Archive for April, 2008

Fiji clouds

April 19, 2008

i

Late afternoon the clouds would cover the sky bringing the landscape to a grey and green combination that seemed quite constant, the most prevalent leitmotif of Fiji colour, for the time of year that we were there. Then the clouds would build into deep, dark menacing shapes that scudded across the sky, dumping water in tropical proportions, like God dousing the land with a giant bucket, slopping it all at once and then being done with it.

Everyone runs for cover. There are ample overhangs and huts to shelter under.

The rain flattened all the colours, making sihouette shapes of all the trees. Like cut-outs. Then the rains would stop, not exactly suddenly, but the transition from super-dump of rain to dry – no more rain at all only took about five minutes once the storm was over. The clouds gather themselves back into high piles of fluffiness and move their way out across the bay, taking center stage, and blocking out the setting sun.

People come right back out again and resume whatever they were doing. It’s lucky when the rain dumps just after you’ve arrived a happy hour. You can sit with your preprandial drink watching the clouds transform before your very eyes.

I took this photo of clouds because something rather curious was going on up there in the post-rain clouds. See how the dark mass of clouds is backlit by the sun – and then there is another dark mass flaring behind it? Here’s a close up of the flare.

So here’s what baffles me about this flare:
The dark one in the foreground is backlit, presumably by the sun. So then, is that second dark shape behind it a cloud? If so, why isn’t it backlit also? While several of us watched this phenomenon, no one could come up with an explanation of how it was lit.

How could the sun get in behind one cloud and not the other one? If it did it would be the cloud most in the background that was backlit, but that is not what is occurring here.

It’s curiouser and curiouser.

Advertisements

White rock photo

April 15, 2008

I took this photo in White Rock. The sun was glaring and I could hardly see the screen display to know what I was getting. When finally I got it home, it was one that I felt really quite thrilled with for a number of reasons. A happy accident. I didn’t even have to crop it.

First of all, I love subtlety and for that reason, I rather like the reduced palette of greys with only small amounts of subdued blues to heighten it. The balance between light and dark is sufficient to make the picture work. And then, despite many of the compositional rules that I generally go by, this one defies them or plays with them in an elliptical way (in the sense of omitting parts while still providing the meaning – I hope that Elliptical is the adverbial form of elide – to abridge, to omit ).

If you use the rule of thirds, the vertical left hand third and the vertical right hand third have activity going on in them but the center one has none. Already that trangresses the geometric compositional rule of putting something in the critical centre square.

Horizontally, the top two bands form a third; the middle, the major sandbar, forms the second and is enhanced by the small sandbar the two right hand figures are standing on. The bottom third is composed of the pool of water broken up by reflections echoing the figures.

If you follow the compositional rule of reading the picture like you would read a book, there is a strong entry point on the left hand side that is just, and only very minutely so, interrupted by the camera man’s head so that the eye can connect to the downward force to take its journey into the picture and thence again to the right. All the other horizontal lines are interrupted with vertical images, helping the viewer stay in the picture. Even if the directional force is strongly moving to the right, it’s always comfortable to shift down into the image and work your eye around the various figures.

Each of the figures acts as a vertical force that stops the eye from going out of the picture, and yet, because the reflection elides the figure shape, there is no continuous line, just one that is constructed by the eye of the viewer; and yet it reads as a continuous vertical “stopper” in the picture. That is, the viewer has to do some work to connect things together and this is a good thing – the image becomes interactive.

The small sandbar on the right edge acts as an arrow that is a strong counterweight to all the horizontal lines driving rightwards. It volleys the eye back to the left of the image. So, although there is nothing going on in the center, the eye comfortably can undertake a tennis match in the image, going back and forth, back and forth.

There are good contrasts – light and dark; texture and smooth; and activity and stasis. That being said, this might not be as captivating a photo without the adult form on the left who is taking photographs. His posture with the camera and his flapping coat make him the most interesting figure and his activity assists in pushing your eye to the right; and yet, your eye wants to keep going back to him. In this way he is perfectly positioned as a counterweight.

