A Little Rant

The new Website is up and running although there will be small changes I’m sure. I was Using Adobe Muse and I liked the application, unfortunately, Adobe Decided that the application did not have a future and stopped supporting it. I have gone back to my old standby Dreamweaver but it has taken me a few weeks to relearn it. I’m really annoyed with Adobe because I started using Muse and liked it. Now I’m back to Dreamweaver. I like Dreamweaver and Adobe has improved it immensely and it is the better, more powerful application. I’m just annoyed that I spent time learning a new application and liked it.

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Nature Is A Little Grey

I like bright colours but I notice when I’m looking at a landscape that the colours are a little on the grey side. When I was working as a wedding photographer I noticed that I always turned up the colour saturation when I was adjusting the pictures; actually, I had to be careful about that because there is a fine line between a great photo and an oversaturated one. It’s not quit so important with painting but I still like bright colours and the grey tone I perceive in nature is important for the reality illusion. For a painting to elicit the Reality Illusion the colours and shades need to be a little on the grey side to match a colour as seen in nature. This may just be my perception of an image but it does make sense because it’s unlikely that a natural colour would be what we think of as a pure saturated colour. They do exist in nature, a butterfly’s wings for example, but that has more to do with how the colours are produced.

I Don’t Know Much About Art

So, you say I’m an artist (thank you) how can I not know much about art? I know that I like to paint which is a good thing since I have time on my hands. I know that things attract me because of their surface or the light falling on them or the way the light changes as it falls on them. I know that I see things in an image that I think I can improve to make a better image. A painting occasionally creates an illusion of reality or starts to look real, which is the thing that really motivates me and makes me want to paint more because wonder of wonders it sometimes happens to my own work. I don’t know how this happens or even why it happens, but I know I like it when it does and I hope it happens for others when they view my paintings.

I wanted to take art classes in school but unfortunately, I was reasonably good in sciences and so was pushed in that direction. I don’t hold a grudge against any of my teachers or counsellors because everyone knows that there is no money in art, although I don’t believe this I can understand why most people would. I’m not convinced that there is much to know about art. My enjoyment of it and need to do it has little or nothing to do with what I know about art. I don’t have much to say about my own art and I have less to say about anyone else’s art so I question what anyone says when they talk about art. Some people think they see deep meaning in art but there certainly isn’t any deep meaning to my own. Other artists might have an underlying meaning embodied in their art and how they do it but with my own I can only say that I do it because I like doing it. I might not like the final result; in fact, I often don’t but I enjoy the process. So, I don’t think I know much about art and I’m unconvinced that there is anything more to know; the best I have come up with so far is, try it and if you enjoy it, you are an expert.

Art Artistry and Talent

It is my opinion that anyone can draw. Apparently, Neanderthals did not or could not draw, at least we haven’t found any paintings on cave walls that we can attribute to them. For some reason we humans have a propensity for art but I’ve had a difficult time understanding how that might benefit us. I’ve mentioned my ideas of what I call the Reality Illusion and there could be some survival benefit to that so, our propensity for art may at one time, have had some beneficial effects for our survival.

If we imagine and see a potential hazard then we might be able to avoid that hazard. Creating a three-dimensional mental construct of our surroundings might give us a better chance of navigating the world around us without mishap, so perhaps a better chance of survival. If we imagine a Lion in the grass and there turns out to be one, then we might have a fraction of a second longer to climb a tree. This has little or nothing to do with my present art work but it’s definitely interesting and may have something to do with the reality illusion.

You might notice that I have set aside the portrait I was working on and replaced it with a simpler work. The portrait was progressing very slowly since I was making up most of it. The present project should be a bit of a holiday and should progress very quickly. I will revisit the portrait again later.

Colour doesn’t matter

Silly statement because of course colour matters; doesn’t it?

I’m presently working on a portrait and the subject will have leather boots. I’m putting in some highlights on the boots and it occurred to me that this is reflective light so what colour should it be? I’m making this image up as I go along. The reflected light could come from anywhere so the colour of the reflected light doesn’t really mater so long as it loosely fits my 3D visualization of what the scene should look like. The reflected light could come from anywhere both behind and in front of the subject of the portrait. The problem is believability, so the reflection needs to be of a quality and colour that is believable.

