Colorful Fridays–Soapy Violet Make-up

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“A color is as strong as the impression it creates.” Ivan Le Lorraine Albright (from Susie Gadea)

Organic mineral compounded Manganese Violet is short on talk from artists.  Few have much to say about this rich reddish purple and direct compliment of Chromium Green. Manganese Violet has been around since 1868 where it was first discovered in Germany and called Nuremberg Violet.  Winsor Newton introduced it to England in 1890. This purple hue is non-toxic and shows up in a number of unusual places.

Screen shot 2014-01-31 at 8.46.48 AMVasari Colors rates Manganese Violet as “Gemlike in mass tone” and “makes pinkish violet tints when mixed with white.”  Gamblin’s website says Manganese Violet is, “ a moderate purple that is redder and duller than Heliotrope, bluer lighter and stronger than average amethyst, bluer and stronger than Cobalt Violet, and bluer and deeper than average lilac.”  Holliday Pigments gives Manganese Violet a good semi-transparent rating.  According to, Manganese Violet, “has poor hiding power and has not been widely used.”

If you don’t wish to make use of your Manganese Violet pigment in paintings, it can always be used to make a nice non-toxic eye shadow.  No eye shadow?  Well, the pigment is also good for tinting hand made soap.  Gardeners will find Manganese Violet is a vital mineral in the diet of African Violets but it’s not for the color of the blooms.  Manganese Violet is essential for the healthy green color of the leaves of African Violets.  Maybe African Violet leaves are Chromium Green.

Here is a demonstration of a Manganese Violet wash:

Missing the Muse Point

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“O! For a muse of fire that would ascend the brightest heaven of invention.”  William Shakespeare (from The Painter’s Keys)

Much has been written and will continue to be written on what the muse is or isn’t.  Do all artists have one?  Is it a person?  A place? A thing?  An idea?  Many writers on art, who do not think of themselves as artists, tend to view the muse as a person.  This or that person is the muse for this or that artist.  If an artist has a love interest, the love interest is thought to be the muse.  Actually, nothing could be further from the truth.  The muse is far more and far less defined than anything physically describable.

The Wall Street Journal has an article titled, “Where have all the muses gone?” by Lee Siegel with a detailed account of the “so-called” muses of many famous artists through out the centuries.  Siegel makes a very enlightening statement midway through the article, “The original muse could not of been further from an exemplar of style.  Her function was not to inspire imitation but to create new insights and new artistic forms.  She was effectively invisible, a gust of divine wind that blew through the human vessel lucky enough to be graced by her attention.”

Perhaps, the muse is not the actual person, place, thing or idea.  Perhaps, the muse is the “Divine Wind” blowing through what is the designated muse.  The real muse is the inspiration itself.  The Divine Wind has highlighted the object with an aura of inspiration that draws like a magnet.  The Divine Wind is an amorphous thing explaining why some artists seem to flit from muse to muse gaining a reputation of fickleness.  What appears to be fickleness may merely be the following of the Divine Wind.

The Divine Wind for some artists may stay in one place or on one person for a lifetime.  To others it may blow steady in many directions.  The important point for artists is to remain open and aware.  The muse can’t be pinned down.  To place the muse label on any physical form is to miss the point.  The nebulous muse is everywhere.  All that’s needed is a bit of a windcatcher.

Outside Inside

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“It is our choices that show what we truly are far more than our abilities.” J.K. Rowling (from Skinnyartist)

What happens when the Insiders become stale and must seek new inspiration?  The only option is to look outside.  It has always been so and now more than ever.  Insiders jump from fad to fad, novelty to novelty, always searching for the next greatest thing in art.  There is no backbone or grounding to those who are constantly seeking the new and different.  There are no depths to plunder.  Lacking that core of inner strength for guidance, the inside must find other sources.  As the traditional centers of art no longer hold the power and the purse strings they once did, art is thriving on the outside.

In an article for The Atlantic, Sarah Boxer has written about the wave of artists who do not come from the Insider Art Schools or the Insider Art World.  Boxer states, “Art fairs, biographies, retrospectives and collections are springing up in the name of outsider art.”  Boxer goes on to talk about the difficulty this presents for the insiders and states “There is something about outsider art that still eludes the insiders.”  Insiders apparently just don’t get outsiders.

