Friday, December 19, 2008

Color Calendar 2009: Best Color Quotes of all time

In twelve months plus one cover image, everything I've learned about halation, invisible boundaries, luminosity, pure color, parents and children, and relationships between single swatches of color is presented along with my favorite quotes on color from everyone from The Beastie Boys and John Lennon, to Josef Albers, Goethe and Kermit the Frog.

Included are a few that are not in the calendar:

“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it.”
Alice Walker quotes (American writer, b.1944)

"In visual perception a color is almost never seen as it really is - as it physically is. This fact makes color the most relative medium in art."
-Josef Albers

“The purest and most thoughtful minds are those which love color the most.”--
John Ruskin

"Mere color, unspoiled by meaning, and unallied with definite form, can speak to the soul in a thousand different ways."
Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)

"You think dark is just one color, but it ain't. There're five or six kinds of black. Some silky, some woolly. Some just empty. Some like fingers. And it don't stay still. It moves and changes from one kind of black to another. Saying something is pitch black is like saying something is green. What kind of green? Green like my bottles? Green like a grasshopper? Green like a cucumber, lettuce, or green like the sky is just before it breaks loose to storm? Well, night black is the same way. Might as well be a rainbow."
- Toni Morrison

" I think art parallels life; it is not a report on nature or on intimate disclosure of inner secrets. Color, in my opinion, behaves like man -- in two distinct ways: first in self-realization and then in the realization of relationships with others."
-Josef Albers

"I've handled colour as a man should behave. You may conclude that I consider ethics and aesthetics as one. "
-Josef Albers

"I start from experience and read...always between polarities--loud and not-loud, young and old, spring and winter. If I can make black and white behave together instead of shooting at each other only, I feel proud. "
-Josef Albers

"The human being is played upon by various influences at various stages of his life in the body. We all know what climate and music will do to create different moods, but one factor often not understood or neglected is the influence of colour. It is always there in our surroundings, in a room, apartment, or house, in our clothing and in our furnishings. It can contribute towards health or take away from it; it can cheer up or depress the emotions; it can invigorate or devitalize the body; it can give pleasure to the eyes or irritate them."
- Paul Brunton

"Color is one of the great things in the world that makes life worth living to me and as I have come to think of painting it is my efforts to create an equivalent with paint color for the world -- life as I see it. "
-Georgia O'Keeffe

"Listen to the Color of your Dreams..."
-John Lennon

"The colors of a pretty the sky
Are also on the faces.....of people ..going by
I see friends shaking hands.....sayin.. how do you do
They're really sayin......i love you."
-Louis Armstrong

"It's not easy being green"
-Kermit THE frog

"In our life there is a single color, as on an artist’s palette, which provides the meaning of life and art. It is the color of love.
-Marc Chagall"

"My skin is kind of sort of brownish pinkish yellowish white. My eyes are greyish blueish green, but I'm told they look orange in the night. My hair is reddish blondish brown, but its silver when its wet, and all the colors I am inside have not been invented yet."
— Shel Silverstein (Where the Sidewalk Ends)

""My life is very monotonous," the fox said. "I hunt chickens: men hunt me. All the chickens are just alike, and all the men are just alike. And, in consequence, I am a little bored. But if you tame me, it will be as if the sun came to shine on my life. I shall know the sound of a step that will be different from all the others. Other steps send me hurrying back underneath the ground. Yours will call me, like music, out of my burrow. And then look: you see the grain fields down yonder? [...:] The wheat fields have nothing to say to me. And that is sad. But you have hair that is the color of gold. Think how wonderful that will be when you have tamed me! The grain, which is also golden, will bring me back to the thought of you. And I shall love to listen to the wheat in the wind..." "
— Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (The Little Prince)

"Thus inevitably does the universe wear our color, and every object fall successively into the subject itself. The subject exists, the subject enlarges; all things sooner or later fall into place. As I am, so I see; use what language we will, we can never say anything but what we are."
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

"All colors made me happy: even gray."
— Vladimir Nabokov (Pale Fire (Penguin Modern Classics))

