Sunday, August 24, 2014


I have to start writing here because I try not to editorialize on my tumblr site. There I have been obsessed with the Internet Archive in general and old books on emblems in particular. Yes, lately it has been the emblems. I've seen some before but the one's I have been looking at lately are fantastic. They are surreal. They would make fabulous tarot cards. (As much as I like tarot cards, I know very little about their history. Are they, in fact, based on emblems?) I'm perhaps unclear on the purpose of emblems. I like them because they are engraved. I can see how Edward Gorey might have been influenced by them. Some seem like precursors to Alice In Wonderland.

In general, the Internet Archive is my favorite place to spend time. I am obsessed with it like some become sucked in by Television. It's my form of Gaming, perhaps. I take images and manipulate them into patterns. But that aside, I am impressed by the works, with the sheer volume of works accessible via the archive. There is so much old beautiful material that is available to anyone. Every so often I hit on a category that fascinates me. Emblems totally fascinate me.

Some of the material is very old and rare. Before the archive I would have to travel to various cities with academic libraries, gain permission to access each facility, use their card catalog, make appointments to see particular items, and show up with nothing more than an index card and a pencil. I would not even be allowed to touch some of these volumes. There would be a staff page turner.

And how would I even know these things existed before the archive? I just stumbled upon the first example. Then through the miracle of subject indexing I found the rest. I don't really care about the language: Latin, French, Dutch, whatever--its the illustrations that I am after and they transcend language. It's a universal language--that of the symbol. See more here.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Spiragraph of Life

I found a book on my shelf today that has changed my life: The Simplified Human Figure: Intuitional Expression by Adolfo Best-Maugard (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1936). It's a dump find that has been around for some time.

Today I picked it up, opened it to nearly the end, and was astounded by what I read. It suddenly seemed to provide the information about design, about art, about the purpose of life itself, that I have been searching for all along.

The method of design of which this book presents an aspect, quite aside from its practical usefulness, is both a discipline to the mind and a stimulus to the intuition, both working in conjunction, and as such it is an aid to harmonious development: intelligence interprets those things which the intuition  divines, the emotions charge them with life, and the hand executes. By these means the entire nature is aroused to a creative and co-ordinated activity; it is freed of its repressions and made ready for those further transmutations which the more intimate, intense, and vital experiences of life perhaps alone can give. The book is intended to be both a manual of design and an evolutionary agent. . . .
This quest for LIFE should be carried on within oneself, not in the outside world or in others, where it is usually sought. These (because he makes them so) are only reflections of himself, giving him back only his own image, useful therefore for knowledge of himself, but not for self-regeneration. This is discovered only in the silence, and in the secret places of the heart, for self-regeneration depends on the capacity for loving. Love is the power which frees man from his egg-shell existence and unites him with Life. Love may descend at any moment or never. But it is possible nevertheless to create conditions favorable to the descent of the divine fire. Right attitude creates a favorable condition; it attracts, like a lighted lamp in a window. Attitude may be defined as the way one wants to be or to become. If one wants to be love-illuminated, the attitude should be one of expectancy of that event.
In a glassine envelope attached to the inside back cover is a pink "spiragraph" tool to be used in demonstrating the "organic structure and mathematical perfection" of the instinctive spiral.
The intellect, on the other hand, interferes with this instinctive and intuitive action. It acts by itself and thus disturbs the great organic rhythms, unless it be conditioned, controlled, harmonized in its action by its "divine spouse" which is LOVE.

The design of the Spirograph geometric drawing game (which I loved as a kid) is attributed to the British engineer Denys Fisher who first marketed it in 1965. Athough according to The Bioscope, Theodore and Bessie Brown actually came up with the idea first back in 1907. Precursors include: the Phenakistoscope, the Zoetrope, the Zoopraxiscope, the Tachyscope, the Bioscope, the Kammatograph, and the Animatograph.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Fishbein Connection

It is so rewarding when someone sees my work and shares a connection that I have overlooked. This past weekend a gentleman was studying the older collage work in my back gallery and came to me with a question about my diptych titled A Sad Infatuation.