Outsiders, by the very fact that they are outsiders, choose to seek their own counsel.  Not being privy to what is going on “inside” gives outsiders the freedom to work without the constraints of trying to fit in with the current fashion.  Most outsiders likely don’t care what is or isn’t “in” at the moment.  Outsiders follow what is in their own heart, their own vision.  Outsiders are not concerned with the hearts and visions of the insiders or anybody else.  Outsiders are true to themselves.  While insiders don’t understand, they do their level best to bring the outsiders inside for the next latest fad.  For the outsiders, the dilemma is to remain outside while going inside.

Selfie Saturation

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“I love how the most insecure people on Facebook are the ones who post a new self-portrait every 6 hours.” Unknown (from

Who hasn’t been bombarded with selfies lately?  Everywhere you turn someone somewhere is posting a ridiculous image of him or herself doing something amazingly unentertaining.  Selfies are the visual counterpart on social media of the numerous people who write every detail of their personal day, as they go about it.  “I had toast for breakfast.”   The selfie posters show pictures of themselves eating the toast instead of writing about it.  Occasionally, someone happens to post a selfie that is actually very entertaining but they are the exception.

Journalist, Jerry Saltz, has an article titled, “Art at Arm’s Length: A History of the Selfie,” for, stating the selfie phenomena is, “a very big deal for the art world.”  Saltz says the selfie is “a new visual genre.”  Can he be serious?  Maybe the selfie has social or anthropological significance, but to the art world?  Will we soon be attending gallery openings of selfie exhibits?  Possibly.  But does this not appear to be another fad?  Another novelty that will soon wear off as we get tired of people’s obsession with taking pictures of themselves?

The article makes comparisons with Van Gogh’s self portraits and other masters to today’s selfie pics.  Some selfie’s are witty but compared to Van Gogh?  That’s seems a bit like comparing The Real Housewives to Shakespeare.   Rembrandt’s self portraits are nothing short of amazing.  Bonnard’s self portrait brought tears to my eyes at the depth of emotion evident.  So far, not one selfie has produced even a hint of a tear.  That could change as the stage of total selfie overload is reached bringing on tears of sheer frustration.  Anybody else have selfie saturation?

Sunday Slideshow–Lily pads of Reelfoot

Lily pads of Reelfoot

Most of my art focuses on Reelfoot Lake in Northwest Tennessee, a unique lake formed by the New Madrid (Missouri) Earthquakes of 1811-1812.  The New Madrid quakes are still the largest earthquakes to ever hit the United States mainland.  For more on Reelfoot, go here and here.  For more on the New Madrid earthquakes go here.

Weekend Inspiration–The Geometry of Art

Is there a numeric formula to art, conscious or unconscious?  Possibly.  Having never thought much about this idea, I am going back to look at paintings to see if I do it unconsciously.  As I operate mainly in the right brain and don’t think much about left brain activity like numbers or numeric formulas, I would have to have done it unconsciously! It will be interesting to see if it happened accidentally.  I would love to know if others find this happening in their art, consciously or unconsciously.

Colorful Fridays–Transparently Healing White

Not only is Zinc White not toxic, if you are big on plein air painting, it doubles as sunscreen and topical treatment for poison ivy, as well.

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“The first of all colors is white … We shall set down white as the representation of light, without which no color can be seen; yellow for earth, green for water, blue for air, red for fire; and black for total darkness.” Leonardo Da Vinci (

Many artists’ paints must be used with caution because of the potentially toxic properties of the pigments.  Not so with Zinc White.  Not only is Zinc White not toxic, should you happen to get poison ivy while out doing a little plein air painting, you can reach into your paint box and pull out your handy tube of Zinc White.  Slather it on and continue painting.  Suppose the sun is beating down but just a few more minutes and the painting will be complete.  A little Zinc White on the nose for sun protection and carry on.  And that Zinc White comes in mighty handy if you are looking for transparent lightening of the paint without the heaviness and chalkiness of Titanium.

Winsor Newton states Zinc White is “cold white” in appearance and “is particularly suitable for mixtures with cool colors and for glazing and scumbling techniques as it does not over power other hues.”  Golden Paints states Zinc White has “1/10th the tinting power of titanium white,” and “Zinc White is the best choice for use with the highly transparent hues”.  Golden Paints also states, “with Zinc White you have more control.”  Zinc White won’t take over the paint and turn it into a pastel quite so quickly as the much stronger Titanium white.

