Science Themed Original Painting

    • Hi Sabine,
      Thanks for the mention. I want people to see my work, and I’m especially tickled when those people include a number of other scientists.

    • Hi Sabine,
      Thanks for the mention. I want people to see my work, and I’m especially tickled when those people include a number of other scientists.

  1. These are phenomenal. I like all of them, love a few – on number of levels. Why is it always the most expensive ones I desire the most? I have an old work of yours…and coveted another painting you did a long, long time ago. I feel blessed to have seen some of your early work and now, well, All I can say is “Wow!” I’ve never seen music portrayed in art, as in “Horn Solo.” This is very unique and powerful work. I’m going to take another look to see if I can find something that is with my price range, but if I had an extra few grand, I’d have at least one of these in my collection.

    • Hi Rachel, I’m glad you’re enjoying the exhibit online.
      Most of my friends in apartments seem to gravitate towards my very large paintings.

      I think thisbe due to the way they look online and in photos (and the big ones are where I focus my professional photography budget). If you get the chance, try to view some of the smaller ones in person or at least in a zoomed view. I think little pieces like Green Functions and Associations are among my best work.

      And they are easy to carry.

    • I haven’t put together a section on yellowing because there are too many possible causes. Siccative oils harden through a process of oxidative degradation and crosslinking. The molecules break apart and reform into new molecules. For the siccative oil molecule to become yellow over time, some of this hardening would have to make new molecules with several double bonds in a row, perhaps including nitrogen or oxygen from the air. Note that poppy oil, with fewer double bonds to start with, also becomes less yellow over time.

      In reality it’s more complicated than simply looking at the siccative oil molecules in a particular oil. Why? The oils have to be extracted from seeds somehow. Metal and stone presses leave behind chemical traces, heat and chemical extraction make chemical changes, etc. The oils we get to work with carry traces of their process history, and that information is generally not disclosed on the bottle. Sometimes acid is added to the oils in processing. Nitric or sulfuric acid will also contribute a yellow color.

      Short answer – the best advice I can give is to try an oil, and see what happens. I would love to see a side by side study of various painter’s oils, spectroscopically monitoring the visible absorption over time, with a parallel at changes in the IR/Raman that correlate to yellowing. However without knowing the process that put the oil into the jar, I don’t think a study like that would be meaningful.

  2. If there are any artists out there interested in: seeing how the Materials Science collaboration develops; being part of the collaboration; being part of a data-themed exhibit, please drop a note or something so I can find you. We’re exploring a bunch of ideas right now, and I can’t guarantee anything, but interest on both sides is critical to getting something good to happen.

  3. If there are any artists out there interested in: seeing how the Materials Science collaboration develops; being part of the collaboration; being part of a data-themed exhibit, please drop a note or something so I can find you. We’re exploring a bunch of ideas right now, and I can’t guarantee anything, but interest on both sides is critical to getting something good to happen.

  4. A perfectly wonderful work of art.. As a person who has done (more than a little) work with DNA, and who becomes excited about trees, and the special properties of materials – “Tree of Life” is unique and very uplifting. Oh, to have this on my Gallery wall…

    • Hi Rachel, I was actually planning to do a series of 10 to 15 of these. They’re kind of fun to do. Big ones, small ones, simple or complex. You used to paint some – want to come over and have a go at one? Wear old clothes. I still haven’t mastered the whole “neatness counts” thing. (Went to my first big scientific meeting in grad school with data glued to the seat of my slacks)

  5. A perfectly wonderful work of art.. As a person who has done (more than a little) work with DNA, and who becomes excited about trees, and the special properties of materials – “Tree of Life” is unique and very uplifting. Oh, to have this on my Gallery wall…

    • Hi Rachel, I was actually planning to do a series of 10 to 15 of these. They’re kind of fun to do. Big ones, small ones, simple or complex. You used to paint some – want to come over and have a go at one? Wear old clothes. I still haven’t mastered the whole “neatness counts” thing. (Went to my first big scientific meeting in grad school with data glued to the seat of my slacks)

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    • Thank you Kathryn. It’s always good to get feedback (especially positive) on ideas that are new for me. I actually really like to paint landscapes, but so much has already been done in the landscape genre. The ideas in some of these paintings are my own way of reinventing the genre and keeping it fresh – unusual materials, extruded shapes, active optics etc.
      I’ve also enjoyed my newbie lurkage in the ART group. Maybe it’s time to become a bit more active.

      • I love your innovative work. I am utilizing the color studies I have done and abstract information to create more expressive work that has a subtle commentary on social concerns with some humor. I just love the fact that I am retired and working full time. It is my gift to myself after a long time of sacrifice.

  8. Thank you Kathryn. It’s always good to get feedback (especially positive) on ideas that are new for me. I actually really like to paint landscapes, but so much has already been done in the landscape genre. The ideas in some of these paintings are my own way of reinventing the genre and keeping it fresh – unusual materials, extruded shapes, active optics etc.
    I’ve also enjoyed my newbie lurkage in the ART group. Maybe it’s time to become a bit more active.

    • I love your innovative work. I am utilizing the color studies I have done and abstract information to create more expressive work that has a subtle commentary on social concerns with some humor. I just love the fact that I am retired and working full time. It is my gift to myself after a long time of sacrifice.

  9. The use of lenses is unique. I find that making paint interact with it self also creates unique dimensions, light play and wonder what lenses would do. How would I get these lenses? I would like to try something. Your work has really taken on a great direction since I first found you on redbubble.com

    • Hi Kathy;
      I understand the interest you have in making paint interact with itself. Acrylic paint especially has a range of compatable media which dry transparent or nearly transparent. Acrylic has a high refractive index for a polymer (plastic), and acrylic plastic is sometimes used in low cost lenses instead of glass. This means that curved lens-like shapes made from transparent acrylic media can also have some of the same effects as lenses.
      Think about the effects you could get combining shaped acrylic media with acrylic lenses! If you take transparent heavy gel and rake it with a fine toothed tool, the little ridges will reflect light back and forth and give you glowing stripes of light at some angles. This is a weak form of a property called “waveguiding”.
      Glass has a slightly higher refractive index and will bend light more than acrylic. Adding in glass provides and extra dimension of light manipulation to explore.

