Category Archives: Art

Literate Your Art Blog Hop

For the second year in a row, I’ve participated in Kat Sloma’s Liberate Your Art postcard swap. Kat’s intention is for creators to share their art. It is a blast. It’s always a litte bit intimidated about sharing Myers

Here are the postcards I received:

From Nancy Jean:


From Susan in California:


From Debbie in the UK:


From Paul in Tennessee:


From Izzy in New Jersey , who participated with her sister & Mom:


And from Kat:


Check out other participants:

Travel Theme: Statues Take II

As I noted in my post on Friday, I thought of lots of options for Ailsa’s Travel Theme.   This one was the runner-up, so I thought I would post it today.

Stravinsky Fountain, Centre Pompidou, Paris

Stravinsky Fountain, Centre Pompidou, Paris

This is one of several sculptures in the Stravinsky Fountain in Paris.  Located adjacent to the Centre Pompidou, it is a colorful fountain containing the works of Jean Tinguely and Niki de Saint Phalle.   The first time I saw this about 14 years ago, I was surprised by the water in fountain.  I had expected it to be well cared for,  with clean, clear water and not moss-filled.  But, this is how the artists wanted the fountain.  You can read more about the sculpture here.  It’s a fun place to pause for a few moments on a stroll through Paris.


Travel Theme: Statues or…. Balzac!

Although I’ve always appreciated the work of painters, it’s only been in recent years that I’ve started appreciating the work of sculptors.  When I saw that Ailsa’s Travel Theme for the week was statues, in one second I knew what I wanted to post, though  in seconds two, three, four…ten, I thought of several others.

My husband and I have a this thing whenever one of us is in NYC without the other.  If we happen to go to MOMA, we text a picture of Rodin’s Monument to Balzac.  For years it was in the lobby, but has also been displayed in the garden.

Here is one of the casts of Rodin’s famous sculpture, located in the gardens of Musée Rodin (one of my favorite places in Paris). It was quite controversial when Rodin unveiled his plaster study. His commission for the work was cancelled and the statue was never cast during Rodin’s lifetime. Today, it is considered to be one of the first works of modern sculpture.

Balzac, Rodin, Garden, Paris

Monument to Balzac, Musée Rodin

In January, while vacationing in SW Florida, on one of the rare days we dragged ourselves off the beach, we made an excursion to the Naples Botanical Garden.  It was much chillier than we had anticipated and T quickly decided that he wanted to cut short his walk and wait inside in the warmth.  With camera in hand and lots of pretty things to shoot, I pretended to not care about the cold and wandered off towards Asian Garden where I wanted to take pictures of the Java-inspired ruins.

But, as I entered the gardens, I noticed that the groundskeepers were beginning to cover several plants to protect them from the predicted frost that evening.  With large Cristo-like sheeting, several plants and trees were shrouded.   Although I wondered what those trees were and what was hidden underneath, I couldn’t help but find the unintentional statues compelling to look at.

When I saw this one, I knew I had to take a picture.   I wasn’t anywhere near MOMA, but I immediately thought:  BALZAC!

Naples Botanical Garden,

Modern Sculpture?

A movie for photographers and artists (and scientists & inventors & the curious)

I highly recommend the recently released, thought-provoking, movie Tim’s Vermeer. When my husband suggested we go, I begrudgingly agreed, thinking that it would be a snooze-fest with pompous art historians and that it wouldn’t be an ideal way to spend one of the first sunny, Spring-like Saturdays of the year.  Wrong!

Produced by Penn & Teller (of course, that Penn & Teller), it is lively and engaging film about digital inventor Tim Jenison’s attempts to prove a theory that Vermeer painted his photo-realistic paintings using optics in a way that nobody else has before or since.  Jenison attempts to prove his theory by recreating a Vermeer — the bedazzling, light-filled The Music Lesson — using the same materials available to the Dutch painter. He ground his own pigments, made his own lenses following 17th century processes, and went to great lengths to recreate the studio setting for the painting.  The movie documents Jenison’s 5-year endeavor to study and replicate the physical items in the painting, even having a Dutch potter make him a replica water pitcher and recreating the Delft light conditions in his Texas warehouse studio by constructing a Dutch-style false building facade outside his studio to diffuse the light as it would have been diffused by neighboring buildings in Vermeer’s studio.