Favourite Museums

My favourite museum is the Metropolitan in New York. I have only been there a couple of times but my wife has been there several times. My most favourite thing about the Metropolitan is that I often get lost and it takes some time to get out, but I see something wonderful in the process. Some years ago, my wife and I were searching for the Arms and Armour exhibit and couldn’t find it. To be accurate I was looking for the exhibit, she kindly followed along. Looking around I was sure that we had walked by this particular area before, so I decided it was time to ask directions. I approached a staff member and asked where I could find the Arms and Armour exhibit; he pointed to a door not ten feet away.

Museums can be wonderful places. I like sculpture, but I am not a sculptor. We’ve just returned from a trip to Washington DC, and a look at the museums on the mall, including some Smithsonian museums. We saw a wonderful sculpture called the Veiled Nun. I don’t understand how you can see through marble but I could definitely see through the veil.

 

https://www.nga.gov/collection/art-object-page.176446.html

Do Something

I am stuck, with the painting on my easel. This has happened to me many times, both in this painting and others over the years. I remember one of my teachers saying “Do something” during one of these ‘stuck’ moments. She told me to put a large dollop of red onto the part of my painting that was giving me trouble. Ridiculous thing to do but I did it anyway and suddenly I began to see other problems with the painting and I was no longer stuck.

I don’t believe that red has anything to do with this phenomenon, but colour may have. The spot of contrasting colour seems to change the way I perceive the painting and opens other possibilities while allowing me to see problems that I couldn’t before. I don’t believe the colour red has anything to do with it so long as it’s a contrasting colour, white or black doesn’t seem to have the same affect. I’ve also tried various other colours but I don’t see any benefit so long as the colour is significantly different to others in the painting. I no longer use this contrasting colour trick, but I do follow the advice to simply DO SOMETHING and as soon as I do, my perception changes and other problems seem to leap off the painting.

Reactions

This morning I am very conflicted. I need to paint but I don’t want to. I’m considering stopping work on the painting presently on my easel because I’ve been thinking about the next painting. I have a photograph of my daughter’s apartment green space and I want to paint it. I thought I’d take one last look at the present portrait and then I’m done with it. I started to check measurements with a divider and low and behold the eyes are way to far apart. I was sure I checked that before but apparently not.

So, it’s been a couple of days and the portrait is suddenly starting to look better and I’m seeing other things that need work so I’m not ready to give up on it yet.

Mood In Painting

I was looking for some inspiration for a blog post and I came across a blog giving advise on ‘How to create MOOD in your painting’. I thought about this for a while and I’ve come to the conclusion that my paintings don’t contain ‘mood’. It’s not that I don’t want them to but It’s not something I think about when I paint. I see something and it strikes me as something I would like to paint, how it makes me feel, or some other deeper meaning, doesn’t enter into it. I don’t see a problem with deep meaning in a painting, but for me it is enough that I want to paint it.

Some paintings do create ‘mood’ for an observer, but I believe that is from the observer not the artist, so an artist has very little control over it. Some colours are associated with mood like warm fall colours or blue water. Most water isn’t blue but most people (including me) think it should be. There is a lot of water in my paintings and most of it is blue to some extent. I don’t think of it as ‘mood’ it’s just the way it is or that I think it should be.

So what good is ‘Mood’ in paintings? If someone is looking for a painting with a certain mood and the association is water or snow or fall foliage then they will find it, but I don’t believe that this is something an artist has much control over. If you like to paint blue paintings of subjects that appear cold then customers who want that look will find you. If you like warm coloured pictures then those customers looking for that might buy your paintings. If you want to sell more paintings then first paint all sorts of things to find a niche then paint more of what sells

I’m inclined to say that a good artist will be able to convey their ‘mood’ in their work, but I think it’s unlikely that even a good artist will be able to create that ‘mood’ on demand. Other than with a choice of subject and perhaps pallet I don’t think I could produce a happy or sad painting. I hope that if I am happy or sad it would be reflected in my paintings but I will likely be completely unaware of it.

