Category Archives: art

M. C. Escher in Winona, Minnesota

I like Bing maps because they provide a Bird’s eye aerial view which provides a little more perspective than Google’s top-down aerial view.  I recently saw an impossible aerial view on Bing, more akin to an M.C. Escher painting than a real photo.  Buildings next to each other at impossible angles.stmarys_bing_4.PNG

Having never been there, at first I thought it was perhaps unusual slanted architecture. Closer inspection showed that it was the incorrect auto-stitching of two photos from different vantage points (clear from the unfinished building edge in the upper center.)  The entire campus (Bing maps link) seems unfazed by this physical warping of space.stmarys_bing_1.PNG

I’m still not sure of the building below.  Having not been there, I’m not sure if all the sides are vertical, or one or more are architecturally slanted.  I will have to visit some day to see for myself.stmarys_bing_5.PNG

M. C. Escher’s painting Relativity, below.p02vhq1v

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Rockets, Butterflies and Turkeys

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly on Dame's Rocket

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly on Dame’s Rocket

I’ve been watching a meadow full of purple wildflowers. I’ve visited several times over the last few days to take pictures and paint. I did a plein air morning study, that I’ve posted on my art blog. It turns out that the beautiful voilet stalks are Dame’s Rocket, which is considered an invasive species.
A field with large patches of Dame's Rocket

A field with large patches of Dame’s Rocket


I went back again in the afternoon, and I was surprised how many butterflies and bees were out. The first picture in the post is an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly (Papilio glaucus). There were also orange-banded Red Admiral (vanessa atalanta) butterflies.
Red Admiral Butterfly (Vanessa atalanta)

Red Admiral Butterfly (Vanessa atalanta) on Dame’s Rocket


Then, on the way home, a wild turkey crossed the road. Couldn’t find it in the butterfly book.
Wild turkey

Wild turkey crossing the road.

Flowering Crabapple Tree Studies

Image Study 1. 9am April 14. Morning sunlight, no clouds.

Image Study 2. 7pm April 14. Overcast.

Image Study 3. 6pm April 17. Declining sunlight, mixed clouds. (Started sunny, finished cloudy).

Painting instructor wanted three 60 minutes 6×8 studies of the same subject at different times / days. All knife work.

Seeing Color Temperature and Value

Lemon shape bathed in green light.

Painting a planed lemon shape according to perceived colors in green light.


We are studying color temperature and value. We started painting the planes of an object in a saturated color light. I was to paint a carved lemon bathed in green light. Amazing! The green caused the color in the shadow was violet crimson! I want to know if that is a function of the way the eye sees it, or there is some actual change in the shadow. Nonetheless one is to paint what the eye and brain perceive, and that’s what we did.
The green lit lemon set up for painting.

The green lit lemon set up for painting.


The assignment for the week was to find a white object and paint it a) in red light, b) in white light using values only, c) in natural light. Only four colors to be used for (a) and (b) titanium white, permanent red, cadmium yellow light, ultramarine blue.

For an object, I found an Easter decoration, which I painted white to remove all local color, then put it under the red light.

Painting of an egg in a red light.


For the second part, only black and white could be used.

Egg painted in scales of grey.


The third painting was to use natural light from a north facing window (below). Nothing is more daunting than looking at something that is white, such as an egg or white cloth and trying to see the subtle colors that exist in the white. Suddenly the color becomes visible. It is exciting, once you see it.

Egg in natural light.


All of these were painted exclusively with a knife.

Still life with pitcher

Still life with a pitcher, an orange, a pear, and a spoon

Still life with a pitcher, an orange, a pear, and a spoon. First version with shadow and light divisions.


We’ve been learning more about light and color and how to see the colors the are in the lights, darks and whites. The painting class assignment was a still life, first with the lights and darks divided and then with the other detail added.
Still life with a pitcher, an orange, a pear, and a spoon

Still life with a pitcher, an orange, a pear, and a spoon. 2nd version with more detail.


Only four colors on the palette: white, ultramarine blue, cadmium red, and cadmium yellow light.
For reference, here is the actual setup.
Still life with a pitcher, an orange, a pear, and a spoon

Still life with a pitcher, an orange, a pear, and a spoon. Photo of the set up.

Art for the Aging (complete)

Assisi Heights

Assisi Heights from the southwest.

Here is the completed painting of Assisi Heights, a commissioned work for a retirement home.    Residents of the home struggle with memory and don’t see as well.   So the request was for something immediately recognizable and painted with high contrasts — bright lights and dark darks.   The colors needed to match the common memory:  blue skies, puffy clouds, green grass and trees.   That may sound strange, but when you paint you discover the sky is often not really blue, and foliage is not always green.  So, the point was, don’t get too artsy on this one.

I previously mentioned underpainting.   Here is a closeup of the trees in the lower left.  Notice the small spots of red underpainting where the paint has not completely covered.   That color registers with the eye and the brain interprets as warmth and unity.

Closeup of trees

Closeup of trees from Assisi Heights to show underpainting.

Art Class 101 – Week 2

Tonal value painting of a pear.

Tonal value painting of a carved pear, every facet separated into either light or shadow.

In the second week of art class, we’re moving on to finding planes of light, searching for the average value in a mass of shape.   Shadows don’t usually have a consistent tonal value throughout; there are gradations because of reflected light and the tricks our eyes play as we see edges where light and dark meet.

To see the planes of light better, the teacher provided a  pear that had been “carved” with flat faceted sides.   We were to first paint and separate the light from the shadow facets.

Two white mugs.For homework this week, we graduated from one cyllindrical paper towel tube, to knife painting two cyllindrical white mugs, one casting the shadow on the other.   This took me way too long.

Tonal value study of two cups

Tonal value study of two cups