II superimposed a geometric grid on the picture plane and discovered it is not a Golden Rectangle. To my surprise, I realized that digital cameras have a new standard – it’s the 8.5 x 11 inch format that is standard to computer office paper. It’s not the 4 x 6 inches of standard non-digital photography. If it were, the closest would be 8 x12. It’s not far off, but it makes a difference. Of course, with the programs we have now for modifying digital photos, it would be very easy to stretch out or squish the picture to fit a Golden Rectangle proportion and hardly anyone would ever notice the difference

Using the geometric principle of composition, I drew a square on the left using the smaller side as the length of the square and then did the same on the other; then proceeded to make some critical center lines, major diagonals and then connected intersecting points. I came with this:

i

It’s a photo not a drawing. You get what you get, although when you zoom, when you frame things up before taking the photo, you have some control over composition of your image. So was it by hazard that I got a good approximation of a geometric composition? I think not. I think that the amount of time I’ve spent analyzing this kind of composition helps me to select and frame up images that are already approximately fitting the Geometric composition grid.

There is some good correspondence with the grid to the image – water meeting sand lines in the horizontal direction. a good diagonal on the right side; the figures hovering around a principal vertical on the left side and the figures on the right contained in a major right hand rectangle. The reflections are pretty close to being in the lower third. If I were to plan a painting using the geometric method of composition, it would take very little to adapt this picture to the grid to reinforce its geometric harmony.

Now look at this image again from the Spatial Relationship theory of composition:

The figures act as focal points. I’ve simplified the picture to show how they draw your eye around the image. I’ve traded the denim, (the mid-tone blue) for orange for illustration purposes only; and black as the dark tone. If you cover over the left hand figures you will see that your eye no longer is interested in travelling back and forth over the image. Or vice versa, cover over the right hand figures, the same thing happens. The picture becomes boring and ill-balanced. Also note here that when I modified the picture to make the principal focal points stand out, I lost the horizontal lines of the sea meeting the sand. This modified version of the photo now lacks any horizontal driving force except those lines from the grid itself!

Mostly only artists and photographers are interested in the underpinnings of the picture. They are like the compulsory figures of the figure skater. When they are doing their long skate, you’d never know they spent hours on the compulsories, practicing, practicing, practicing. If I were doing a painting from this picture, I would be searching out the harmonies and balances all the time, at the same time as I was painting the figures with some degree of representational form. Both need to be there – the form and the composition. I would move figures over a bit to make the composition work even better. I might even cut out a shape of one of the figures in paper of approximately the right colour or tone, then move it around the picture and consider where it would best be placed in order to give harmony to the whole.

Good artists understand these rules and regs. They are conscious of what’s going on in their drawings and how they are keeping the eye of the viewer engaged, seemingly effortlessly.

My last comment on this picture has nothing to do with composition. It has to do with subject.

I like this picture because it caught people doing what they like to do, not posed, not stiff. They are enjoying themselves. It’s idyllic.

I hope you’ve enjoyed it too.

If some of this seems esoteric to you and it’s the first time you’ve visited the site, then go back through some of my recent posts. I’ve been writing about composition.

Happy painting!

Musings on compostion in early photography

April 14, 2008

A comment on my last post, Divine Proportions, reflected on whether “big name photographers have followed this system (geometric composition) and whether it was a conscious decision or just a feel for composition. Maybe it depends on if they went to art school or were self taught.”

I answered the comment in some measure which I won’t repeat here – you can find my reflections on that in the comments for that post. However, it got me to thinking about some of the early photographers and whether or not they had had art school training.

I found these things in Wikipedia or other locations on the Internet:

Nadar was the pseudonym of Gaspard-Félix Tournachon (April 6, 1820March 21, 1910), a French photographer, caricaturist, journalist, novelist and balloonist.

There is nothing in the article that suggests he went to art school, yet look at these two images and you will see that they generally conform to a geometric balance of composition that was prevalent to the arts of the time.

