Dark and light

I’ve noticed that my reality illusion doesn’t usually appear until I add dark and light areas. One of the last things I do with a painting is add black to the darkest areas and white to the lightest areas. The human eye sees a larger dynamic range than most film or digital images. Digital images can sometimes see into the infrared and specialised film and cameras can see far into the Infrared and Ultraviolet range. Film registers about 5 stops of light in the visual spectrum, and photographic prints show about 3. The print range has more to do with paper and ink, a projected image is capable of much greater range.

When I say a stop that is a photographic ‘stop’. A ‘stop’ on a camera is generally a factor of 2, so 5 stops is about 64 times the amount of light between the darkest and lightest areas. However, your eye is also capable of changing its aperture, so depending on who you talk to and how they are parsing the data you can get into the millions. The Lumen is an exact measurement of light but not a measure of colour. I don’t know what the relationship is between a lumen and millions of colours. A photo print with a full 3 stops of dynamic range looks pretty good. I believe a painting with today’s pigments is better than a photo print but likely not as good as your computer monitor. Your monitor might actually be able to show millions of colours; a photographic print can not, but it can fool your brain. Your eye can see and your brain can process millions of colours but not equally in all parts of the spectrum; you are much better at detecting shades of green than red for example.

As an artist the way light is measured or how the units are named is immaterial. What matters is how it looks. I’m interested in how light is measured and how a photographic image is rendered but it has nothing to do with me as an artist. It’s likely possible to mix millions of colours with today’s paints but all I need to do is generally match the art with what I am seeing or what I mentally think I should see, and it starts to look real. As long as I can match what I’m painting to what I’m seeing, then knowing exactly how this happens is immaterial. Interesting but immaterial.



A little ghost story

When I watch a video purporting to be of a ghost I think of this (there are lots of these videos on the Web). Some years ago, my wife-to-be and I were living in an apartment, one day I made some tea and set it on our coffee table to steep. The tea pot was a very nice clear glass tea pot and the coffee table had a glass top. It’s a nice coffee table that we still have although we are looking for a new one; it’s long because it sits in front of our sofa and spans it from one end to the other, so it’s proving difficult to find a replacement.

As I was sitting waiting for the tea to steep, I was shocked when the tea pot began to slowly move towards me. It looked surprisingly like someone, or something, was pushing it, since the motion was not completely smooth as it stuttered slightly across the surface of the coffee table. I just froze and watched it move toward me. There was no discernible sound, just the steady movement of the teapot. This so alarmed me that I don’t think I said anything to my wife-to-be.

After thinking carefully about this, and doing a number of experiments, this is what I decided. The tea pot was a little wet and when placed on the glass table top made an air tight seal. The air between the pot and glass table top heated up, because the tea was hot, and began to lift up the whole pot. At first, I thought this was just completely impossible since a full teapot is fairly heavy but the amount of air trapped between the teapot and glass tabletop was small and the area of the bottom of the pot fairly large. I got my level and checked the table and it did have a very slight slope in the right direction. It was this that made me think I was on to something although the slope was completely unnoticeable without the level. I did a number of experiments and found that the tea had to have been just made so the water was hot and the bottom of the teapot had to be slightly wet. There were a number of variables so it didn’t have the same result every time but it worked most of the time.

I was watching a video of a child who appears to talk to someone not in the room and then something on the table tray moved. This certainly isn’t exactly the same as my moving teapot but it’s possible to put something down in such a way that it is unbalanced and small vibrations can make it appear that the item seems to move by itself when it’s sliding to a new stable location. Small movements of items, apparently without good reason, can be frightening but can also have a reasonable explanation. In this particular case the video presenter concluded that the child was talking to a spirit that couldn’t be seen on the video and the item on the tray moved because the ghost moved it.


Worn Down Brushes

I see images on the Web of worn-down brushes where the only thing left is a few small bristles. I am incredibly jealous of this since my brushes are generally clean and largely intact, if a little stained.

I just can’t paint that much.