Tips To Bring Your Paintings to Life

I have a theory that I call the reality illusion, this is not my theory exclusively and I didn’t come up with the idea although I might be able to lay claim to the name. When you look at a painting it sometimes starts to appear real or life-like. This is different from hyper-reality or photo-realistic painting since it can appear in paintings that are clearly not photo-realistic. I’ve noticed this occasionally in my paintings but I became more aware of it recently while painting some tree fungus (sounds sooooo appealing). I wanted the foreground to stand out so I started with the background; I painted for awhile then went to make tea and when I got back the background seemed to jump off the canvas and appear life-like. It certainly wasn’t detail that made this happen because there was very little of it in this background; so, what was it that precipitated the illusion? The other thing I noticed was that the illusion wasn’t like just looking at reality. The painting seemed magically real, even though there was little attempt to render the background realistically; it was only a background. Sadly, as I continued painting and finishing the painting the illusion decreased. Clearly, I wasn’t looking at reality but I got the impression that I was looking through a window at reality; quite disconcerting. Recently the fad in photography has been to make the photo appear to be a photo of a small-scale model; this is done through reducing the depth of field to a point that it appears that the image was taken through a macro lens. I think there is some connection to what I’m describing as the reality illusion.

I have read that we form a 3-dimensional construct in our mind of how reality around us should look, if the painting vaguely matches this construct then it sometimes starts to appear real. This is not a new idea and it probably has some evolutionary advantages. If what we are seeing doesn’t fit our internal construct because of a Lion in the grass then when, or if, a lion jumps out we might have a little more time to climb the nearest tree and live to further propagate our genes. It’s certainly not obvious since we rarely actually see a lion in the grass; something that we observe simply doesn’t seem right and we watch until the lion jumps out of the grass or we just move away to feel better. Apparently, the amount of information required to formulate the 3D construct is huge, and if the flow of information slows down our brain simply starts to make it up. So, we have this 3-D construct and it needs information, and we try to match it up with what we are seeing regardless if it exactly matches or not. I suspect that what we actually see rarely matches our 3D construct but we try hard to match it up anyway, hence the illusion. If our 3D construct is close then what we are looking at starts to appear real and this may have something to do with the phenomenon of Deja-vu because if what we are seeing doesn’t exactly match our construct then we start making it up, and how better to make it up than to use past constructs.

I think that the illusion has more to do with shades and colour than it does with detail and I think this is because we are trying to match our 3D construct using our peripheral vision. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111115133233.htm
A very detailed image can certainly posses the illusion, but I don’t think detail is the ultimate cause. I think the tonal quality of the image has more to do with the illusion, and this may have quite a bit to do with the low bandwidth connection between our eyes and brain. If high bandwidth is expensive (biologically) then I understand why the connection between our eyes and brain has so little bandwidth. The trade-off is the loss of being able to differentiate between absolute shades of a colour. This example demonstrates this perfectly:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/02/27/12-fascinating-optical-illusions-show-how-color-can-trick-the-eye/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.8f42c413da8c
This is really unfortunate because I would love to be able to mix a colour that I new absolutely was the exact colour and shade of some aspect of the scene I am looking at. This ambiguity of colour and tone can be an advantage to me, as an artist; it makes it possible to induce the reality illusion with a very few strokes of my brush, unfortunately I don’t know exactly how to do this, so I’m stuck with being surprised if and when the illusion appears.

I’ve settled on a system that seems to maximise my chances of the reality illusion appearing. I decide where the darkest areas of my image resides and there I use black, but sparingly. I use white for highlights that a photographer would refer to as ‘blown out’. I treat my painting in the same way I look at a photo; dark shadows are as black as the photo paper or paint allows and highlights are as light as the paper or paint allows. These areas, both black and white, have no discernible detail so in those areas I might need to add, or make up, some detail. I do this until I just can’t think of anything else to add; hopefully the reality illusion is now in full swing.

Typically, I pick a spot (sometimes the spot picks itself) and I work on it for a half-hour or so. Every spot needs some work so it’s not hard to find one and it really doesn’t matter because If I do this enough then the reality illusion usually starts. When I’m deciding on colours I choose bright ones rather than browns or greys, but if the colour is a shadow I muddy it up a little and it seems to work.

So, the best advise I can give is to keep painting until it starts to look right. That is what I do and it generally works.

 

 

 

 

 

Vaguely related links

https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn9633-calculating-the-speed-of-sight

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncanny_valley