"I hunger for your sleek laugh and your hands the color of a furious harvest. I want to eat the sunbeams flaring in your beauty."
— Pablo Neruda

"He tried to imagine the sound of the color red."
— Pete Hamill (Snow in August)

"The highest goal that man can achieve is amazement."
— Goethe, The Theory of Colors

if words can make
you feel color
the essence of blackness
the brilliance
of the sun
its dying at the end of the
with its mourners
the pinks and purples
its birthing
with its
bloods and blacks
Color is what we strive for
Color is what we should die for
is what
the Painter
and the Poet
to achieve.
-Jamey Austin

"Colors are the deeds/ and sufferings of light."
— Goethe

To see the images that go with the quotes, I've posted higher resolution images of each month on the facebook color page.

This is the culmination of over a year of study with Dick Nelson. Take advantage of my 30 day money back guarantee. If you don't love it, send it back for a full refund.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Calendar coming soon from

“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it.”
Alice Walker (American writer, b.1944)

"You think dark is just one color, but it ain't. There're five or six kinds of black. Some silky, some woolly. Some just empty. Some like fingers. And it don't stay still. It moves and changes from one kind of black to another. Saying something is pitch black is like saying something is green. What kind of green? Green like my bottles? Green like a grasshopper? Green like a cucumber, lettuce, or green like the sky is just before it breaks loose to storm? Well, night black is the same way. Might as well be a rainbow. "
- Toni Morrison

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Dick Nelson

This page has been updated and is current here Dick Nelson

Dick Nelson is the teacher who deconstructed my sense of color. After his 8 week course I was for the first time able to look at colors and begin to understand how much of the three primaries each contained. I was able to understand how luminosity was created by combining colors of similar families. He taught me about halation.
Dick Nelson grew up in Hawai‘i, and after graduating from Yale University, returned home to become Chairman of the Art Department at Punahou High School in Honolulu. For 22 years, he taught everything from life drawing to art history, and of course, his passion, watercolor.

“It’s the quality of luminosity which intrigues me, and my love of seeing through one color to another, ” explains Nelson.

He is creator of the now famous Tri-Hue watercolor technique, wherein all the colors on the finished painting emerge by mixing only three colors on the palette. Since his retirement over 25 years ago, he has made Maui his home and continued his passion for education, becoming both teacher and mentor to a generation of Maui artists. [more]

Some words on Dick Nelson: of Maui's most respected artists...
... a brilliant colour guru who pontificates from a high volcano on Maui.
...opened up my mind to new ways of looking at the world of Hawaii’s greatest painters and teachers
He recently taught a workshop in Hilo. His greatest claim to fame may however be that he is the second most senior alumni to share honors with Barack Obama as a distinguished alumn of Punahou High School where he taught art.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

How I met Barack Obama's sister Maya

Last summer, in August of 2007, we had a huge anti-war art show with almost 100 artists who put up over 200 works of art for a month.

The show was called "War and Peace".

One morning days into the show, while we were hanging out in the sun room, someone said that Barack Obama's sister was in town campaigning. Everyone in the room got excited.

"Let's invite her over!"

She was able to come to the show and walk through spending almost a half hour with us. She really enjoyed it. She even said that as a school teacher she would love to use some of our art in her classroom.

This picture is in the children's studio. Over six hundred works of art from children around Maui covered the walls. The art had been made as a gift to the Dalai Lama who had visited the month before.

She was very cool-- open, sweet, intelligent, present and radiant. It was easy for me to believe, that she was family to something big, something powerful, something we haven't seen in a long time.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

32 Poles

With 32 Poles, I was going for a much more subtle effect than in the 3 other pole pages. By using a blue and orange that are complements and are closer in value and as well using a greater number of poles, the steps are more subtle and the effect is more powerful.

In addition the grid on the far left allows you to see the poles against a strong blue, strong orange as well as black, grey and white.

Friday, September 12, 2008

What's Going On? Some good advice.

