April 17, 2012

And that Wraps Up Cambridge

I picked up my abstract show yesterday at the Cambridge Centre for the Arts.  I have to thank Soheila Esfahani for her work and her good eye.  She mixed and matched my paintings a lot better than I could have and hung and labelled everything impeccably.  Thanks Soheila!

I also need to thank Sophie McCann and everyone else at the centre for making the experience a great one.  Any of you artists out there who are looking for a professional place to show, I highly recommend the centre.

Strata Gallery and the Guelph Arts Council

I'm happy to announce that I am now represented in Elora, Fergus, and the rest of Centre Wellington by Strata Gallery in Elora.  Strata has recently relocated to a beautiful space at 62 Metcalfe Street, on Elora's main drag.

On Friday the gallery opens a show of paintings by Tina Newlove.  From the very quick peek I got of them yesterday at the gallery, they look stunning.  And if all goes well, if I can pull it off this last week before we leave for Valencia, I should have a piece or two hanging, too.

Also, I finally managed to get my butt downtown to the Guelph Arts Council last week and make myself a member.  I look forward to working with the council and perhaps using it as an excuse to get out of my head every so often and give something back to the community.

April 8, 2012

Book Review: Margaret Livingstone, Vision and Art

Before dismissing this book as obscure, consider how little we know about vision - both on the science and art fronts - and just how critical seeing is to most of us most of the time.

Margaret Lawrence does a great job of hammering home the difference between colour and luminance (or value). The difference is simple. Think of an image and strip away the colour. The remaining black and white is the luminance. If you've ever seen a painter squinting at a scene, it's the luminance they're after.

It doesn't make sense to me that the brain processes colour and luminance in different areas, separated in fact by inches, and that the luminance part is evolutionarily much older and important, but that is the case. The science says colour is associated with "what" things are, while luminance is associated with "where" things are situated in a field. You can kinda imagine how a sense of what leads to more refined identification and language, but how a sense of where leads to basic navigation and decipherment.

This has interesting results. Equally luminant colours generate a trippy feeling of vibration and motion. That's because the What system picks up things the Where system can't see.

Supposedly if you were to work entirely from the higher-evolved What system, you'd get something akin to cubism. "Drawings by patients who have suffered damage to their parietal lobes (the higher centres of the Where system) show spatial imprecision that is interestingly similar to Cubism," Lawrence explains.

In conveying perspective, it's the Where system that's engaged, and the task if you break it down is formidable: "Artists must look at a three-dimensional scene with their two-dimensional retinas and then generate a two-dimensional painting that appears three-dimensional to viewers who look at it with their two-dimensional retinas." It's shading, a trick to generate luminance change, that achieves an illusion of depth. Equiluminance shimmers but it also flattens.

Eliminating detail, oddly, also contributes to a sense of three-dimensionality. That's because blurriness makes it impossible for our brains to use stereopsis, the slight shift in perspective generated by the distance between the eyes. Go figure!

The point of all this is that every graphic, painting, and illustration - whether by an artist or advertiser - is an optical illusion, and if employed effectively a subliminal message. Like knowing how to read the label on a can of chili, it's probably worth grasping a bit of the decoding.