      I’ve found two good sources for inexpensive lenses and for optical grab bags that are good for artists. The first is Surplus shed http://www.surplusshed.com
      Look for their “lenses by the pound” product here: http://www.surplusshed.com/pages/item/l9999.html

      The other is American Science and Surplus: http://www.sciplus.com/
      They have more of a selection if you want to purchase acrylic lenses or other plastic optics in bulk. They also have more random stuff.

      • They are beautiful. I am a scientist mathematician with an artistic side I am trying to liberate… I could look at your trees for ages. If I could afford one I would want it at least 1.5m x 1.5m or bigger!

        Keep painting!

        • Thanks Barbara, This is my current project, painting 10 – 20 of these trees to explore the thematic/symbolic ideas where tree forms are used and to also explore different media. As far as liberating an artistic side, the key for me was just being willing to make a lot of bad paintings the first year or two. That’s how you learn and it gets better.

          • Lol, sounds like me all right. I’m trying my hand at jewellery making and I seem to be learning much more about how NOT to do things & what doesn’t work, than what does…. But I am keeping all my efforts, maybe progress will show in time! Maybe I should label them with dates?

      • They are beautiful. I am a scientist mathematician with an artistic side I am trying to liberate… I could look at your trees for ages. If I could afford one I would want it at least 1.5m x 1.5m or bigger!

        Keep painting!

        • Thanks Barbara, This is my current project, painting 10 – 20 of these trees to explore the thematic/symbolic ideas where tree forms are used and to also explore different media. As far as liberating an artistic side, the key for me was just being willing to make a lot of bad paintings the first year or two. That’s how you learn and it gets better.

          • Lol, sounds like me all right. I’m trying my hand at jewellery making and I seem to be learning much more about how NOT to do things & what doesn’t work, than what does…. But I am keeping all my efforts, maybe progress will show in time! Maybe I should label them with dates?

  10. Have you ever thought about creating an e-book or guest authoring on other sites?
    I have a blog centered on the same subjects you discuss and
    would love to have you share some stories/information.
    I know my visitors would enjoy your work.
    If you are even remotely interested, feel free to send me
    an e-mail.

  11. Have you ever thought about creating an e-book or guest authoring on other sites?
    I have a blog centered on the same subjects you discuss and
    would love to have you share some stories/information.
    I know my visitors would enjoy your work.
    If you are even remotely interested, feel free to send me
    an e-mail.

  12. Hello there! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that would be ok. I’m definitely enjoying your blog and look forward to new posts.

  13. Hello there! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that would be ok. I’m definitely enjoying your blog and look forward to new posts.

  14. It comes as no surprise Tom me that Marlene has an encyclopedic grasp of art and painting. Marlene Burns is a true treasure.

  15. Thank you Marlene for putting into perspective how the Spirit and the artist co-create together … great interview and interesting perspectives.

  16. Interesting interview. Firstly I was choked, reading about the availability of mentors and classical trainers and great education at an early age, made me realise what I have missed. As I read on, i felt admiration and a synomony with your creative urges, the admiration was for your determination, which your early training may have instilled in you, but nevertheless, you went for what you felt was most natural and important to you to be able to be true to yourself and your spiritual essence. love your abstract work. I felt inspired by the time i reached the end of the interview. :))

  17. Marlene is a wonderful inspiration to me. Not only is she an amazing artist, she is very supportive of those who are coming up around her. I’m in awe of her ability to make a living through her art, while staying true to herself. I’m really glad to have “met” her, if only online. Great interview!

  18. thanks to regina, first and foremost for honoring me and my art with this interview. i am sure it will be the first of many interviews that will be worthwhile reads ( and inspiration!)
    to all my faa friends who left comments at the forum. i am no longer allowed to participate nor e mail, so please use this venue or my posted links to contact me. thank you!

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    • Thanks Joan. I’m going to try to link in photos from the exhibit and the artists’ work images – just need to see the final group of works first. So even if you’re not in Boston, i hope to have an online version for you to enjoy in the next week or two.

    • Thanks Joan. I’m going to try to link in photos from the exhibit and the artists’ work images – just need to see the final group of works first. So even if you’re not in Boston, i hope to have an online version for you to enjoy in the next week or two.

  32. It was good to get your input in this. There were quite a few artists on RB alone that were probably good choices, so hopefully more will comment and add their thoughts. I Approved the reblog and hope it shows up publicly the way its supposed to. This is the first time anyone reblogged from mine, so it’s new to me. Thanks!

  33. It was good to get your input in this. There were quite a few artists on RB alone that were probably good choices, so hopefully more will comment and add their thoughts. I Approved the reblog and hope it shows up publicly the way its supposed to. This is the first time anyone reblogged from mine, so it’s new to me. Thanks!

    • Theresa thanks for your sweet comment. I look at the joint math meeting, smack my forhead and think “duh! – if I’d been on top of this a month ago I should have gotten Theresa to apply” You should follow the links and check out Bridges. They do the Joint Math Meeting in January and a conference on math and art in May/June. There is a solid representation of fiber arts, including mathematical quilting. I think you’d get a kick out of it at the very least.

    • Theresa thanks for your sweet comment. I look at the joint math meeting, smack my forhead and think “duh! – if I’d been on top of this a month ago I should have gotten Theresa to apply” You should follow the links and check out Bridges. They do the Joint Math Meeting in January and a conference on math and art in May/June. There is a solid representation of fiber arts, including mathematical quilting. I think you’d get a kick out of it at the very least.