Artist’s experiments have concluded much the same thing.  A Blog Related to Art finds Zinc White has a cooler and bluer effect on paint mixes with greater transparency and states, “you can more easily make small adjustments to a paint’s lightness without accidently making it too light.”  On her blog, Lezley Davidson says, “skin tones are great ideas for Zinc Oxide when you need a white.”  Samantha Dasilva makes a comparison of Zinc White and Titanium and concludes Zinc White “slightly effects the value of the color” and is “highly transparent” and “great for glazing.”

With Zinc White, the tinting is mild and won’t affect the basic value of the paint.  It is excellent for transparency and glazing, particularly with the effects of skin tones.  Zinc White is the best choice for light airy whites and those with a bluer or cooler look.  Zinc White won’t give that thick opaque look that Titanium White is well known for.  If you don’t want to overpower your work with white, then go for the Zinc.  And if not, you can always add it to your First Aid Kit.  Along with poison ivy and sunburn, Zinc White is great on that diaper rash you got after wading through the poison ivy to reach that sunny spot you sweltered in all day while painting your fabulous plein air creation.  The things we do for art!

Grumbacher demonstrates mixing with Zinc White:

To buy pure zinc oxide pigment go to Amazon

Matters of the Artful Heart

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“To send light into the darkness of men’s hearts – such is the duty of the artist.”  ~Schumann (from

As research continues into how the brain responds to art, one journalist is questioning whether art is being reduced to a basic scientific formula.  Why do we need to know how the brain responds to different types or styles of art?  Does this matter to artists or art lovers?

Tiffany Jenkins of The Scotsman, has an article titled, “Art is more than brain deep.”  Jenkins cites research being carried out at University College London by Professor Semir Zeki on neuroaesthetics.  According to Jenkins, Professor Zeki is working to define how and what in the brain determines beauty.  Apparently defining beauty by the brain’s reaction will assist artists, galleries and assorted “others” interested in making, marketing or presenting art in the decision process of what is defined as “beautiful.”

Jenkins is right in her argument that art should not be reduced to a scientific formula but does that really matter?  A scientific formula based on brain reaction does not necessarily follow that the heart will also react.  A work can create a brain response that may or may not be reciprocated by the heart.  Scientific formula based art will still lack heart.  Any art without heart will likely not speak to another heart.  Art decisions made by true artists and art lovers will be made from the heart, not the brain.  It is great to understand brain responses to art, but the most important response is and has always been the response of the heart.  Is anyone studying that response?  It’s the only one that matters.

The Artfully Unique Brain

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“A work of art is the unique result of a unique temperament.” Oscar Wilde (from Brainyquote)

Does art have the power to reach the brain in unique ways?  Do certain artworks directly connect with the deep inner recesses of the brain?  Does art have a brain pathway to who we are as unique individuals?  These are the questions asked by a team of neuroscientists in a recent research project.  The findings suggest a brain connection to how people respond to different types of art that is as unique as the individual.

The Arts Journal has posted an article appearing in the Pacific Standard by Tom Jacobs titled, “Mapping the Brain’s Response to Art.”  Jacobs sums up the latest research at New York University’s Center for Brain Imaging by a team headed by Edward Vessel and first appearing in Frontiers of Neuroscience.  Vessel’s team mapped brain responses to the viewing of art in individuals.  The findings show the brain has a distinct reaction to certain works of art.  Each person’s reaction is directly related to the unique identity of the individual.

It would appear from this research that a universal style or type of art may not be possible as the reactions to different works of art were as different as the people themselves.  The researchers were able to show the exact activation of certain parts of the brain to the art.  They found the reaction to be unpredictable in which work of art would set it off in each person.

Art unequivocally produces a brain connection creating the response of a moving experience.  The reactions, according to the research, suggest why some art appeals to some and not to others.  This confirms art as vital to human life, to who we are as people.  It also explains why some people have the ability to connect with an eggbeater as art, while others do not.  Therefore, unique artists can uniquely continue creating unique art.  It is likely there are unique people whose unique brains uniquely respond to the unique work of a unique artist with a unique temperament.

*photo is a unique strand of Spanish moss

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