Nadar\'s photo of Sarah BernhardtNadar\'s portrait of the artist Crode\'s familyi

Eyeballing these two photos (I haven’t measured to prove my point) they look like they conform. They also look like standard formats for portraiture painting of the period. So for this photographer, the jury is out. There’s no proof that he went to art school or had formal art training, but when I looked at the available photos on Wikipedia, the compositions all seem to conform to geometric compositional norms. Daumier’s drawing about Nadar which is available on the same post is very obviously using the Golden Mean compositional device.

Daumier\'s cartoon about Nadari

Nadar had his finger in many artistic endeavours. Reading his short history had peaked my interest to know more.

Next on my list to explore was Louis Daguerre, and here’s the link:

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Daguerre

Daguerre was born in Cormeilles-en-Parisis, Val-d’Oise, France. He apprenticed in architecture, theater design, and panoramic painting. Exceedingly adept at his skill for theatrical illusion, he became a celebrated designer for the theater and later came to invent the Diorama, which opened in Paris in July 1822.

So this one is a died-in- the- wool user of the geometric theory of composition.

Here’s one of his first photos, the Boulevard du Temple:

i

William Henry Fox Talbot studied the classics and mathematics at Cambridge, was elected a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1822, and a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1832. He was also an MP, Biblical scholar, a Botanist and Assyriologist, making a contribution to the deciphering of cuneiform inscriptions brought to England from Nineveh. There’s more history on Talbot on the following link:

http://www.rleggat.com/photohistory/history/talbot.htm

While he was quite inventive in the processes of photography, he was more interested in recording things than making pictorial compositions. Only his architectural work seems to compositional and it doesn’t exhibit much conformation to the Golden Ratio.

Here are some photos of his:

i

The first of these is just flowers and leaves. It’s an informational photo, not one where the composition has been particularly considered and thought about. The next two may be, but there’s nothing consistent in his photographs to show that he was much concerned about composition per se.

Though I’ve looked at some History of Photography sites as I was writing this, I don’t know which specific names to look up to see if they are using the classic proportions that I’ve been talking about, or not. If my readers can suggest some other early photographers for me to continue researching, I’d be happy to do that.

When I reflect on the dates of these early photographers, I realize that some of the photographs I have in my collection of family portraits could be considered as early photographs. Most were taken between the 1870s and 1910. The following is one that I find just delightful, of my grandfather and my uncle in Winnipeg.

i

So the jury is out. I found two who seem to strongly be influenced by classical geometric composition and one who seems not to be concerned about composition as well. The first two seem to have had some formal visual training and it’s just not clear about Talbot.

And on that note, it’s late and I’m turning in.

K

Divine proportions

April 10, 2008

The golden rectangle

I’ve been cruising a few sites to see what I could suggest as good examples of Art using the Golden Mean, or the Golden Rectangle, also known as the Divine Proportion. In my current avoidance and procrastination mood, I’m looking for a way out of drawing a template myself, but I haven’t found what I wanted. There are several rather dry explanations from a mathematical point of view.

Actually, the recurrence of the Golden Rectangle and the Golden Ratio in nature is quite frequent as is the Fibonacci series (1 plus 1 is 2, 2 plus 1 is 3, 2 plus 3 is 5, 3 plus 5 is 8, 5 plus 8 is 13; that is 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, ad infinitum . It’s best to look in Wikipedia if you want a good mathematical explanation of it. My eyes glaze over when I see it. I find it amazing, but I don’t want to do the math. (More avoidance?) I can check my grocery bills and balance my cheque book and determine what my change should be in a financial transaction at the supermarket; but further than that, I have little interest in geometric and algebraic calculations.

In my former day job, I managed several millions of dollars per year in a major contract, but I had people who were better at numbers than I, checking where we were with the budget. If I used a computer, I could generally understand what had happened to all the dollars spent and talk about how much was left over; or talk to the purse string holders and explain where we expected to spend all the money in the next year. But Please, Please don’t ask me to explain the mathematical aspects of the Golden Rectangle to you. There are several people much better at it and if you just Google these terms, you will find some mathematical explanations if you should so desire.

The question that is important to me is, how does it apply to art? Why is it important to even think about these complicated mathematical relationships when all we really want to do is draw? Why would we go to a lot of trouble to create a grid underneath our images in order to artificially bend a composition into it?