Most importantly, Jenison hit upon a solution to low-light issues with a camera obscura by building additional mirrors to re-invert the image and to brighten and focus it in order to paint.  This, in Jenison’s theory, is what Vermeer must have done with the camera obscura that separated his art from that of his peers.  It isn’t simply geometry, or a savant artistic ability, but a mechanical solution to recreating on canvas what is seen — and what is not so easily seen — by the human eye.

This film is a documentary but don’t expect it to be unbiased. There are a few comments by artist David Hockney and architect Phillip Steadman (both wrote scholarly works that prompted Jenison’s quest) that support Jenison’s theories, as well as comments that his theories will be rejected because of the “art establishment” looking down its collective nose at an outsider.  And they are right: art historians have been mostly silent or dismissive, Jonathan Jones in The Guardian even describing the documentary as “an art film for philistines“,  without addressing the counterarguments.

The film doesn’t really discuss alternative theories.  But, on some level, it goes beyond trying to prove Jenison’s theory.  Instead, this film can be seen as being more about Jenison’s obsession with trying to figure out how Vermeer created such realistic paintings 150 years before the invention of the camera than it is about trying to disprove or resolve century old questions definitively.  That may not have been director Teller’s vision, but as a viewer, I find it hard to walk away without thinking about the  relentless obsessive journey to prove what cannot be proven or wondering what sort of reception Jenison’s “discovery” will have in the art world in the long-term.

Jenison, Hockney and Steadman discuss in the film how one could never be sure whether Jenison has proved anything.   His idea that Vermeer could have used a camera obscura and additional lenses to refine the light can never be proven; it can only be a theory — with a demonstration that it is possible.   Hockney repeats several times in the film that paintings are documents, even Tim’s recreated copy of The Music Lesson.   As documents, all paintings — including Vermeer’s and Jenison’s —  are open for speculation and  interpretation.

I think it is important to recognize that Jenison never says that his painting is as good as Vermeer’s.   He never tries to put it up to a test to see if it could fool someone into thinking it is a Vermeer.   Even the painting’s name — Tim’s Music Lesson — suggests that he doesn’t think it is even a reputable copy of the artwork, simply a recreation of another’s work using the same hypothetical technique.   If you were an amateur — and admittedly not a very good one — what might you do with a work that you researched for four years and then spent another five months producing?  I think many would do what Tim Jenison did:  hang it in his bedroom, a sign of a personal accomplishment.

I think that this film raises many questions that it doesn’t attempt to resolve in a meaningful way.   Foremost is the issue of what is a “legitimate” use of technology in the making of art.  In Vermeer’s day it may have been a mechanical tool to recreate a scene. The film points out that the use of geometry for depicting the correct perspective in a painting, even though it is an acceptable technique,  is as much a tool as using a set of mirrors.  The film suggests that to be dismissive of the use of a “tool” is a bunch of BS — but in doing so they are as dismissive of the counterargument as the critics are of Tim’s theory.   Is the art world stuck into thinking that the use of a tool is “cheating”? What other tools might be considered inappropriate for the making of art?  Is it the same today, perhaps, of digital art?

The closing comments by Penn Jillette suggest an answer.  It is something that I will ponder for a long time: “Is Tim an artist? Or is he an inventor? That we even ask the question is the problem.”  This film has a lot to consider, especially for people interested in photography or digital art.

I highly recommend Tim’s Vermeer (website), even if — especially if  — you consider yourself a philistine — or a photographer, an artist, a culture enthusiast, a scientist, a technology geek….

Sunday Quote, 2013, Week 34, Ai Wei Wei

Names, Immemorial

Names, Immemorial

About this image:  Last month, on the closing day (glad I didn’t wait any longer!) I visited the exhibit Ai Wei Wei:  According to What? at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.   Ai Wei Wei is a conceptual artist and many of his works utilize traditional Chinese tools, materials and techniques.  At the same time, his work calls into question tradition, current culture, and who gets to decide what is valuable within one’s culture.  What makes something a relic?  A work of art?  Priceless?   All questions that you can’t help think about when you look at photographs of Wei Wei dropping — and, of course, shattering — a piece of Han dynasty pottery, or when you look at similar urns that have been dipped in paint, or had 21st century logos painted on them.  According to what?  Or to whom?  Who gets to decide what is art or culture?  It didn’t take long in the exhibit before you begin to realize why Ai Wei Wei is under constant surveillance by the Chinese government and has been beaten and imprisoned because of his work.