I've been feeling stuck, wondering what I can do to ensure that Barack Obama becomes the next President of the United States. I have great difficulty relating to anyone who supports the Republican party at this point. These have helped:

1. I received an email advising how to and how not to talk to people who like Palin.
When Progressives make "elitist" attacks on Palin, they just reinforce the right wing narrative that the "Elitist Eastern Establishment" is the problem. Don't patronize the very people we are trying to convince.
From most people's points of view, the problem with the McCain-Palin ticket isn't so much that Palin is from a small town in rural Alaska and hasn't got the experience to run the country. The arguement that is convincing to normal people is that neither McCain nor Palin are what they claim to be - reformers or agents of change. Their campaign is being run by lobbyists for the biggest corporate interests in America--the same people who ran the Bush campaign. And they are committed to the economic policies that make average people's incomes drop and reward the very rich.
McCain and Palin act as though they identify with the interests of the guys in the NASCAR grandstand and the women at the PTA - but they are doing the bidding of the guys from Wall Street and the women wearing $4,500 outfits like the one Cindy McCain donned for the Republican Convention.
Our assault on McCain and Palin must never be done from an elitist perspective, but from a populist perspective.
2. Hope vs. Fear not Right wing vs. Left wing. Michael Lerner explains the new paradigm of American and global politics.
The central issue in politics, then, is not about left, right or center, but about hope vs. fear. If you want a world based on justice, peace, ecological sanity, human rights, civil liberties, and economic well-being for all, you have to elicit in people their capacity for hope and for love, caring and generosity. Conversely, to the extent that people think that love, caring, generosity and hope are all pipe-dreams that have no chance in “the real world,” they become attracted to politicians who speak to their fears and tell them that the ideologies of “domination over the evil others” is the sophisticated and grown-up way to understand the world. (more)
3. "Palin is Barack Obama's shadow side" by Deepak Chopra. Here is what Palin represents:
  • Small town values — a nostaligic return to simpler times disguises a denial of America’s global role, a return to petty, small-minded parochialism.
  • Ignorance of world affairs — a repudiation of the need to repair America’s image abroad.
  • Family values — a code for walling out anybody who makes a claim for social justice. Such strangers, being outside the family, don’t need to be needed.
  • Rigid stands on guns and abortion — a scornful repudiation that these issues can be negotiated with those who disagree.
  • Patriotism — the usual fallback in a failed war.
  • ”Reform” — an italicized term, since in addition to cleaning out corruption and excessive spending, one also throws out anyone who doesn’t fit your ideology.
  • more
4. Kid Rock bleeds red, white and blue. The Dark(est) (K)night by Jamey Austin.
I booed, but for the briefest of seconds wondered if someone might take offense to my response. Like they actually enjoy and support this ridiculousness. In Berkeley! I thought: it really has come to this. We're afraid to voice dissent, we're afraid to question ... (more)
John McCain is now leading Barack Obama in some polls. As Thomas Friedman said, if McCain can win this with one leg shackled by the economy and the other by the war, he should be in the Olympics.

And finally, if this isn't a wake up call from Paul Krugman:
What it says, I’d argue, is that the Obama campaign is wrong to suggest that a McCain-Palin administration would just be a continuation of Bush-Cheney. If the way John McCain and Sarah Palin are campaigning is any indication, it would be much, much worse. (more)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

El color es relativo

Does anyone who speaks Spanish care to translate? Color is relative is mentioned in an Argentine publication-- Tam Tam.

Nuestra percepción del brillo y la luminosidad de un color depende de sus colores vecinos. Lo podés comprobar con algunos pequeños experimentos. En el primero, deslizando el mouse sobre el panel central cambiás el color del fondo. El segundo es similar pero ofrece la gama completa entre el amarillo y el azul. El tercero trabaja con grises. En todos los casos fijate cómo los colores invariables parecen más apagados, más oscuros, más vivaces o más intensos según cuáles sean sus vecinos. Este fenómeno de la visión ayuda a explicar algunas ilusiones ópticas; por ejemplo, aquella en la que dos casilleros de un tablero de ajedrez están pintados con el mismo tono de gris aunque no lo parezca para nada.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Comments on Color is Relative

Some of the best comments so far have come from a community blog called metafilter.