First of all, it’s been used as a principle of structuring, both in two dimensional and three dimensional art and in architecture, for thousands of years. It behooves us to at least be aware of it and understand that it’s not too bad a way to go about designing things. It has been declared universally pleasing in many different cultures which makes me wonder if it isn’t also a part of our own make up – an archetypal pattern in the Jungian sense of a inherited pattern or thought or symbolic imagery derived from the past collective experience and living in the present unconscious .

Secondly, during the Renaissance in the 14th and 15th Century, Greek geometry texts were rediscovered and using the Golden Mean for proportions became a leading-edge art fad. The heightened interest led to its being used in a formulaic way in the structuring of all paintings. By the Nineteenth Century, it was considered the only way to compose pictures and became a confining, imprisoning idea and all other forms of composition were mocked as primitive or decorative. However, the idea of geometric composition is still taught in Art History to explain Renaissance and Neo-Classic Artist methodology. Some modern day artists are again finding the concept a useful one for compositional balance.

In the photographers’ or artists’ life, most of the standard sizes of photographs (i.e. 4 x 6) and the manufactured canvases, frames, artist’s watercolour blocks and drawing pads conform to the Golden Rectangle proportion. As a result of starting with a Golden Rectangle in photography, it is evident that the Rule of Thirds also complies to the Golden Ratio principle.

If you go back to my post titled “Today’s Offering” I’ve already talked about some of the periods of art where the slavish attention to this principle of composition was rejected by artists who wanted to free their thinking and find new, fresh ways of making images. In the Twentieth Century, there was an enormous upheaval in society engendered chiefly by two horrendous, cataclysmic wars. The forefront of the art world reflected these upheavals by challenging all the rules and eventually, there were Art movements that chose to toss out all the previously cherished formulas for art.

By the time I was studying Art in the late ‘Sixties, our professors were still teaching drawing and painting, but there were lots of forms of Art or trends that didn’t seem like Art at all. Some artists challenged the notion that art was for museums and for homes. Longevity of art was not deemed desirable nor necessary. It was felt that Art should be brought to the streets and the masses.

One of the performances that I remember entailed the artist erecting a platform on which his piano was placed. After a rather wild and agitated performance of some non-harmonic piano bashing and much gyrating and ranting on the part of the artist, he turned from the audience and attacked his piano, beating it into smithereens. A strong sense of Anihilism reigned as the North American populace struggled with the futility of American involvement in Viet Nam. A whole generation of brave and intelligent young men were being conscripted off to a war that few Americans believed in. Art of the time reflected a disaffection with society in some creative and also some destructive manners.

One of Vancouver’s artists took reels and reels of discarded film and knit it into an amorphous pile that surrounded her in the Vancouver Art Gallery. Her artwork was this pile of knitted film. Another built a low wall of bricks that snaked through one room of the the Art Gallery. One installation had lines of various kinds of string and other tangible, touchable items hanging inside a built passageway that the “observer” to the gallery, was invited to walk through, encouraging the gallery’s guest to think of art as a sensation as much as a visual experience. Installation Art, as this mode of expression became named, has not run it’s course still – fifty years after.

In my early years while I was studying at University, we still were taught drawing and painting, basics of design, sculpture and ceramics. Our professors were trained in the first half of the Twentieth Century and many were still products of the Nineteenth century teaching philosophy and training, for which I am eternally grateful. But they were reaching out to understand and incorporate the modern trends that were exploding around us in a maelstrom of creativity and reaction to the political atmosphere of the time. I am equally thankful for that exposure to Found Art, Op Art, Pop Art and other leading edge forms of that time.

Ten years after I finished University and my art teaching degree, I was frustrated with my own abilities to draw and I sold everything I had so that I could go to Art school for a year. It turned into four years, thankfully, because that period of concentrated learning and discovery made the difference in me becoming a good artist instead of a really bad wannabe. Amongst other things, I had time to focus on different means of composition and internalize them.