  34. Reblogged this on Abstract Artist Group of New England (and Experimental) and commented:

    I have two ink and marker drawings in San Diego, awaiting the annual mathematical art exhibit during the Joint Mathematics meeting. Archimedes Chiral and D-branes will be on exhibit, and Archimedes Chiral will also be on the cover of the exhibit catalog. The group that organizes the exhibit is called “Bridges” and they are an exemplar of everything I wish exhibit organizers did. They really really get it right.
    The JMM art exhibit is an interesting show. They maintain an electronic version of the exhibit and archives of past years online – you don’t have to be at the meeting to see it.The organizers and jury are very good at striking a seamless balance between artistic expressions by professional mathematicians and mathematical expressions by professional artists. The competitive international call for art helps to maintain the artistic quality at a very high level. The demand for “mathematical sophistication” keeps the exhibit clean and focused on its topic. I believe the integration of artists and mathematicians is helped by a population of practicing mathematicians who are also very serious artists, and by a number of artists and designers with impressive mathematical backgrounds.
    I really enjoy the uninhibited approach to materials and style that the mathematicians take when they approach their art. These are very intelligent people with a strong ability to conceptualize (or they wouldn’t be successful mathematicians). When I look at their work I can see that strong clear conceptualization in play. To get that concept into the world they simply do whatever is necessary. Does a certain visualization require hours of modeling on the supercomputer, and is the data more clearly presented folded into origami? Or is the complex topology best achieved by developing crochet patterns and spending many evening hours around the table with fellow mathematicians and yarn? Ok, done.
    The result is an exhibit full of refreshing quirks and playful surprises. I’ve always enjoyed STEM labs and offices for the personalities they inherit from the group’s working in the spaces. A research group develops a strong collective identity, reflected in all of the little design and decorative choices in their shared spaces. There’s some of the spirit of mathematics and of many mathematicians and research groups on display at the Joint Mathematics Exhibit. And some great art, and serious math.

  35. Wow! so true, about “easy imagery” and popularity! It’s soooooo tempting to create for the parameters of “the popular,” when there’s no money coming in.
    Terrific post!

    • Thanks Rob!
      And from what I’ve seen at festivals, the easy “popular” route doesn’t work very well. Why? Supply and demand is a push and pull. There are two words there. The people racing to try for cute, easy and “popular” restyling are seeing an apparent demand. But they aren’t considering the huge oversupply of “popular” styles, nor that vanilla styles start to see competition from mass produced and generic “popular: decorating ideas.

    • Hi Rob,
      Thanks – the Maryland show is ongoing through Mid March. I was impressed with the museum and grounds and the curation was interesting too. There was one piece where the artist took a crocheted mesh pattern and seeded it with sugar crystals. The crochet was immersed in a tank of tinted sugar water and coral-like patterns of rock candy started to slowly grow over time (they have a few later stage examples on exhibit). Another person did these weighty terracotta sculptures shaped to look like soft pillows. If I had to find a common theme I’d say they chose work that transformed the media used and the viewer’s expectations for that media. Which is appropriate for a show called “Glitz”, since the glitter and glam are also transformative.
      I absolutely love Bathgate’s work – hope I can get to one of his exhibits someday. Reminds me of labs I’ve known and loved, and objects that I was sooooo tempted to touch in those labs (but fingerprints are very bad and the hands stayed in the pockets)

  36. Oh, wow! This is intriguing and beautiful. I love the movement in it and the INCREDIBLE detail. How wonderful that you bring the power of science to art.

    (Love those Pigma pens!!)

  37. Hey! Someone in my Facebook group shared this site with us so I came to take a look. I’m definitely enjoying the information. I’m bookmarking and will be tweeting this to my followers! Exceptional blog and great design and style.

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    • Sure – I’d be happy to help. I’m pretty new to this myself, but I’m happy to share what I’ve figured out so far (and I believe that artists should have these conversations). Here or through my email
      rv at nerdlypainter dot com

      • Which ever you like. Ive noticed that you seem to have a number of gallery shows as well as some onlinr interview, magazines and such. Did you reach out or submit stuff to them or did they contact you. My work is selling well, granted I dont charge much, ppl say I should charge lots more. But this year my goal was to try to have a more global presence which it seems you have.
        Thans for returning my comment.
        Benjamin

        • In terms of a global or international presence, you have to figure out what sort of exhibits are a good fit and apply to them. Just start Googling around and get on some mailing lists so you get a heads up. The Massachusetts cultural council has a blog “Artsake”, which lists opportunities appropriate for Massachusetts artists, including National and international exhibits. Many states have something similar through either the Governor’s office or the state cultural council (or council for the arts). Find yours, and look at some other states as well – there’s nothing stopping you from subscribing to listings from another state if they do a good job and have a lot that are a good fit.

          Most of the advertised competitive exhibits you can apply to will nickel and dime you with fees. However there are subject niches and regional/local venues that can be quite good and that don’t charge application or other fees. I’ve been finding that the Science themed and Math themed art exhibits do a good job of promotion, offer nice awards, and don’t make money off of artists. To find local venues and opportunities network with like-minded artists – maybe a meetup group.

          If you see a spot that looks like a good place to display your work, just put together a sampling of work photos and go ask. It works. If you are thinking of exhibiting in a venue for the first time have a relationship with a venue and want more of a presence, ask politely around a month before they typically issue a prospectus, and explain what you want to show and why you think they’re venue is the right one.

          You can also introduce yourself and ask for interviews (make your case for why). I’ve gotten blogger attention by asking, and also by just building up a relationship where they have an artist on hand who gives straight answers to questions etc.