But ancient woodworking techniques and historical artifacts have little to do with the image above.   The most moving pieces in the exhibit were Ai Wei Wei’s reaction to the tragic loss of children, entrapped in their schools, in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.   Wei Wei collected 150 tons of rebar from the quake sites.  He also maintained a blog — until the Chinese government shut it down — listing the names of all of the children killed.  He collected over 5000 names and the list is not complete.    The bent and twisted rebar was straightened in his studio and an undulating sculptural work titled Straight has been made of this rebar.   The piles of rebar make their own landscape; a crooked rift in the middle echos the earthquake fault.   Accompanying Straight is a wall-length mural Names of Student Earthquake Victims Found by Citizen Investigation as well as an audio recording reciting the names of the children.  To say that the exhibit is haunting is an understatement.

I thought about this exhibit for many days after I visited. There was much more than what I have written about here.  I regretted that I saw it on closing day, because I would have liked to have returned to see it again.   (Heads up if you’re visiting Toronto soon:  this exhibit is at the  Art Gallery of Ontario through October 27.)  I cannot imagine the grief of losing one’s child.  That grief, repeated throughout a community, is overwhelming to think about.

I was looking through my iPhone photo gallery today, looking for pictures that I had snapped of things that were textural when I came upon the shots I took at the exhibit.  I was searching for an assignment that I was working on for the Beyond Beyond class that I am participating in.  I had been hoping to utilize portions of various photographs to create a texture to use in other photos.   I kept returning to the images of Straight and Names of Student Earthquake Victims.   I doubt that the texture I created will be used in other photographic work, but it seemed fitting to combine them with this quote by Wei Wei on names.   After layering the flower image with the texture, I added another layer of the names.  I can’t read one character of Chinese, but I still wanted the names of these children to be memorialized in my own, somewhat inept and limited way.   It seemed fitting to use an image of a water lily — a symbol of peace and enlightenment in some cultures, of grief, overcoming struggles and resurrection in others — as part of this work.  Nor could I ignore the quote by Wei Wei regarding the very humanness that is one’s name, just as I could not exclude the image of the names.

Say the names of your loved ones today.  Let the whispers of their names — their identities — be imbued with their goodness, their kindness, their virtues. Keep them safe in your thoughts even if we cannot always keep them safe in the world.


Water, Abstract, Orb,

What Once Was Water

18 Strings of Awesome

Last weekend we went to the exhibit Guitars: Roundups to Rockers at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art. There isn’t much point to reviewing an exhibit when you see it on the final weekend, but I will say that it was very interesting. It hadn’t been high on my to-do list, but we decided to go at the last-minute. I wish that we had gone earlier so that I could have persuaded more people to attend.

I was fascinated by the beauty and craftsmanship in the earlier guitars. I had no idea that they were so beautiful or that the shape was so varied. This particular guitar, an 18 string “harp guitar”, was made around the turn of the 20th century. I wish that I had heard someone play this. I imagine that it can produce beautiful music.

18 Strings of Awesome

18 Strings of Awesome

Photo taken with iPhone5 and Camera+. Image edited in Photoshop, with two textures by Kim Klassen: Music Lovin’ and Paperstained Music. Linking to Texture Tuesday at Kim Klassen Cafe.

Thanks for stopping by. Be sure to stop by on Thursday when I will have an announcement regarding a new feature at Four Deer Oak.

Stairway to the 4th Floor

Stairway to the 4th Floor

Stairway to the 4th Floor

I can’t hear, say or write the phrase “stairway to” anywhere without an earworm:

“There are two paths you can go by, but in the long run/There’s still time to change the road you’re on.”


“As we wind on down the road/our shadows taller than our souls”

If you are not of a certain age, you may need to listen very hard before the tune comes to you.

It isn’t a song I ever liked very much, but I can’t help but sing along when I hear it.   Regardless, I like the image anyway.  And it is a stairway.

Taken at the Indianapolis Museum of Art with an iPhone5, edited in Lightroom4.

Just Playing Around

I have two Easter Lilies on my dining room table, waiting for me to deliver them.  While I’m it makes me happy to give them away, and I think that they look pretty, I can’t wait to get them out of my house.   Why?  Because the smell of two of them is overwhelming!

That didn’t deter me, however, from taking the opportunity provided by some beautiful late-afternoon sunlight streaming in through the windows to take some snaps.  And, since I had just downloaded more iPhone apps to play with, this was the perfect time.  I was trying out both Camera Awesome and Camera +.  Awesome is free, + is not.   I’m not sure which one I like better, nor have I figured out whether they have the same features.