I got caught up on the principles of the Golden Rectangle which I had only heard of briefly in a Math class in Grade 10 or 11. I thought it might be the magic answer for composing landscapes that people would have an inherent connection to, whether they realized it or not. The compositions would be familiar to them because of the underlying structure. They would then fall in love with my pictures and want to buy them. It was a little naive, and spurious at the same time. Of course, any time I’ve tried to make pictures with make-money-quick as the end goal, I’ve always failed miserably. I still have them all stored in my basement. It may work for some people, but it doesn’t work for me.

Nevertheless, I got quite apt at planning out pictures with this classical method as the underpinning for composition. I gained a much better understanding of all the Renaissance, Classical and Baroque Art. Even the Impressionists were steeped in the use of geometrically designed compositions. While they were breaking away in colour and subject, they just couldn’t shake their early classical training in composition. Once learned, you start noticing it everywhere. It’s hard to dismiss it and it is hard to erase it from your compositions. Certainly, you will begin to realize which artists use it as a formula in their work and those who don’t.

Here’s how it works:

Step One

4 x 6 inch golden rectangleI

I’m using a 4 x 6 watercolour block, the kind one does post cards for this illustration.

You will see that I have divided it into three equal rectangles. The two on the left, combined, make square. The two on the right when combined also make a square.

i

Now I’ve used a black line to put a large diagonal cross in black on the two left rectangles. The intersecting point halves the common side of these two rectangles. I’ve done the same on the two right-hand rectangles but in red so that you can see the difference. I filled in the resulting square with a pale blue so that you could take special notice of it.

In classic composition, the subject of the painting should be focused in some way in this important square. If someone’s arms come through this space, they should align with one of the side of the square; or if there is a head that is important, it should be placed fitting in this area. If it doesn’t, according to this geometric method of composition, you change your composition so that it does fit. You bend your images to fall on important lines and this square is the key focal point that needs to have something interesting going on in it.

Step Two

Stage 2i

Now I’ve reinforced the Step One lines in black. For Step Two, using red, I’ve drawn a vertical line between intersecting points and carried them on to top and bottom of the picture surface (the picture plane); then I’ve done this horizontally as well. In yellow, I’ve drawn lines from corner to corner. If you are completely accurate in your drawing, then you have defined dead centre, smack dab in the middle.

Step Three

I have changed all of those Step 2 lines to black so that you will be able to see what happens next.

Step Three defines more diagonals, creating more intersecting points.

i

In Step Three, I’ve taken diagonals from the midpoints of each side and drawn them down to the corners, shown in red. Then I looked for intersecting points and connected them, continuing the lines out to the sides. There are vertical and horizontal ones. And then more intersections occur and more connections can be made ad infinitum until you have a real (but very geometrical) spider web of lines.

I’ve done this in a variety of colours so that you could distinguish the progression of connections, but in a preparation drawing for composition, this would most likely be done in light pencil, or on a canvas, in sanguine chalk or willow charcoal that would easily erase or blend in with the paint as you start to add in pigments.

Step 4

Next, I’ve drawn a rather primitive drawing on top of the geometric grid. I’ve done this all with the mouse in cyberspace (no pencil or paper), so enjoy the directness of it. It’s rather rough. You’ll wonder what I was doing all those years in art school!

For some reason that I wasn’t willing to spend a lot of time on, the computer wouldn’t let me fill in colours in enclosed shapes today. In order to add colour to this drawing, I ended up doing a lot of switching between Adobe Photoshop and the Accessories program that comes with every PC called Paint. It has made for some interesting textures and colour choices that I found rather interesting.

i

You can see that I’ve chosen the grid lines to define the couch mattress, I’ve chosen a right hand vertical to prop the pillow against; the breasts lie on either side of one wall of the middle square; the knees are at strategic points as are the hands. The window with trees outside is a rectangle that is bordered on vertical and horizontal lines provided in the grid; I tried to get the centre of the body, the torso, into the important middle square. It didn’t quite fit that way, but with this drawing it was too hard to go back and change it.