He wanted to know if there was some significance to the name Morris Fishbein which appears attributing a reviewer's comment on the jacket flap of Physical Attraction and Your Hormones. I replied that I did not know anything about Fishbein, who also wrote the books forward, but would now have to look him up. And this is what I found. Adds a little bit of relevance to the overall theme I must admit!

And there is another bit of trivia: The author of the book, Nina Katherine Lunn, was the daughter of Wallace H. White, Jr. White was a U.S. Senator from the state of Maine. Lunn reportedly "became a Washington (and later Hollywood) society figure, especially after writing a book entitled Physical Attraction and Your Hormones (Doubleday, 1950), and working on another, apparently unfinished, entitled Venus was an Amateur. She divorced her first husband, a Pittsburgh broker, in 1942 for having squandered her assets."

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Digital Art Catalogs

I just completed three interactive art catalogs of digital art on my tumblr. They have a new feature which allows posting up to ten photos at once and I had been ignoring it. Up until today that is. What a fun snow day!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Cross Check Cross

This started with two crossed lines and then I just filled in on four sides. Such fun to make that I started creating little repeat patterns, and then added some color. Done with marking pens from Staples on cheap water color paper last night in bed because it was too cold in the office to sit at the computer. Today it was warmer so I scanned them and played around in Photoshop.


See more Cross Check Cross designs on the tumblr.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Primary Dots Turnaround

From an acrylic painting done a few years back and stretched a little to even out the repeat. After a while they start to look like beads. This next one makes me think of Kumihimo braided bracelets.

Monday, December 31, 2012

I Like Ike

I really like this pattern but I am nervous about the use of two of the photos. Especially the one of Einstein with the clown nose. I even did a Google image search to try to locate the source.

 I'll be applying this "turn-around" scheme to everything I've done to date no doubt. This one is one of my favorites. I started the original collage in 2008. Perhaps I will finish it next year.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Starburst Swipe

I did not mean to swipe this--I tried to resist--but the urge to see what would happen was too strong! You really can't tell from the final mutation, above. But an earlier version, below, reveals my source.

I was actually thinking of that fabulous Christmas story by Gerald Potterton, The Star (And George). Inspired by the outstanding graphics at Geometry Daily and more on the tumblr.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Flatland Cold, Flatland Hot

I scanned some of my little leftover "flatland" squares which I try to store out of reach of Mica because he loves to chew little holes in things I am trying to save. Lots more Flatland on the tumblr.

Italian Lessons

Yesterday I finished a collage that had been kicking around for some time. I decided to scan the background, an old book page on watercolor paper on which I had drawn a grid. Then I scanned the individual elements and played around in photoshop. You can see the entire development on the tumblr.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

3 More Swatch Variations

I'm really having fun with these--can you tell?

Image - Adjustments - Invert

Last night I was playing around in Photoshop creating patterns from some Spoonflower fabric swatch photos. I suddenly discovered how easy it is to create something like the above by inverting a selection of the design. See more of the Swatch Series on the tumblr.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Beyond Roderick Slater

Take a look at this work by Augustine Kofie. It reminds me a lot of Roderick Slater but moves beyond right angles and has me totally inspired. Thanks to Cartwheel Galaxy I made the discovery this morning.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Eric Ravilious

I was surfing on my favorite used book site and I came across a jacket illustrated by Eric Ravilious that looked very familiar! It served to remind me of the book scanned above which has been sitting on my shelf in the front hallway for a few years just waiting for me to make this morning's connection. I have additional volumes and even though the set is incomplete I am happy to have paid .25 for each at a church used book sale.

Here's a nice Flickr Set where I found the image displayed below. Check out this Google image search to enjoy more art by Eric Ravilious. I particularly like his designs as applied to mugs and plates.