          Regarding pricing, customer price points form a pyramid. There are a lot of customers looking at the lower price points, but that number dwindles as you climb the pricing pyramid. If you want to raise your prices, you might want to test the waters with a few pieces that are larger or somehow a clear break from your current work. If there’s a clear delineation between the new expensive work and the older less expensive work, you should be able to work and justify both price points while you figure out whether you have enough attention from collectors in the next level of the pyramid.

          Again in terms of pricing, if you look around you’ll find advice that tells you that it’s bad to price too high or too low, with no numbers attached to “too high” or “too low”, so useless. And then most of the advice will go on to tell you you must never lower your prices (guess right the first time or die,artist, die!). This advice is followed by several overgeneralized stupid pricing models that will help you go out of business fast (also offering no numbers for comparison).

          My suggestion is to look at how much money you need to generate per month, look at how much work you generate per month and then develop a pricing model that makes the month’s work at least as valuable as the month’s expenses. I find that this approach also helps me keep to a studio schedule. If I want to lower prices to generate quicker sales I have to produce more work – that’s a good discipline.

          • Thanks for your input, As far as showing locally Ive been doing that for years, but the whole magazine,reviews thing is pretty new to me and thanks tons for the info on local state stuff thats a great idea. Pricing ugh makes me crazy. Its funny because ppl say I should price higher but then nobody buys the expensive stuff. As far as produccing quality work thats not a problem all i do is paint, so I can produce a body of work rather quickly. Any how thanks again I really appercaite you taking the time to communicate with me.

    • Sure – I’d be happy to help. I’m pretty new to this myself, but I’m happy to share what I’ve figured out so far (and I believe that artists should have these conversations). Here or through my email
      rv at nerdlypainter dot com

      • Which ever you like. Ive noticed that you seem to have a number of gallery shows as well as some onlinr interview, magazines and such. Did you reach out or submit stuff to them or did they contact you. My work is selling well, granted I dont charge much, ppl say I should charge lots more. But this year my goal was to try to have a more global presence which it seems you have.
        Thans for returning my comment.
        Benjamin

        • In terms of a global or international presence, you have to figure out what sort of exhibits are a good fit and apply to them. Just start Googling around and get on some mailing lists so you get a heads up. The Massachusetts cultural council has a blog “Artsake”, which lists opportunities appropriate for Massachusetts artists, including National and international exhibits. Many states have something similar through either the Governor’s office or the state cultural council (or council for the arts). Find yours, and look at some other states as well – there’s nothing stopping you from subscribing to listings from another state if they do a good job and have a lot that are a good fit.

          Most of the advertised competitive exhibits you can apply to will nickel and dime you with fees. However there are subject niches and regional/local venues that can be quite good and that don’t charge application or other fees. I’ve been finding that the Science themed and Math themed art exhibits do a good job of promotion, offer nice awards, and don’t make money off of artists. To find local venues and opportunities network with like-minded artists – maybe a meetup group.

          If you see a spot that looks like a good place to display your work, just put together a sampling of work photos and go ask. It works. If you are thinking of exhibiting in a venue for the first time have a relationship with a venue and want more of a presence, ask politely around a month before they typically issue a prospectus, and explain what you want to show and why you think they’re venue is the right one.

          You can also introduce yourself and ask for interviews (make your case for why). I’ve gotten blogger attention by asking, and also by just building up a relationship where they have an artist on hand who gives straight answers to questions etc.

          Regarding pricing, customer price points form a pyramid. There are a lot of customers looking at the lower price points, but that number dwindles as you climb the pricing pyramid. If you want to raise your prices, you might want to test the waters with a few pieces that are larger or somehow a clear break from your current work. If there’s a clear delineation between the new expensive work and the older less expensive work, you should be able to work and justify both price points while you figure out whether you have enough attention from collectors in the next level of the pyramid.

          Again in terms of pricing, if you look around you’ll find advice that tells you that it’s bad to price too high or too low, with no numbers attached to “too high” or “too low”, so useless. And then most of the advice will go on to tell you you must never lower your prices (guess right the first time or die,artist, die!). This advice is followed by several overgeneralized stupid pricing models that will help you go out of business fast (also offering no numbers for comparison).

          My suggestion is to look at how much money you need to generate per month, look at how much work you generate per month and then develop a pricing model that makes the month’s work at least as valuable as the month’s expenses. I find that this approach also helps me keep to a studio schedule. If I want to lower prices to generate quicker sales I have to produce more work – that’s a good discipline.

          • Thanks for your input, As far as showing locally Ive been doing that for years, but the whole magazine,reviews thing is pretty new to me and thanks tons for the info on local state stuff thats a great idea. Pricing ugh makes me crazy. Its funny because ppl say I should price higher but then nobody buys the expensive stuff. As far as produccing quality work thats not a problem all i do is paint, so I can produce a body of work rather quickly. Any how thanks again I really appercaite you taking the time to communicate with me.

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    • Thanks Susan,
      I’ve been experimenting with the different acrylic media – lots of fun options. If you ever want to get together and trade tips, I’m also in Arlington.

    • Thanks Susan,
      I’ve been experimenting with the different acrylic media – lots of fun options. If you ever want to get together and trade tips, I’m also in Arlington.

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  68. Pingback: Reblog from AAGNE – David Betz’s very nice article on the affordable art market | NerdlyPainter

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  72. Such interesting process. Your works sparkle.
    Have a friend whose exhibit has just closed at the Providence Art Club. It was originally commissioned for the Center for Regenerative Medicine. I think you would have liked it.

    • We did a workshop on Archimedean geometric constructions when I was a kid. We each had a pencil and a length of string to work with, and the instructor showed us how to use the string as both a compass and a rule to create a variety of regular two-dimensional geometric shapes. Fascinating and fun (and I still remember it, so it must have stuck)

  73. Popularity does indeed say very little. This holds for other things as well. You can, for example, easily write a blog article that gives you many likes in half an hour and takes 10 minutes to write. Just combine three lines of text, a haiku and a nice photograph and the orange stars will start showing. I once wrote such an article that essentially said I was too tired that day to post anything substantial. Lots of Likes! If, on the other hand, you write a scientific or philosophical article that contains some real substance, you will work on it for hours or days and then it will take a lot of time before anybody takes the time to read it or even like. But on the long term, these articles bring you new followers and interesting discussion. One should strive for quality instead for popularity..