This particular shot was taken in Camera+.  After testing out many of the editing features — the usual iphone array of filters, presets and frames, I stuck with some basic edits for exposure and saturation.   I was pleased with the final product.   Then, I decided to experiment with another post-processing app I had downloaded:  Repix.   Think brushes.  Lots of brushes!   I tried nearly everyone available in the app.  Some I removed, some I left.   I don’t recall exactly what I kept, but it wasn’t until I was nearly finished that I discovered how to use the Erasure tool at a lower opacity and what awesomeness one can do with the “silk” brushes.  I was pleased with my final product — something that looked entirely different from the photograph that I shot.   I like the abstractness of this, yet it has enough definition (I think) that you can tell that it is a close-up of a flower.    Repix let me then open it in Instagram for posting.

I later brought it into Photoshop Elements.  Initially my intent was to simply add my copyright/signature, but I ended up playing with some additional filters.  It looks a little different, but I’m not sure which I like better.   I like the definition in the IG version; but I also like how the PSE version is more abstract.  I had applied the vignetting in Repix and it looks okay in the Instagram version, but it needs more smoothing in the PSE version.

Which to you prefer and why?   All feedback appreciated.

Instagram version

Easter Lily:  Instagram version


Easter Lily

Easter Lily

Frame in the PSE version is made from two layers of Kim Klassen’s texture kk_2303, with lots of adjustments to the saturation.



I’m Solar-Powered …. and need a bit of Spring

9.25 was the number yesterday.   9.25 inches of snow, a 100-year-record in my area of the country for this late in March.   It was a year ago that I went to a friend’s home to photograph her garden because she thought she would miss it before she returned from her winter home in the South.  I went hiking one day in mid-March without sunscreen and paid the price.   All the Spring wildflowers had faded by the first of April.

But this year?  9.25 inches of heavy wet snow.  It started Sunday, dumping a few inches on the ground but not sticking to the roads.  By noon it had stopped and everything on the trees and lawns had melted.   I thought we had dodged a bullet.   Around dinner time it started up again with a fury, covering the ground within minutes.   Because Daylight Savings Time is earlier now than in past years, this may have been the first time I experienced a heavy snowstorm in the daylight — at 8 pm!

Monday morning everything was covered.  It was cold and the winds had picked up.  At times it was difficult to tell if it was snowing again — and often it was — or whether it was merely snow being shaken off the trees.  Every once and awhile I would see a robin.   This weather isn’t for the birds!   I bet that bird wondered why he had booked his return flight north so early.

I wandered outside later in the day, accompanied by my camera and my iPhone.  Since the iPhone is new, I thought I’d take a few setups with both.  Having a phone that was so old my family liked to tease me that it was “so last century” (hyperbole runs rampant in my household, but they were almost correct), I have been amazed at the quality of the photos this little wonder that fits in my pocket can take.

But you know what?  I’m bored with pictures of the trees in the woods covered with snow.   I’m fatigued by ice crystals slowly melting off the picnic table.  I’m no longer fascinated by the frost patterns on the windows and sidewalks.   I’ve seen enough of footprints left by woodland critters on the driveway.  I’m fed-up with the constant grey haze that permeates the midwestern winter.   I’m solar-powered and I need the sun!

And yet, in the midst of the white fluffy snow, there are hints that this Second Winter, Winter 2.0, or The Winter That Never Ends — call it what you want — will in fact melt away and soon there will be flowers and trees in bloom.

The flowers will bloom tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow.  Can it please only be a day away?

The flowers will bloom tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow. Can it please only be a day away?

I didn’t like any of the photos that I shot, but this one, with just a hint of yellow and green against the rocks reminds me to keep looking forward a few weeks to more enjoyable weather.  The photos weren’t as clear as I liked, nor were they exposed correctly (dark afternoon shadows and bright-grey light — ugh!).  So this seemed a perfect candidate for adding some artistic, painterly effects and some overlays.   I liked adding a texture (Kim Klassen’s Grunged Up 2) to the snow.   I’m over it looking pretty in its pristine condition. Don’t beguile me with your whiteness, ye blanket of snow!  When it doesn’t melt around here, it gets very grungy looking and so I thought this image deserved the same.    Pow!  Take that snow!   

Linking up for Kim Klassen’s Texture Tuesday.  This week’s theme:  Flowers.   New green growth with a few buds hinting at blossoms is about as close as you can get to flowers in the wild here and I wasn’t about to head out to the store in the snow!  🙂