One of the members of this very smart community presented this illusion in which square A and square B are the exact same shade of grey.

Other comments include:
"When painting in Photoshop I find I have to set the little swatch to what looks like a darker color than I need. Large areas of the same color look lighter."

"This is why it is important to rough in and develop your painting as a whole, and not to zero in on one part for detailing. If you do that, you may be in for a color surprise when you fill in what's around it.

"The question is whether qualia exist, whether the subjective gut feelings of the taste of chocolate, the color red, the feel of your favorite sweater - have some intrinsic existence or only have meaning relative to other perceptions."

Great stuff. I've never heard of qualia. There are also mentions of Dan Flavin. I had never been exposed to Flavin, however I see the connection.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Whats the Point? Back to the Basics

For all of you saying "What's the Point?" this release is dedicated to you. The point is, you are not seeing what you think you are seeing. Your eyes are constantly adjusting to the context around them.

In the image at left, the two swatches are the exact same color. Now that I have told you that, you can see that. You probably even predicted there was some trick to this and guessed that the two swatches were the same shade of gray.

Let go of your pretense. When you let your eyes see on their own, the two swatches look different even though they are the exact same shade of gray.

They look different because of the background color around them. We accommodate with our eyes. If we see a dark background, we make the lighter spot brighter, appearing lighter than it actually is. And just the same, on a light backround, the same gray appears darker than it actually is.

These excercises are not answers, these are tools to help you train your eyes. As you move your mouse along the array on the left of ten shades of gray, the background matches the swatch you choose. As well, the whole in the middle of the upright rectangles also matches the swatch you chose and thus the background.

Our perception of color is adjusting constantly.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Color is relative, "(Yellow to) Blue Poles" pre-release

When you click on a bar from the color array, the background of the webpage will match the color of the bar you chose.

There are sixteen steps of poles. The background of the page entirely affects our perception of the color of each pole. Sometimes, a yellow pole looks as if it is glowing in blue.

I originally created ten poles with yellow on the left and blue on the right. The blue is a combination of Cyan and Magenta. The Blue and Yellow that I chose are actually complements.

My roommate Tessa asked me tonight, "Where is the green if it's mixing blue and yellow?"

If we had been mixing Cyan and Yellow, we would have gotten Green. As it is, we are toning. As we move from parents who are complements, the children gray.

When I made the ten poles and checked to see how the colors would appear on the web (primed for 256 colors) , the hexadecimal code was all mumbo jumbo.

I wanted clean language. I wanted a progression of color steps that matched on the web as I was seeing in Adobe Illustrator.

I made 16 poles, so that it matched the number of poles within the scheme of the binary color scheme. The progression is hexadecimal codes.

It's beautiful how it counts down on the left four digits and counts up on the right two digits: #FFFF00, #EEEE11, #DDDD22, #CCCC33, #BBBB44, #AAAA55, #999966, #888877, #777788, #666699, #5555AA, #4444BB, #3333CC, #2222DD, #1111EE, #0000FF

If you click on one of the blue poles on the far right-- say the third from the right, yellow suddenly seems to extend all the way across. And the same is true on the opposite side. If you choose the bar just two or three steps in from the left, from true blue, all of the bars to the left will appear yellow. And those to the right will appear blue.

Halation Horizons in the NY Times for Obama

In this article, the writer is juxtaposing Obama's journey to the classic American outsider icon. I was amazed to see the background of the image contain the straight horizontal lines I've been obsessed with from Dick's homework assignment.

In the class, we took the colors from a matrix (groups of families of color based on four chosen outside corners) and put those colors down as straight horizontal lines. (see my many posts of halation horizons)

I am very curious if this piece was created using a matrix of colors...

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Happy Birthday Dad: Plum Halation

[the definitive page for halation has moved]

I was thinking my dad would like this set of colors, no idea why, but it's his birthday. Hey, Happy Birthday Dad.