Now here’s the same drawing developed a little more. Particularly, I’ve tried to erase the grid lines as much as possible while still leaving a trace of them underneath (for demonstration purposes only).

i

Despite the inaccuracies of form, despite the roughness of this mouse-drawn sketch, you can see that the composition is pleasant. There is a balance to it. There are sufficient directional changes to make things interesting.

That’s the end of this demonstration on geometric composition using Divine Proportions.

If you would like to explore this further, I suggest that you take a look at some Renaissance paintings – Leonardo da Vinci; Michelangelo; or some from the Neo-Classical period – Jacques-Louis David (The Death of Marat;The oath of the Horatii). Some other artists clearly using geometric compositions are Jean-Baptiste-Simeon Chardin, John Constable, Dominique Ingres, Jean-Honore Fragonard and Nicholas Poussin. These are some of the artists who embraced this compositional method during a time when it was still a fresh idea, not an overused and restricting one. The structure of their images is easily seen when you know that this geometric grid is responsible for the placement of figures and objects within them.

You might try printing this grid and making drawings right on it so that you can try fitting compositional elements into it. Or you might photocopy some famous Renaissance and Classical art works, then draw the grid on top to see what objects and figures align with the principle shapes of the grid.

A last word:

I enjoyed working with this type of composition for a long period of time. Later, though I decided to explore many different types of composition, I would often come back to this principle. I no longer had to draw the grid to know good placements for the picture elements of my drawings.

I find that, looking at art, the Divine Proportion pervades all European painting prior to Twentieth Century. Knowing that someone has taken such care over his composition makes me marvel at the final result; and equally, for such a structured method, I’m always awed at how much variety there is in composing with it. It’s much like a musician uses a Sonata form or a Concerto to structure their creations but there are thousands of different ones.

Rules are made to be broken so feel free to go ahead and break rules. The only caveat? You need to know the rules first in order to work with them and then bend them to your will.

Edward Abbey commenting on art

April 7, 2008

I’ve been reading a chronicle by Edward Abbey (1927 – 1989) who wrote about his experiences in the Arches country or southeastern Utah while he was a park ranger. He lived a very solitary life while there and shared his reflections on his time in Desert Solitaire, A season in the Wilderness. It’s a very powerful, sparely written book. I’m enjoying it immensely.

If you are looking for it in the Library or the Book store, it’s a Touchstone book published by Simon & Schuster in 1968.

I was especially interested in this passage which discusses petroglyphs and pictograms. The first are carved into rock (petro- Greek for rock, glyph – a drawing) and pictograms are painted on rock. The discussion in the book is a few pages long, but it was this item that I thought worthy of sharing with you:

Whether crude or elegant , representational or abstract, very old or relatively new, all of the work was done in a manner pleasing to contemporary taste, with its vogue for the stylized and primitive. The ancient canyon art of Utah belongs in that same international museum without walls which makes African sculpture, Melanesian masks, and the junkyards of New Jersey equally interesting – those voices of silence which speak to us in the first world language. As for the technical competence of the artists, its measure is apparent in the fact that these pictographs and petroglyphs though exposed to the attack of wind, sand, rain, heat, cold and sunlight for centuries still survive vivid and clear. How much of the painting and sculpture being done in America today will last – in the physical sense – for even half a century.

His commentary on the durability of art is an idea to spend some good time thinking about.

He goes on to say.

The pictures (to substitute one term for the petroglyph-pictogram combination) are found on flat surfaces along the canyon walls, often at heights now inaccessible to a man on foot. (Because of erosion.) They usually appear in crowded clusters, with figures of a later date sometimes superimposed on those of an earlier time. There is no indication that the men who carved and painted the figures made any attempt to compose them into coherent murals; the endless variety of style, subject and scale suggests the work of many individuals from different times and places who for one reason or another came by, stopped, camped for days or weeks and left a sign of their passing on the rock….

They could be the merest doodling – that is an easy first impression. Yet there’s quite a difference between scribbling on paper and on sandstone. As anyone know who has tried to carve his name in rock, the task requires persistence, patience,determination and skill. Imagine the effort required to inscribe, say, the figure of a dancer, with no tool but a flint chisel and in such a way as to make it last five hundred years.