    • I see a lot of people striving to create easy “popular” work online and offline. With art, “popularity” that comes easily is often almost a ruse, tricking the artist onto a path that is neither authentic nor a road to success. People don’t often acquire original art based on a quick response. It’s a major decision for many collectors. So “popular” styles can work against you. There is also an issue of supply, demand, and visual exhaustion. There may be slightly more demand and interest in certain “popular” styles, but there’s also so very much of it out there that the supply oversaturates the demand by several orders of magnitude – the supply of simple works aimed at quick popularity is large enough to exhaust the viewer.

    • This article initially caught my eye because I’ve been fascinated by the way some works percolate through the large art sites, and the way people’s favorites seem related to their favorite artists’ favorite artists. I spoke to a friend about analyzing the data, Simson Garfinkle. He’s a computer Science professor with a quite a bit of insight into data mining and what software is already available to help someone mine the data. I also floated it past the hubs, who has done a lot of algorithm development and is familiar with statistical algorithms (he’s a big fan of “R”). Both computer whizzes seemed to find it odd that I’d want to mine the data on art preference, because the believed that the rather obvious first steps I’d proposed had already been done. They have not – the state of search and recommendation for art online is so appallingly primitive that it took some careful explaining to describe just how “not present and not available” it is.

      So I’ve been trying to learn Orange, and noodling with Knime. Orange is appealing because it plugs into Python, Knime has a layer of tools that dip right into “R”. I don’t know if I’ll be able to single handedly tame the online visual firehose, but Orange is already generating some unexpected correlations when I cluster my own work.

      It’s already known that the social networking functions of the internet can create little “bubbles” of online reality, and this seems to happen very quickly with art networks and art websites.

  74. We did a workshop on Archimedean geometric constructions when I was a kid. We each had a pencil and a length of string to work with, and the instructor showed us how to use the string as both a compass and a rule to create a variety of regular two-dimensional geometric shapes. Fascinating and fun (and I still remember it, so it must have stuck)

  75. The dynamics of the art market seems to be an interesting area of research. I guess it is quite complex. It has outside influences (like the “financial crisis” or the development of the internet (e.g. what changes are caused by online-platforms and direct sales, as oppose to the traditional way through galleries?)). I guess there are also different types of buyers with different motivation (investment/speculation, status/fashion, or buyers who simply like certain things). Investment- or status-buyers would maybe not even buy things based on what they personally like. I would expect a lot of complexity here. As a cultural phenomenon, the art market should also be something that is historically developing and does not have unchangeable laws.
    However, if you do data mining here, where do you get the data?

    • I’m selling prints through a start-up called Turning Art. They use a subscription model. People subscribe to have a certain number of prints in their home at a time, they try them, then decide to swap them for new ones or to keep them and buy them. There are several levels of interest that can be tracked (anonymously). How often a piece is put into a queue, how often it is viewed in search, how often it is brought into a home, etc.
      Right now I have the data on my own pieces as numbers, but no identifying info on the people picking them. Not even an anonymized code. But I can use the data from my own dashboard to quantify levels of commitment. I can also create indexes for various attributes of my own, familiar, work.

      I’ve been using the data that i have to look for selection trends among my own pieces, adding data to the table describing (guesstimating) the complexity, colorfulness, level of abstraction, etc. of the pieces I have online. It’s interesting that some of the correlates I’d expected weren’t strong and there were others that I had not expected. I also have figured out some of the data I need to look for – for example, it’s probably important to normalize for how long something has been online.

      With these graphical modular programs for data mining, the experiments are cheap to do, so it makes sense to get some data and start poking it, then iteratively start to build better experiments and insights.

      • Sounds very interesting! If you could predict what people like, base on what they liked before (at least some correlations) you could create a selling platform (for yourself and for others).

        • Or just a more natural way to navigate all of the visual information on the internet. I don’t see that yet from any of the art sites. Google makes a lot of noise about image searching, but their engine is heavily weighted towards keywords as far as I can tell from experiments in using it.

        • Most of the big Art sites have artist accounts and general accounts where people can “watch” someone or select and create lists of “Favorites”. Some also include sharing options and publicly track how often a piece is shared. This information is all generally hidden behind a tab and isn’t used for much of anything, but it’s also not private. So the data is there. The data is everywhere. Making sense of it in a way that is meaningful … now that’s the challenge.

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    • Hi, Thanks. I think the top painting you’re referring to is the whole very big canvas. The smaller bits in the slide show below the text are just close-up pictures of different parts of it. It’s difficult to take something that’s 5 feet by 4 feet and present it on a computer screen.

    • Thanks. I was doing a number of these “stained glass” style pieces around two years ago. The bright colors in the background are washes, so a lot of light is reflected off the white canvas through the thin color. The black outlines are an impasto medium, which is basically a paste used to build up oil paint into thick 3-D textures. That helps the stained glass effect.

      The first time I exhibited Dance of the Gauge Bosons, the curator made a mistake in the title on the label. “Dance of the gauge bosons” became “dance of the gauge bosoms”. The title still could make sense, but bosons is a better fit for the painting than bosoms. Now I have to figure out how to create a special painting for that curator that fits the title – a bit of a running joke between us.