When you move your mouse over the individual swatches, the background of the webpage changes to that color. As you move the mouse around to each swatch, you can see halations in the swatches.

The colors seem to change in the matrix as the background changes. The lower set of four boxes, is the same swatch set as the middle of the matrix above.

I had been curious how the middle boxes within the matrixes would respond without their parents surrounding them and keeping them separate from the background. Mostly, they serve as matching swatches to watch how different they look than the same swatches above as the background changes.

The Plum page is dedicated to my dad. He was born in 1939. Happy Birthday and may all your dreams come true!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008 launched

Color is Relative is a website dedicated to showing luminosity achieved through simple color combinations. On the site, the image at left is interactive. By moving the mouse over a single swatch the background color of the page will change to the same color. The effect is intended to show the impact of changing the context of color.

In the next month, I will be releasing my next series of paintings that will be based on the color theory I have learned from Dick Nelson.

You can also visit my color page on facebook. Seeing Things, Color is Relative.

The grid seems to change color as you move the mouse over each swatch. Take your time.

This is the alpha version, please let me know your reaction and make comments.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Old House in San Francisco circa 2001

This is the view overlooking my house in San Francisco from 1996-2001 with tons of my art hanging outside on the walls.

I remember thinking I should have painted something for the roof, but in reality, I had nothing that big to put up there. That took 'til moving to Oakland when I moved into the breathingSpace and made Claming Space from the 2003 gallery.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Much Love and Repect Hillary T-Shirts

Everybody kept talking about it. Hillary has to stop. Why is she still running? Come on girl, give it up.

I've been a big Obama supporter since I read his first book after seeing him at the Democratic Convention.

The reason I have always been into politics is because of my Mom. I still remember the night Carter lost to Reagan in 1980 because my Mom's birthday party was on election day that year.

The line was electric a year ago when I told her the depth of my support for Barack Obama.

She explained her support of Hillary as this:
Her entire Modus Operandi in politics has been about supporting the equality of women.
Hillary is so much the fruition of so many woman over so many years.

Any Obama lovers who want to hate on Hillary, aren't really getting the message.
I for one am proud that she played hard as long as she could. She played til the end.

Some will say she played a dirty game, I say she played well.

Much love and respect Hillary. Thanks for playing hard.
Thanks for representing.

In honor of my Moms... I made some thank you Hillary, much love and respect T-shirts.
Check 'em out.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Painting "Pascal"

All this time, I thought he was "Pascal". With an "S", not Pacal. I was wrong.

I named this painting after the Mayan emperor Pacal whose tomb inscription read to me like layers in my artwork. Turns out, somewhere along the line, I dropped in an "S".

When Eric and Andy got the painting "Pascal" they asked if I would send them a little something about the piece; an artist's interpretation, or comment on the work.

Now that they have returned from a year trip around the world, and are about to have a baby, ahem.... yes it has been years, I thought it might be time to finally deliver the goods.

The first thing to report is that the painting was meant to be called Pacal. Now that it's been years, I suppose the purple figure with his arms outstretched (who's namesake is the painting) will continue to be called "Pascal", as will the painting:
************The Painting Pascal******************

The painting Pascal was one of the first I did using the concept of pouring plastic resins, most commonly used for making sculpture, onto canvases into shapes outlined by caulking. The technique of using caulking to shape an image in plastic on canvas, to my knowledge, is still original.

The first layers of Pascal were lots of my own glyphs done in pen. Each layer of the painting is building up to the creation of Pascal, the figure. Each layer of abstraction is "striving for identity of self" as we all are when we are in the process of attaining consciousness.

Pascal is on a journey; a journey into new worlds of the unexpected where he will encounter new beings and new experiences. Some will challenge him and he will grow, others will validate his passion for his existence.

In the painting, his full sense of intuition, seems to extend out like a cone from his third eye. His intuitive center is clear and beaming. That lighter shade of purple inside his head that looks like a reflection is made of pearlescent pigment powder that I sprinkled onto the plastic resin as it was drying. The pearlescent powder extends down his spinal column. At his root chakra, again we find clarity and light.