It’s on page 101 in the chapter called Cowboys and Indians Part II in the copy I’m reading if you should wish to look up the book and read more. I don’t know if I’ve properly credited him in this blog to avoid copyright issues, but I don’t think any publisher would complain about such a short excerpt being reprinted in an laudatory manner to encourage others to read his work.

The passage made me think about the longevity of some art forms. Various types of stone and metals seem to offer centuries, even millenniums worth of durability. Fresco seems more durable than other painting mediums although works in fresco often run into difficulty if there is a problem of humidity. Oil paintings are quite durable in smaller forms, and on wooden, especially mahogany, panels. Oils on canvas are more fragile both to the elements and to damaging. The jury is still out on acrylics. By some, it’s hailed as the miracle discovery for painting of this century; but only time will tell. Anyway, some of the problems of acrylic on canvas are the same as for oils by reason of the support – the canvas is affected by humidity levels and is easily torn. Watercolour and pastels are fragile, only being supported by paper grounds.

Since much of art production throughout the ages has not been cast in stone, I’m very grateful for the museums of the world. They provide an optimal environmental condition with controlled humidity and temperature to preserve the collection of all ages of art work. I’ve spent countless hours of my spare time haunting their halls and absorbing art work that was produced before (and after) I was born.

There are petroglyphs and pictograms in many regions of the world. I’ve never seen any in real life, just through books, but I marvel at the ability of the artists to produce such interesting imagery. It reminds me of Rhoda Kellog’s research on children teaching themselves to draw (without the interference of adults telling them what to do). The similarity of man’s drawing, of man’s need to draw, of the archetypal patternings we use are all subjects of interest to me. It is, I have decided, one of the main things that distinguishes man from the other animals in the Animal Kingdom. We feel compelled to draw. As far as I know, there is no other animal that does that.

What do you think?

The web site is restored

April 2, 2008

I don’t know enough about computers to get myself out of trouble. That’s why I’m absolutely thrilled to have a wonderful nephew named Hugh. He worked web programming for a while and was very good at it. Now he’s away studying for something else completely unrelated.

I phoned him up the night I came back from my travels. As I told him my hacking news, he started to investigate the state of my site. He’s in the midst of exams and final papers, so I asked him to ignore my plight until he had finished his term.

I don’t have any idea of what he did, but it’s back up and running and all the information is there.  All of it!

I am so thankful. I can’t tell you how thankful I am.

I’m taking this as a lesson. Tomorrow I’m going to cut and paste all the text into a separate document on a different file so that if it goes down again, I won’t lose everything.

Hacked

April 1, 2008

The little blighters got me! Arghhh!

mohawk.jpg

While in Fiji just a week ago, I was approached by the manager of the resort about my paintings. I gave him my business card and invited him to look at my web site so that he would have a feel for the larger work that I did and he would be able to look at my qualifications while he was at it.

Next day, he came back to me with a doleful face.

“I hate to be the bearer of bad news, ” he said,”but your web site has been hacked . There’s nothing there.”

Later on, with his permission, I went up into his office and he showed me. There’s nothing there. Nothing except a nasty and gloating message from some silly hacker who found it delightful to put my whole website to waste.

There was nothing I could do from Fiji. I reverted to Fiji Time and went back to vacationing.

One of the first calls I made when I arrived back home on Friday was to Hugh, my nerd Nephew. As I told him my woeful tale, he was already looking up my site and trying to see if anything could be saved. He’s in the middle of exams and final papers for his first year of his Master’s studies, so I forbade him to go down that path. He’ll get to it when he’s finished at the end of April. In the meantime, I can no longer refer people to my site so that they can see what my work looks like.

“Can’t they catch the people who do this?” I complained.

“What are you going to do when you find out it is some brilliant Russian living in Vladivostok? The hacker could live anywhere in the world.”

He had a point there. What could you do, even if it was someone in mid-America?

And so I must wait for a while to reconstruct the site. Or maybe when rebuilding, I can make some changes to it!.

When one door closes, another one opens.