Category Archives: Design

Visual and User Interface Design and Layout

Some More Artists and Thoughts

Sofonisba Anguissola Self-portrait, 1554

Giorgione, Self-Portrait

The Buffoon Calabazas (The Dwarf Don Juan Calabazas, called Calabacillas) – Diego Velazquez


Still from “GI Joe I’m a Computer” by Eric Fensler

Agnes Martin was working at the dawn of the American “liberation”. I think it’s many social thinkers view that it went wrong in America, without blame, but because the philosophical foundation did not spread as a firm (non-commercial and practical) foundation of positive belief. Mercedes Matter’s project is one extremely successful example of such a possible framework, in my view, if decontextualized from a “Modernist” context.  I’m not an advocate of NYSS necessarily, they just taught me something so much deeper than stoopid colored mud on a frame (that I adore) and it cost me next-to-nothing (in relative terms). So bang for my buck? Infinite. She painted, but as a performance artist? Oh man.

The authenticity of the sincerity is what makes it an ethical work, to me. As well as a lovely, gentle and meditative call for some room at the margins. Every artist here had confident ownership of their frame; anything missing was artistic choice.

It pivots on aspiration, btw (why I removed the work of that name by Agnes Martin). If one comes from the painting “tradition”…oh dear…so, so, so objectified by culture in so many ways…just sad because it’s not what it’s about and not what these individuals were doing.  There is no “kind” of painting, it just seemed like it for a while. and now, looking at 3D, it should be really evident, to me. I’m asking people to decontextualize this stuff cause I believe non-metaphorically, along with others…that that’s the “good” way of looking…and then they re-contextualize as people, individuals, speaking quite individually.

I would add that I, along with (I think) others have, at times, considered popular culture our ethical doorway to other worlds and kinds of space but that’s a really, really open question, to me; an unanswered ethical one, but (to be redundant) what does that question, on-the-ground, hinge on? And if that hinge is either/or, it’s not a hinge, ya know…Ramps!

So, partly, I’m also looking for ethical ways and connection points between my fragmented cultural history from an externalized and objectified POV and my real one. So my positive objective is to find an ethical path for a common and cross-cultural space but that has to be understood as a giant problem and one that I can only contribute to from my, very tiny, cultural POV.

I have *NO* experience with this kind of thought and space, it is complex, understood, rich and communicative:

[Wikipedia text] Guo Xi is a representative landscape painter of the Northern Song dynasty, depicting mountains, rivers and forests in winter. This piece shows a scene of deep and serene mountain valley covered with snow and several old trees struggling to survive on precipitous cliffs.

But what’s my ethical doorway to it?  Movies?  How did I receive them?  Via the common, popular forms and I hate to say it, but that means Capitalism and the movies were sold.  No matter the form, if the authentic purpose of making, in any way, is compromised, it’s not art to me.  Maybe that’s extreme?  I don’t care.  Doesn’t mean I don’t consider some movies art, and some have, quite successfully, communicated the worlds above, but some have not.

The only extent to which I have *any* understanding of the space, metaphor, color and overall structure of communication actually, is the extent to which I’ve tried to paint and draw it or seen it in real life: a person made it in a context but it was a person who had a lot on their mind.  Imagine encompassing what was on this person’s mind, that’s what my project is about on the web.

Pieter Brueghel the Elder, Netherlandish Proverbs, 1559, oil on oak wood

This goes for all of the work on this page (and elsewhere), where it is made with authentic, free, artistic purpose.

Personally, unfortunately (maybe), I stopped creatively planning or thinking after I completed my first full 3d animation.  The process and the context of 3D is, in my view, unrelentingly bad and non-conducive to the kind of free expression that I care about.

Deer and Hunters, unknown shaman 17,000 B.C.E.

I don’t mean bad for nothing.  It’s a perceptual kind of realism,  period.  To me that is a very meaningful and non-creative fact; even the cartoons.  The root of a lot it, believe it or not, is related to software automation.  This kind of realism is objectification.  My large horrible Lucky painting is a demonstration of this kind of thought in painting and I made it precisely for this purpose, if that painting is saying something, it’s: “Keep away!”  This was one of the core lessons at NYSS about the progression of the “object” in art history.