The figure's arms are outstretched, almost as if he is using his hands to control his direction. With eyes wide open to experience, and with a firm sense of being held by fate, Pascal has his hands on the controls of his choices. He is going to other worlds, other paradigms of existence where his intuition, root and power of choice will guide him.

My intention with this painting was to represent and honor the Mayan Emperor Pacal's powerful disposition towards his actively changing reality.

And now that it's been years and Eric and Andy have returned and are embarking on a new journey. Transformation abounds.

Blessings to new life.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Pacal: The Mayan Emperor

I came came to grips with the image of Pacal's tomb when I arrived at my guesthouse on my stay at Tikal in Guatemala. The rooms were white clay pods and an American Vietnam veteran lived in the back spending his nights staring out through his telescope at the stars. Someone had drawn with a black pen, a perfect representation of Pacal's tomb on to the white clay wall of the pod I slept in.

As I fell asleep I would see the outline of Emperor Pacal, reclining but with his head forward, moving his arms, surrounded by magical forms and dancing symbology.

Tikal is one of the greatest jungle-pyramid worlds that one can visit. While I prefer the vastness of Angkor Wat, I was enraptured by the detail of information and glyphs that depicted the Mayan's deep understanding of life, science, and spirituality. Mayan astrology is interpretted here.

Pacal's tomb was discovered in Palenque (in Chiapas, Mexico) in 1952. The Emperor Pacal died on August 31, AD 683 at eighty years of age after ruling for 63 years. detail picture of Pacal's Tomb

Interpretations of what the figure of Pacal on his tomb meant have been helpful, for instance:
  • In the Maya dialects, "bone" and "seed" are synonymous.
  • The bone piercing Pacal's nose as the symbol of rebirth.
  • The object depicted above Pacal is the Tree of Life from which he is said to be falling.
However, he is not falling.

He is no more moving than the universe around him is. The object below him that gets interpreted as the setting sun is escorting him. He embraces his fate. His arms navigate the changing complexity of his surroundings.

Falling asleep with the glyph of Pacal painted on the wall, I found the that the inscription on his tomb was not so much about death, but about the process of transformation, any transformation.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Color Magic: How many colors do you see?

I just completed Dick Nelson's color class and have had my sensibilities of color completely deconstructed. Nelson was a founder of Art Maui 30 years ago and is a former student of Josef Albers.

Try this exercise:

[embed code]

This is a natural phenomenon of our eyes. The background, or context of a color, affects how we see it. What the evolutionary traits of this are, I have no idea, but we've learned in the class how a painter can use these phenomenon to create luminosity-- vibrancy among colors.

The homework in the previous exercise was to make 4 different colors look as if there were only 3. The effect is not based on any tricks, if anything it is simply the illusion created by the natural state of our eyes. Our eyes are constantly adjusting not just to the light in a room but as well to the variance of color.

Impressionist painters used a similar effect in their work.

These insights on color have profoundly affected my own work.

Sunday, April 13, 2008


Meet two colors, we'll call them the parents.
On the left, Purple, on the right, Blue.

By mixing each color equally, we achieve the middle child.

By adding the middle child and creating an array you will see halation.

The middle color seems to vibrate a little. If you look longer, you will note that the middle swatch of color has a little of the purple on the right and a little blue on the left.

Here's a full array of different colors with equal steps of 5 children.

How do solid colors start to look a little 3 dimensional?
Where does this gradient come from?

The effect is counterintuitive. Each of the seven rectangles above contains a unique and solid block of color. Each square is a single color and yet each appears not to be.

It's beautiful.

The colors begin to vibrate beyond their individual recognition. They suddenly know about eachother and they become luminous.

This is called halation.

Halation, as an artistic term, is the spontaneous effect of the eyes spreading color beyond it's actual realm.

When you start to see the individual color swatches as gradients, you are seeing halation. It's a phenomenon of our eyes to find a vibrancy in specific placements of colors. In the examples above, the placement of each swatch was based on equal steps to parents. Halation also occurs between equal steps between hues of equal value
definition of halation