may be tedious and depend on digging up details and following the thread. I have found that to be the case.

    Perhaps the word *style* might be dropped from your search + try searching on Dutch artists names alone–or did you try that already?

    There is a well know contemporary artist, Glenn Brown, who uses old masters paintings as a basis for his paintings. You could look him up and read which artists he uses as reference.

    Or perhaps research specific museum collections?

    Can I share my article on an artist I know who re-stages ancient paintings:
    New York: Photographic Artist Ventiko–Entering Her Version of Reality
    http://vasa-project.com/blog/2011/05/new-york-photographic-artist-ventiko-entering-her-version-of-reality/

    Best wishes with your research!

    1. Hi Marie! Thanks for the ideas, I am going to try the museum idea. I will also look up Brown, that sounds particularly interesting and just what I am looking for. Please feel free to share your articles, they are always welcome.

  3. Hi Krislyndillard,

    Great article! You certainly have a knack for getting info down in a way that is interesting to your audience as well as informative. May I make a suggestion, though? I found your second and last sentences of the first paragraph kind of hard to read. The second sentence might benefit from some periods instead of commas. Breaking it up a bit would make it easier to read. Also, what do you mean by “…this process continues past education into every idea”? Which process? Research? And what do you mean it “continues into every idea”? It sounds interesting, but I don’t understand. Maybe you could elaborate. Otherwise, thank you for all that wonderful information.

  4. Krislyn- thanks for the info about your process, and I’m so librarianstoked to see others jump in with some suggestions. Here are a few from me (we can look together in class more too).

    Use the search box at the top of our Research Databases page (which searches across multiple databases).

    I tried a search for:
    dutch AND golden age AND paint*
    the “AND” lets the database know that the words can appear in the results in different spots- not all next to each other. The * is a wildcard. In the example above, you’re telling the database to look for the words paint, painting, paintings, paints etc.
    Search seemed fairly relevant. You could also try adding AND vermeer
    I also tried:
    dutch AND still life AND paint*
    with some success. The key is that the database will not interpret your search terms. It will not look for synonyms. It won’t ignore any of the words that you include. It will look for exactly the words that you use exactly as you tell it to.

    I hear you about wikipedia- but remember that we’re looking for different types of info here. Wikipedia is great, fast place for an overview and/or background info. It is often my first stop before I do database searching so that I can gather good search terms/ideas, relevant names, related ideas, etc. I also use it to follow the references that the wikipedia article cites.

    Scholarly articles are much more specific. They’re not the best place to get an overview, they’re the next researching step.

    Hope these tricks help. I’m happy to look with you one on one too.

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