I try to tell myself that those artists using such decrepit brushes must be starving to the point that they just can’t afford any new brushes but I don’t think that is the case. Modern brushes last longer and are made of better materials than they were 60 or 100 years ago and are often less expensive. Paint has gotten easier to clean up and pigments are better and more varied. Maybe the brushes were inherited and are very old or perhaps children got hold of them and they sat uncleaned for years.

I’ll keep telling myself that.


As you can see from this image of the work on my easel, I am in the process of altering one area of it. I don’t really know why, other than it doesn’t look right. It doesn’t exactly look wrong but it isn’t right either. So, what was wrong about it? I don’t really know. I think it was because the leaves in that area appeared a little too dense and to fix it I’ve decided I need to start over in that area.

Does everyone else see it in the same way? I have wondered about this for some time now. I have my wife and one or both of my two daughters critique my work at various times during the process. My daughters usually agree with me but my wife is the wild card and as such often provides the most useful criticism.

Buying Art

Should you buy it?

Buy it because you love it. This is likely the most important reason to shell out money for art. The art could shock you or just make you think. The most shocking piece of art I’ve ever seen is a sculpture called the Veiled Nun by Giuseppe Croff. Marble is not transparent but I think I can see through the veil in this sculpture.

Do not overextend yourself to buy art, because art should enhance your life not make it more difficult. Don’t feel guilty about not buying art. Many artists are definitely struggling but that doesn’t mean that you should too. Take the opportunity of recommending an artist that you like to one of your affluent friends.


I don’t put frames on my paintings because I don’t know where they might be hung. Since I don’t think that a painting should match the room that it’s hung in; the frame acts as both a separator and a method of matching the painting to the room. I noticed a couple of frames the other day that were a little different, a simple black or dark brown frame combined with a relatively thick white inner frame. The picture was an average size (small for me), on a relatively deep rust yellow wall. This type of frame is likely quite common but I first noticed it with this photo.

I thought it looked great but I’m still not going to put any of my paintings in frame, but it’s nice to be able to give suggestions to a customer. The inner frame could be a colour that would match the painting or room but it’s a good idea to just leave it white so that it acts as a separator between the painting and the room, so then the painting could be hung in any room. The wide aspect of the frame offers more separation and should be more suitable to different room decor.



Art Forums

One of the recommendations for promoting art work that I have read many times is to participate in art forums. I have looked often at various forums asking questions that I might answer. It had to be something that I thought I could answer with a relevant comment and add to the conversation, this has been a discouraging search. It is clear to me that most people have no idea what an artist might be able to do for them, most questions are just requests for an artist to do work for a small or non-existent fee, that the person making the request could easily do themselves.

People generally don’t think they are capable of anything to do with art or drawing and are unwilling to make the attempt. I think that people have been told many times that they can’t draw but I’m still very curious as to how they ended up with the idea that it had no value. Years of experience have given me the impression that the only way to make most people value the finished product is to deny them those products. On several occasions I’ve finally said “so, you do it”, which they proceeded to do with good results. On some occasions I’ve cleaned up the result and made it look a little more professional, but the idea was theirs. I think that on these occasions they placed more value on the finished product than they would have if I had done it alone, but they were often unwilling to take any credit for it. This reinforces my idea that everyone is an artist.

Now it’s possible that the finished drawing, done by a customer, may be unsophisticated or childish in some ways, but that is just a question of experience. Children are outrageously creative but don’t have the experience to finish the drawing. Adults can be equally creative but are unwilling to appear unsophisticated or childish. I’ve had some long conversations with clients who had a very good understanding about what their customers wanted but had very little idea of how to interpret this in a visual way. This is the expertise that an artist brings to the table.

Capital Punishment

My initial intention was to send this to the Chagall Committee but I have been unable to find a mailing address for it. So, I have sent it to Fake or Fortune at the BBC.

I just watched the Fake or Fortune episode on Chagall. I’m disappointed that any government would give an organisation the right to destroy property, authentic or otherwise. The painting is property and was paid for by the buyer so the destruction is tantamount to theft. I’m against capital punishment and it seems to me that this decision to destroy the painting amounts to the same thing. I know it’s difficult to equate taking a life to the destruction of a piece of property but in this case, it feels appropriate.