Purely visual reality is the tiniest, tiniest, tiniest slice of real experience.  The painters who left a kind of perceptual reality behind did it because it was insufficient.  The ones who didn’t rely on it much was simply cause they didn’t feel they needed it much:

Giovanni Cimabue, “Saint Francis, Museo della Porziuncola, Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli, Assissi.

I would note that there are a lot of works that I would like to show but I do not because I do not wish to show works that I don’t have some direct, cultural connection to (in at least some relatively closeish way).  There are so many works I love outside of my Western painting kind of frame, but this is a blog with an international audience and so I generally choose not to show them…but if I make any mistakes in this regard, my apologies (it’s just my ignorance but unintended)

This is why to some people the below is a decorative painting and to others it’s one of the most fundamental questions about the nature of reality in Western oil painting:

Still Life with Apples
c. 1890 (110 Kb); Oil on canvas, 35.2 x 46.2 cm (13 3/4 x 18 1/8 in); The Hermitage, St. Petersburg

But philosophical and wide dialectical questioning like Cezanne did is stupid now.  All of the important questions, in a Western context, have been asked about those four wooden supports except in a much more modest and local sense and, again, precisely why “Lucky”, my painting, is immodest.  That’s not a good way to communicate.  Cezanne asked one of the biggest questions in Western history by leaving out a mark.  That missing mark, to me, is one of the utterly intentional and philosophical roots of Cezanne’s work and the work that followed.  Very much including Duchamp and every other permutation that “Art” (Art?) took from that point forward until I was at grad school, for that matter.

A tiny bit more explanation on the above painting, it’s an exploration of what’s called “plastic” or formal or relational space.  The space of the painting is not a perspectival (or literal) space anymore.  The lines of things are broken and hidden or discontinuous.  The reason, at least in part, is because Cezanne understood that looking is experiential.  His project, as I understand it, is to find the eternal in a perceptual search for it; the search gives rise to the image.  In some ways, I feel Picasso misunderstood the lesson of Cezanne when he deconstructed the other.

To an artist in the Bay Area looking for a form, these are really bad news, actually, and, really, were at the time because they are all impeccable in their way but finding a way in between…not so easy…for a code nerd.  So their influence on me was just the ways in which the thought in their work is not present in mine.

All-time favs:

This guy.  Pure rock and roll, but he has to be contextualized, in full, to really understand what the work is about.  Graham Nickson.

I keep the image (just dug it up, lol).  The painting lessons contained within it?  Those are, partly, social lessons:

so many kinds…so many…different forms, so many.  and so beautiful.  so just pure music.  When you’ve seen this and talked to the person, it doesn’t make sense to make it or even anything much close to it, to me, anymore.  That should be obvious.  The web, on the other hand…I think each of the works above, in a very wide cultural frame, can be starting points for whole new conversations, even in painting but they can’t be if the starting point isn’t understood experientially.

The artists that I had the hardest time contextualizing were the ones who understood, quite frankly.  I understood them (to some degree) but i couldn’t make it and mean it.

No way to encompass the knowledge of modernist (i.e. all of Western painting) history contained in all of this work.  I don’t evaluate it on just aesthetics, it’s a social comment.  When I look at it, totally removed from its historical threads, they are just staggeringly beautiful, to me.  The sophistication of sensual use of color is a way of being, a way of thought.  The painting has to be lived with and related to and seen and loved.  These images are terrible because they are reproduced.  The dissonances and harmonies of color are all intended and well understood.  These are compositions and lessons…

The “meta” slowly dissolves in this painting and subtleties of the color itself start to speak.

I saw this as grounding, as the root of art, actually, not painting.  That’s why I *hate* it when people look at paintings as things and not the context and relationships being expressed.  The frame of painting that I come from is one where it was in a negative cultural position, and, in my view, quite rightly, but that does not invalidate the understood project of the people who keep the long intellectual, philosophical, relational and sensitive tradition alive.  That said, I only believe in the form if one can come at it from authentic, and current, cultural POV (meaning a *complete* understanding of the ethical ground on which one can progress) and, honestly, why I only really feel ethically ok making space for other things that people have to say cause I’m from the ‘burbs and I love code ‘n games.  Those things, really, aren’t so good for the senses except when creative or, indeed, even productive and that is largely untapped, in my view in all three, actually.  even code, lol.  but most especially the American ‘burbs and games.

[insert almost any contemporary 3D gaming image (with some exceptions)]

I am only critical of the above kind of space and image because of the lack of other kinds.  I don’t mean to invalidate the physical mastery it represents, I simply wish to ask valid social impact questions about it.