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    • I don’t make a lot of income from Red Bubble. they managed to attract some superlative artists early on, but the team managing the site seems to have decided that they’ll focus on more commercial graphic art and merchandising phone cases and T-shirts. As a result it has gotten more and more difficult to sell art there. Even in merchandized form if it isn’t line art that could go on a hair band album cover or big eyed girl cartoons and posters for a High School goth kid’s bedroom – it’s very hard to sell.
      I think this goes back to some of the points made in the article I’d cited in an earlier post (Early evidence is often not really evidence).
      The internet tends to create little Bubbles. With art and visual information, the items that will get a quick response are works that (a) translate very well from “work” to jpeg “image” without a lot of content loss (b) works whose jpeg “image” translates into a small thumbnail well. There may be some good, craveable art that manages to fit those two criteria, but I would not use them to define “good art”.

      Your work is very detailed and the charm and interest is in the details and the way they add up within the whole. An internet thumbnail of your “Bearing Strait” for example, might show one or two of the main critters clearly, but probably would not really tell anything about the piece at all. Yet it’s an engaging piece that jpegs well.

      What thumbnails well? Exactly what sites like RedBubble promote most heavily. Simple line art, graphic art, and slick commercial art and photography. But the good thumbnails are trending in just the opposite direction from where offline fine art collection seems to be heading (details, texture, presence, complexity).

    • I don’t make a lot of income from Red Bubble. they managed to attract some superlative artists early on, but the team managing the site seems to have decided that they’ll focus on more commercial graphic art and merchandising phone cases and T-shirts. As a result it has gotten more and more difficult to sell art there. Even in merchandized form if it isn’t line art that could go on a hair band album cover or big eyed girl cartoons and posters for a High School goth kid’s bedroom – it’s very hard to sell.
      I think this goes back to some of the points made in the article I’d cited in an earlier post (Early evidence is often not really evidence).
      The internet tends to create little Bubbles. With art and visual information, the items that will get a quick response are works that (a) translate very well from “work” to jpeg “image” without a lot of content loss (b) works whose jpeg “image” translates into a small thumbnail well. There may be some good, craveable art that manages to fit those two criteria, but I would not use them to define “good art”.

      Your work is very detailed and the charm and interest is in the details and the way they add up within the whole. An internet thumbnail of your “Bearing Strait” for example, might show one or two of the main critters clearly, but probably would not really tell anything about the piece at all. Yet it’s an engaging piece that jpegs well.

      What thumbnails well? Exactly what sites like RedBubble promote most heavily. Simple line art, graphic art, and slick commercial art and photography. But the good thumbnails are trending in just the opposite direction from where offline fine art collection seems to be heading (details, texture, presence, complexity).

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    • Thanks – glad you liked it. My husband sometimes helps with the titles. He’s a theoretical physicist (which also means he cannot be allowed near power tools)

  100. Thanks – glad you liked it. My husband sometimes helps with the titles. He’s a theoretical physicist (which also means he cannot be allowed near power tools)

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  109. Dear N.P.,
    I just love your paintings and am very happy to receive your brilliant-looking emails. Thank you!
    How do you manage to be so unbelievably productive?

    Looking forward to more beauty in my inbox.

  110. Hi Constance, glad you enjoy my work. These new ones are a bit of a project. I received a bunch of panels that are good for painting, but not so much for drilling holes, and I’d wanted to drill some holes.

    So I’ve challenged myself to finish painting all of the no-drill panels by the end of June – all have to be good well-conceived paintings with a reasonable level of detail (no cheating!). It’s a little crazy, but on the plus side I also base my pricing on output. So if I output as many as I’m hoping to paint, the prices should be all in the under $300 range with many of the smaller ones under $150 (or even under $100 – let’s see if i can chug my way to that point). Below that i start to run into costs of materials and diminishing returns.

    As for productivity, it’s a bit of a nerd thing. I learned how to manage workflows when I was doing double degrees in Music and Materials Science (and double theses) at MIT, while also lending logistical support to some of the CAVS scholars and trying to organize student art events. I’ve rarely been left with a lot of truly free time, so i guess I’m used to just chugging along.

    Long winded answer – sorry about that.

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  120. Thanks for articulating and sharing your wisdom. I read Danny’s base article about small business too. I have just turned in my resignation letter to my employer AND symbolically to my career as an engineer in order to set the life priorities right: passion(art) first & money to support from the other way around. Tons of anxiety with tons of excitement. Seeing someone else’s tactics working, the level of anxiety seems to chease.

    • I saw the handwriting on the wall for my science career after years of trying to persuade NSF and NASA to fund research that was sort of about protein folding and self-assembly, but really I knew how to design molecules that would make cool spirals in the polarizing microscope, and cool textures in the TEM (sort of going for a nano Kiefer). This is a better fit, and it sounds like a better fit for you as well.

      However, bankruptcy doesn’t help the creative process, it makes people drop out. The whole starving artist thing is a Romantic era myth. Don’t buy into it. Do have a plan. I hope you have a plan to go forward that includes financial management. As an engineer you’re probably comfortable with project management, so spreadsheet your investment and pricing models and look at how and when you can get to break even, GaNTT chart out your goals and progress milestones (it’s nerdy, but I won’t tell).

      I will say that so far, getting to a stable place financially through art is a bit harder than some things, but not unimaginably so. All businesses are hard to start. Very few people are blessed with fast luck, fame, and followers. The same would be true if you were opening a card shop or a bakery, starting aboutique law firm or … fill in the business start blank.

      The special challenges in art revolve around the “niche-ness” of what you’re trying to offer the world. There are none of the commoditization disadvantages of mass=produced uniform goods, but you also don’t get economies of scale. And you have to produce the work that you sell. And you need to have a critical mass of that work – a body of work arranged in coherent series – in order to access most channels for publicizing and distributing your work. There’s a need to start with a body of work and meet production milestones before you can reasonably approach a gallery, or try to make an agreement with a publisher or other useful activities. This means that for several months or even years you may not have enough art for your art to speak in the world. That’s a big hurdle. You need a plan.