Let’s say the Chagall is a forgery. It was sold by the forger and bought by the owner in good faith. If the present owner now wants to sell it then the organisation is welcome to say they don’t accept it and consider it a forgery. So, the artwork isn’t worth as much as it would be if it were deemed authentic. But if the organisation destroys it then whatever the owner paid for it should be reimbursed by the organisation; if they don’t pay then it’s theft.

If the organisation destroys the art then there is no chance to retest the art to ensure that a mistake has not been made. I believe that the destruction is simply a ruse by the organisation to ensure that a mistake never comes to light and the organisation is never found libel for the cost of the art. It’s a little insurance, and to say that they are doing it for the artist, art in general or art lovers is disingenuous. This is reprehensible behavior and far worse than any forgery.

As an artist I paint what I want in the way that I want. Should anyone decide to forge my work I would consider it flattering. Not necessarily by the forger but rather by the individual who might buy it. I might feel I had to do something about it if it were taking money out of my pocket, but in the case of the Chagall work he is long dead and would not receive any benefit or harm. I paint because I enjoy painting, I will never receive any benefit from future sales and I can’t see any reason why someone would consider destroying any work, fake or otherwise, that purported to be by me.

I understand that the art market is monetarily huge but none of that money goes to the artist or their families. These organisations that decide on the validity of art and fabricate the right to destroy that art, are themselves thieves. I don’t begrudge their decision to act as experts but I take great umbrage at their deciding that they have a right to destroy any work that they consider fake. What if they are wrong?

What gives anyone the right to believe they can destroy the art of others? Just because the work is believed to be, or even proven to be fake, it is still valued and by destroying the work they insult and devalue every other artist’s work. It takes talent and expertise to create great works of art but it also takes great talent and expertise to copy that work. I would like to think it is the talent and expertise that is valued.

Art Marketing

There is no pricing on my Website because I am not in a position at the moment where I can sell paintings, nevertheless I have settled on a pricing method that should work. I add together the vertical and horizontal dimensions of a painting and multiply it by a number that will produce a price. I got this from another artist’s website some years ago. You could also multiply the vertical and horizontal measurements then multiply by a price. This method ties the price to the size of the painting because I believe most buyers think that the larger a painting is, the more it should cost. This isn’t really valid, but if the people with the money believe it, then who am I to argue.

Many of my paintings are reasonably large but I am limited by the size of my studio. Some of these paintings have taken a very long time to finish, and some have completed very quickly, so I can’t say that a fair price has anything to do with how long the work takes to complete. I am somewhat mystified by how much, or how little, people think is a fair price but the system I have adopted at least gives my pricing some consistency which is important because some buyers expect it. Always try to give the customer what they want.

I have started a Blog; this Blog. I was recommended doing this because it would increase the traffic to my Website, although I can’t say that I have noticed. As a graphic designer I’ve designed a few Websites and I’m interested in coding, although I didn’t want to start blogging. Turns out that I have a lot of opinions and actually enjoy writing about them. I try to write my opinions in a way that helps other artists but I make no promises. Blogging is simple, costs nothing and provides me with a soapbox; I make it a habit to read art marketing blogs and articles that I can agree or disagree with then write about it in my blog, so there is no shortage of topics. As a result, I recommend blogging to other artists. If you are just not a writer and you would rather be painting; then paint and forget about blogging.

Thank you for reading this Blog. If you have any interest in my Website then drop in at mdyerart.com.

Reality Illusion

So again with the Reality Illusion. I’m presently working on Rear Window. The Reality Illusion has come and gone a couple of times at this point and I was starting to be concerned that it had gone for good. But I was working on the window frames (just cleaning them up a little) and I darkened the windows themselves.  The Reality Illusion showed up suddenly all over the painting, not just on the windows. When I say ‘suddenly’ I mean the next day at the beginning of the next painting session. I don’t understand how this works but I can twist my regular theory to explain it somewhat. The truth is ‘I don’t understand it’ but I like to tell people that I do because I like it and believe that people think an artist should know.