The Europeana Blog has a short bit on Jan Vermeer, the Dutch artist best known for his work Girl with a Pearl Earring.

Vermeer was known for working slowly and with great care, use of bright colors and sometimes expensive pigments, with a preference for cornflower blue and yellow. He is renowned for his masterly treatment and use of light in his work.

Despite spectacular ability, Vermeer created a relatively small number of works; today, fewer than three dozen paintings are attributed to him today.

With such talent, one wonders why Vermeer didn’t turn out more paintings. The Europeana Blog speculates that it could possibly be from a lack of time: He was the head of an artists’ guild, an art deal and innkeeper, and father of 10 children.

Indeed, the latter fact alone would likely have impeded his ability to get much work done unless he had a private studio some distance from his home.

Today, on the rare occasion Vermeer’s works come up for sale, they go for immense sums; when Young Woman Seated at a Virginal sold at auction in 2004 it fetched $30 million.

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How fast has the so-called “kudzu bug” moved across the Southeast over the past two years? Since arriving in the Western Hemisphere by way of Atlanta from Asia in 2009, the insect has spread from nine Georgia counties to across at least 230 counties in four states.

It’s now found in all 46 South Carolina counties, more than 140 counties in Georgia, more than 40 North Carolina counties, along with parts of Alabama, and entomologists have been astounded by its rapid movement, according to Southeast Farm Press.

The bugs, known in most parts of the world as bean plataspids, look like boxy brown ladybugs and emit a foul-smelling secretion when threatened. As a result, it’s often as easy to locate them by smell as by sight when they occur in large numbers.

While they are known to eat kudzu, they can also ravage soybeans, along with other legumes, according to the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension.

Clemson University Entomologist Jeremy Greene says the insects, often mistakenly referred to as stink bugs, are becoming a bigger problem in agriculture as they spread throughout the region.

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