      • How do you know that I’m doing protein folding and designing? It must be Julia (your former MIT dorm mate). Anyway, no I don’t have a body of work yet. My plan is to build a solid foundation, experiment and make a lot of mistakes, find my true voice, build a body of work (a dozen to 20 paintings that I can depart) and put marketing stuff in place by the end of 2014. I am counting on the liquidation of my second home going favorably this summer. Your and Danny’s articles corrected my initial impulse to start “plumbing” before planning and building the foundation.

        • I didn’t know you were working on protein folding. interesting. I spent a few years working of foldamers that would form rigid secondary and supersecondary structures then pack into complex patterned chiral materials as they were dried down. This was post PhD and Post MIT. Julia lived downstairs from me at MIT. Is “pickled cucumber” a reference to the electrified glowing pickle experiment at steer roast roughly 17 years ago, Runkle upstairs kitchen, roughly 2-3 AM? Which has now become a standard lab demonstration in several Universities? No drunk alumni were killed in the study.

  121. Thanks for articulating and sharing your wisdom. I read Danny’s base article about small business too. I have just turned in my resignation letter to my employer AND symbolically to my career as an engineer in order to set the life priorities right: passion(art) first & money to support from the other way around. Tons of anxiety with tons of excitement. Seeing someone else’s tactics working, the level of anxiety seems to chease.

    • I saw the handwriting on the wall for my science career after years of trying to persuade NSF and NASA to fund research that was sort of about protein folding and self-assembly, but really I knew how to design molecules that would make cool spirals in the polarizing microscope, and cool textures in the TEM (sort of going for a nano Kiefer). This is a better fit, and it sounds like a better fit for you as well.

      However, bankruptcy doesn’t help the creative process, it makes people drop out. The whole starving artist thing is a Romantic era myth. Don’t buy into it. Do have a plan. I hope you have a plan to go forward that includes financial management. As an engineer you’re probably comfortable with project management, so spreadsheet your investment and pricing models and look at how and when you can get to break even, GaNTT chart out your goals and progress milestones (it’s nerdy, but I won’t tell).

      I will say that so far, getting to a stable place financially through art is a bit harder than some things, but not unimaginably so. All businesses are hard to start. Very few people are blessed with fast luck, fame, and followers. The same would be true if you were opening a card shop or a bakery, starting aboutique law firm or … fill in the business start blank.

      The special challenges in art revolve around the “niche-ness” of what you’re trying to offer the world. There are none of the commoditization disadvantages of mass=produced uniform goods, but you also don’t get economies of scale. And you have to produce the work that you sell. And you need to have a critical mass of that work – a body of work arranged in coherent series – in order to access most channels for publicizing and distributing your work. There’s a need to start with a body of work and meet production milestones before you can reasonably approach a gallery, or try to make an agreement with a publisher or other useful activities. This means that for several months or even years you may not have enough art for your art to speak in the world. That’s a big hurdle. You need a plan.

      • How do you know that I’m doing protein folding and designing? It must be Julia (your former MIT dorm mate). Anyway, no I don’t have a body of work yet. My plan is to build a solid foundation, experiment and make a lot of mistakes, find my true voice, build a body of work (a dozen to 20 paintings that I can depart) and put marketing stuff in place by the end of 2014. I am counting on the liquidation of my second home going favorably this summer. Your and Danny’s articles corrected my initial impulse to start “plumbing” before planning and building the foundation.

        • I didn’t know you were working on protein folding. interesting. I spent a few years working of foldamers that would form rigid secondary and supersecondary structures then pack into complex patterned chiral materials as they were dried down. This was post PhD and Post MIT. Julia lived downstairs from me at MIT. Is “pickled cucumber” a reference to the electrified glowing pickle experiment at steer roast roughly 17 years ago, Runkle upstairs kitchen, roughly 2-3 AM? Which has now become a standard lab demonstration in several Universities? No drunk alumni were killed in the study.

  122. That’s really interesting. You mentioned Protein folding out of nowhere and hit a right person! I was (oooh, past tense) part of Baker lab on UW, worked on their flagship simulation & modeling software called Rosetta. You might know it through FoldIt (protein folding online game) which is an application. I think these day’s lab practice involves bagels and latte more than cucumbers. How did you come to the moment of zen? Quitting decades of research field and associate professor position should have been a huge huge deal. my email is, by the way, from gmail (pickled… at gmail).

    • U W as in Wisconsin? I left a soft money research professorship to found a bionanotech, which failed after a few years and a round of VC for a variety of reasons (looking for Round 2 just as the economy crashed sure didn’t help). I didn’t really want to go back so I tried consulting with room for art on the side, but the art started taking over. Now I have to hit break even on the art, but it’s still easier to market than bionanotech

  123. That’s really interesting. You mentioned Protein folding out of nowhere and hit a right person! I was (oooh, past tense) part of Baker lab on UW, worked on their flagship simulation & modeling software called Rosetta. You might know it through FoldIt (protein folding online game) which is an application. I think these day’s lab practice involves bagels and latte more than cucumbers. How did you come to the moment of zen? Quitting decades of research field and associate professor position should have been a huge huge deal. my email is, by the way, from gmail (pickled… at gmail).

    • U W as in Wisconsin? I left a soft money research professorship to found a bionanotech, which failed after a few years and a round of VC for a variety of reasons (looking for Round 2 just as the economy crashed sure didn’t help). I didn’t really want to go back so I tried consulting with room for art on the side, but the art started taking over. Now I have to hit break even on the art, but it’s still easier to market than bionanotech

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  148. My first association was a painting by Franz Mark that has systems of lines in different directions (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Franz_Marc-The_fate_of_the_animals-1913.jpg). Maybe not exactly similar, but that is what came up in my mind because your painting looks a bit like it is in the cubism-direction. Some paintings by Lyonel Feininger also have a similar feel.
    In the scientific direction, it reminds me of observing growing crystals under the microscope and watching them undergoing phase transitions (including some with twinning, see http://asifoscope.org/2013/04/23/organic-martensite/).