Opinionated (and Random) run through Art History

The Girl with a Wine Glass, Vermeer

[I used to look at this image formally.  The color, in real life, defies imagination.  But the subject…that’s what I think about now…and, in truth, it becomes less of an idyllic looking painting.]


Gretna Campbell

In many ways, Cezanne’s subject (in my view) was a quest for the unknowable:

Fauvist Mattise

Barnett Newman: a great thinker and a deep exploration of nothing and infinity:


Images are pointless.  The subtlety of tone within the color, impossible to even approximate in a photo of any kind.

Oak Leaf and Pine Tree (ca. 1859); Joyce Gross Quilt History Collection, Center for American History.

Btw, Chardin’s choice of subjects, to me, says a great deal about the person.

One of the most moving and powerful humanists ever: Giotto (not to mention colorist)

A rebel, a player, a Titan.  Caravaggio’s life is always what mostly interested me.

Tinteretto and Tiepolo:

Giovanni Domeico Tiepolo, (Italian, 1727-1804), Flying Cherubs on Clouds, pen and brown ink with brush and brown and gray wash over traces of graphite

Awesome strangeness: Carpaccio:

Infinite mystery, Giorgione:

Jane Freilicher, Window

Fairfield Porter, Maine — Toward the Harbor, 1967

Excavation Penn Station, Ernest Lawson 1906

Mercedes Matter
Untitled, Still Life, Circa 1985-90
Oil on canvas
36 x 60 inches (Borghi Fine Art Gallery)

Excavation, 1950, Willem de Koonig

No. 3, Esteban Vincente, 1959

Avey, from Cane, 2000, Martin Puryear

A late, and less urgent (lol), search but the search is not at all what interests me here

Watteau: easily one of the most misunderstood artists in my opinion (in public terms).  So deep, funny, subtle, intelligent and beautiful:

I promise I’m not being ironic.  yeah, to me, one of the best the West has produced.  It’s a philosophical, scientific, social and heartfelt masterpiece.

It’s really hard to talk about Rembrandt.  So I’m gonna talk about a few things.

I don’t like the cultural forms of critique which overemphasize the dialectic of “the other”.  This narrative of cultural clash runs everywhere.  It almost doesn’t matter who I’m looking at, the subject is almost always the encounter with the other, in my opinion and in broad terms.  I’m interested in a humanist thread.  A social thread.

What I want for Rembrandt is to just forget his technique.  Metamorphosis fits better for me.  He was a magician.

Dutch people may feel a bit…ambivalent about this…;D I dunno.  I’m not Dutch (that’s fer sure ;D) but in the great Dutch period of painting, I do feel the overall framework or structure in which artists were working was the subject…and that connects quite strongly (like or not) to America.  They were mercantilists, pragmatists.  That has very, very good qualities but the bad qualities, I feel, are the thing that’s not enough noticed, but I have nothing to say about The Netherlands, per se.  It’s historical interest in how it connects to my native country, indeed, to a city I lived in and will always love in every way.

Alice Neel, portraitist, epic:

I’m avoiding talking about any contemporaries or any other media, much, besides painting.  One of my “gripes” is how painting got cornered as though it were any different than the rest after Duchamp.  It’s free now.  But I’m afraid that “freedom” isn’t…um…free in the way that the social thinkers in the early part of the 20th Century imagined.  In other words, there is no discussion of painting without understanding the entire social framework in which the form is transmitted in culture and to avoid metaphor, “The Swing” is such an unthinkable masterpiece to me but in very difficult and painful ways.

The evenness of images leads to the meta but it’s possible to get back to the authentic, even within the meta, but it’s by avoiding discussing, directly, the unknowable.

I can’t post it because reproduction is just pointless but Van Eyck represents, to me, just transcendence.

These people are just people I knew and I’m recording it, kinda selfishly, I guess.  Just to put it together.  There is no meaningful connection between my work and theirs or their career and mine.  Other than I know them, that’s it, and we worked together.

I mean.  What words?  really.


Oh be still my heart.

For me, after seeing this, it already was even.  Can you compare it?  no way.  to me, as a painting, it’s perfect.  i hate words around it.  it’s perfect in every way.  And this was true for me, well, quite a few years but the form is used so meaningfully, that’s why I feel it leaves questions of comparison behind.