    • I’ll have to check out Franz Mark online. It’s amazing how easy it is to find work by favorite artists now – and how impossible it was to find some of these pieces back when I was using bound books and museum exhibits.
      I have to ask, was the work you reference by Feininger based on crystal growth? Some years ago I found an artist in a book in the MIT art and Architecture library who was creating paintings based on crystal growth. At the time my favorite professor was teaching a course on dislocation theory and crystalline grain boundaries, and was also very interested in art. I tried to show him the paintings but couldn’t find them again. Could it be?

      I did mostly electron microscopy but I did manage to observe a veeery slooowwww liquid crystalline pahse transition from smectic C* to chiral hexatic in the polarizing optical microscope once. Cool stuff. I’ve always wanted to experience the sonic boom from a martensitic transformation. Did you ever capture one?

      • But you just reminded me that I have a crystal growth manuscript to review. I could explain that I’ve been an artist for 3 years and see how desperate the editor is for reviewers.

  149. I don’t think Feininger was influenced by crystal growth. He belonged to the Cubism movement. They just tried to do abstraction into a geometric direction. If you enter his name in Google Images, you will find a lot of examples. So these similarities are accidental. That is also too long ago. I would expect that the artist you are talking about might have been active in the 1950s or probably later.
    I remember seeing a film on youtube of microscopic images of martensitic transformations in steel. There you see these stripes suddenly appearing. In the model system my father discovered, you can easily watch it (and that can be done at home since the temperatures are moderate). You see the crystals changing color suddenly and then these stripes suddenly occur, in groups, not all at once. I guess that each time twinning happens, it causes stress somewhere else, so it is kind of a cascading process, but it all just takes a few seconds. In the stripes resulting from the twinning, stripes in another direction might then appear (what, as far as I remember, is called “generations”), resulting in some kind of fractal structure. Very nice to watch. Under polarized light, you get beautiful colors.
    One can watch different kinds of phase transitions, depending on what you are looking at. I remember cases where a phase change moves through the field of view from one side to the other, completely changing the structure (normally resulting in a more fine grained structure). In this case, however, it is just instantaneous in the whole crystal.
    I have the parts of a heating table but I don’t know if it will still work. I don’t have the time at the moments to try. My father used to use this in a material science class. He contacted the company Leybold Heraeus, who produced science teaching materials.(If you look for that name, and “Heiztisch”, something still pops up on the internet. They built the heating tables, as far as I know. Contact them, maybe they still sell them (I see there “Heiztisch, projizierbar”, that means heating table, projectable”. Maybe it is still possible to buy one. You will love it). So every student (or maybe groups of two) could do these experiments in class. My father was in contact with people from the University of Clausthal here in Germany. I guess there should be a couple of these devices around. If they are no longer available, it should be possible to build one if you can put a metal layer on some heat resistant glass and put that on a frame. The people in science departments who build experimental equipment should be able to do that. I think it is a gold layer (must resist the chemicals) but I am not sure. A sputter like you use to put gold on probes for a scanning electron microscope is probably too small, you need something to deposit metal vapor on the glass.
    I inherited some slides that I am planning to have digitized next week. I want to post some of the stuff. Unfortunately, my father never filmed this (that was before electronic cameras became wide spread). He once made a publication about this, as far as I know, I have to look for it.

    • It sounds like something that moght be interesting to pass on to my friend. She teaches undergraduaqte and beginning graduate condensed matter physics.

      The martensitic transformation in metals proceeds across a sample and probably does propagate due to extremely localized elastic stresses. The behavior of your father’s organic sample sounds a lot more interesting in terms of stress propagation.

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    • I thought I sensed a bit of nerdity. You should be able to find a Latex syntax guide somewhere online. The main difference between latex and plain old Tex is the GUI for word processing – the equation editors look similar. And i’m pretty sure it’s all open source, so lots of free documentation etc should be floating around the aether.

    • I thought I sensed a bit of nerdity. You should be able to find a Latex syntax guide somewhere online. The main difference between latex and plain old Tex is the GUI for word processing – the equation editors look similar. And i’m pretty sure it’s all open source, so lots of free documentation etc should be floating around the aether.

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  170. Regina you are so productive, create such fluid and meaningful work and get yourself out there all the time. Kudos to you. Sense the motion in your musically themed pieces.

  171. Regina you are so productive, create such fluid and meaningful work and get yourself out there all the time. Kudos to you. Sense the motion in your musically themed pieces.

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  211. From the facebook discussion
    ########: I’d definitely like to know what kind of gloves to wear… Ugh.
    ———————
    Regina Valluzzi For acrylic or oil go with nitrile rubber. Should be less allergenic because it lacks the plant proteins and factors found in natural latex. And it’s not as porous. The solvents in artists paints are not that difficult to handle – it’s when artists start getting creative and going “outside the os” with silicones in solvent or polyurethane + solvent formulations, automobile paint formulas, etc. that things can get hinky.
    ——————–
    Regina Valluzzi http://www.grainger.com/…/CONDOR-Nitrile…/_/N-ml5…
    WP133368 Nitrile Chemical Resistant Gloves – Grainger Industrial Supply
    Shop CONDOR Nitrile Chemical Resistant Gloves…
    grainger.com
    ———————-
    Regina Valluzzi: You also have to be careful about “resistance” to chemicals – most gloves can “resist” and protect against some things for a long time, but other chemicals can penetrate the glove in hours or minutes. It’s a good idea to change them if you are working with strong acids or strong solvents – again not really a problem with artists’ paint formulations. But i’ve seen artists use chemicals that I’d be wary of in a fully outfitted lab. And they’re using a dust mask and barrier cream… not good