Newsletter Feature of the Month: Optical Illusions

AlbersA1I copied and pasted this segment from the November newsletter I sent out yesterday.  Lots of fun links!  You can sign up for the newsletter on the right. Here’s a link to the November newsletter: Newsletter #2. … more→

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Color Scales for Artists – November 21st at OSA

color mixing scales - Maggie Maggio

With the help of generous support from Muse Art and Design, our local independently owned art supply store, I’ve spent the last year exploring color in traditional media – acrylic, oil, watercolor and gouache paint,  ink, colored pencil and pastel.

As a result, I am now offering a workshop on making color scales in all media. The first of these fun classes - Color Scales for Artists – will be Friday, November 21st with the Oregon Society of Artists.  This workshop is a companion class to Rene Eisenbart’s “Color  Mixing Demystified” workshop at OSA on November 14th.  … more→

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Treasure in North Carolina

Munsell-Tree-at-VIA-4webI just got back to Portland after teaching three workshops in North Carolina and now have a Munsell Color Tree in the teaching studio at VIA Artistica!

The east coast of NC is famous as the haunt of Blackbeard the pirate. The history is fascinating. Many believe his buried treasure is still out there somewhere along the Outer Banks.

I had no idea starting out on my last teaching trip of the year that I would find so many treasures of my own.

Here’s the story.  … more→

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Highlights from Racine

RacineCarthageI am still recovering from last weekend in Racine. I was so intent on seeing and doing everything that I did not get many good photos. Bummer!

I can’t possibly do justice to the whole weekend so I will just share my personal highlights.  … more→

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Racine Art Museum Symposium

I leave on Thursday for Racine Art Museum’s second Polymer Symposium at the Johnson Foundation at Wingspread in Racine, Wisconsin.

Racine Art Museum Newsletter OctIt’s an honor to have a number of pieces in both the RAM (in)Organic show and the A Revisioning: New Works in Polymer show at the H.F. Johnson Gallery at Carthage College. I’m looking forward to seeing the RAM show at a preview reception on Friday night and heading to Carthage on Saturday afternoon to see the show at the gallery.

It was especially fun to see “Temptation” featured in the Racine Art Museum newsletter that went out last week.

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MaggioRAMGrowIIIcropped4webHere’s another new piece from RAM’s (in)Organic show.

“Grow III” represents the interweaving of the animal and plant world by blurring the lines between snake and vine. 

I will need a larger oven as the pieces grow and grow!

 

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Serpentine Gothic

Last week I mailed off four pieces for the upcoming “(in) Organic” show at the Racine Art Museum. Here’s one of the pieces along with a short story describing how it came to be.

I was planning on making a loop on loop collar. I had it all sketched out at full scale. I made an 8′ long pinched snake and laid it out alongside the sketch. As I bent the snake into the tight curves that I needed for the loops I started to think that they reminded me of Gothic stone tracery. So I took it in that direction instead.

20130406_Ely_Cathedral_01Serpentine Gothic

I have to admit that I’m thrilled by this accidental discovery. It combines my fascination with serpentine forms and my architectural background in a way that I never could have come up with in my head or even my sketchbooks.  It wasn’t until I saw it coming together before me on the table that the ah-ha moment came.

I played with a number of variations along the way. Little by little the colors shifted to almost neutral, the curves became more regular and the clasp less complicated.

MaggioRAMGothic2I didn’t like the first four drafts. The final piece ended up a golden stone color and close to symmetrical.

Isn’t it amazing how the best ideas arrive from unexpected directions and bonk you on the head! I can’t wait to start exploring the idea of stone tracery more when I get back to the studio in November.

(in)Organic Gallery Guide
Wikipedia on Gothic Tracery
Photo Credit

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40 Years of Color Mixing


1974-Color-MixingForty years ago today, I finished my first color mixing collection.

Home for three weeks between the end of my summer job and the beginning of my sophomore year of college, I decided to mix 300 colors using only three colors of RIT dye. Why dyes? Because my favorite art form at the time was making batiks.

I started with a twin sized white cotton bed sheet donated by my mom that I cut into twelve pieces. (Thanks Mom!) Each piece was dipped into one of the primary dye baths for a specific length of time then dried on a clothesline in the backyard.  I cut each of those 12 pieces into smaller pieces which were dyed and dried a second time.  Those pieces were then cut up and dyed a third time.  By the time I was done, I had three hundred 1″ x 2″ swatches.

The primaries were scarlet red, golden yellow and cobalt blue in four depths of shade (values) based on time in the dye bath.  From those I mixed 96 secondary colors. From those I mixed 192 tertiary colors. I kept track of the dye path for each piece on 3 x 5 index cards and carefully numbered them all before arranging them in one of those old spiral bound photo albums with sticky pages.

Looking back, I realize that my fascination with three primary mixing and mud colors started that fall. I ended up with dozens of little pieces that were the same color even though they were dyed in completely different orders.  It turned out that there were many paths to one color. It was a huge color mixing “ah-ha” moment.

I came across the album while moving my color books into the VIA Artistica teaching studio that I share with three partners here in Portland.  After 40 years the pages are yellowing, the labels falling off, and the colors have faded slightly  – but the lessons learned are as vivid as ever.

1974-Color-Mixing-Primaries11974-Color-Mixing-Secondaries1974-Color-Mixing-Tertiaries

1974-Color-Mixing-Records

Tertiary Colors showing the order of the dye baths. The numbers in parentheses are the secondary colors in the color path.

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The Winner’s Are . . . Ice-Cream Cones!

The winners of this year’s Alan Alda Flame Challenge “What is Color?” are Melanie Golub in the written category and Dianna Cowen, in the visual category. Both mention ice-cream cones when describing the cones of the eyes – a brilliant way to reach the 5th grade audience.  I’m now on the look-out for red, green and blue ice-cream cones.

Its the 4th of July holiday here in the US of A – the perfect weekend to go ice-cream cone hunting. I wonder what flavors will make the best photo op? Strawberry, mint and blueberry? No – too pastel. Might need to go with Italian water ice to get the best colors. Its a good thing I’m visiting the heart of water ice country – Philadelphia, PA.

Petrucci1_3657 Petrucci2_3654 A trip to the Petrucci farm in King of Prussia was good for visiting the goats but came up short in the green cone department. I had to settle for mint chocolate chip ice-cream. Darn. The hunt continues.

In the meantime, you can read Golub’s entry on the winner’s page at the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook U and watch this fun winning video by Cowen, aka The Physics Girl.

Links:
Past Post: Flame Challenge
Flame Challenge Winner’s: winners’ page

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Chromolocomotion: Train Stations and Tetris

chromolocomotion3-4web


My husband and I had one day to spend in London on our way home to Portland this week. We visited the Viking exhibit at the British Museum, took a selfie across the street from 221B Baker Street (no – we did not go in since there was no 221B in Conan Doyle’s time) and then, since Chuck is both an engineer and a train enthusiast, we went to see the west concourse at King’s Cross Station.  I’ve seen photos with other colors but it was blue for us on Wednesday. Brilliant on a rainy day!

King's-Cross4web

I assumed that, like the courtyard roof at the British Museum, the concourse roof was designed by Norman Foster. But I was wrong –  the architect is John McAslan.  No matter. I loved it.

We headed next door to have tea at the Saint Pancras Station. The first thing we noticed as we walked though the center doors was a large, colorful panel hanging where Olympic rings greeted the athletes two years ago.  “Wow!” said Chuck, “It looks like a huge game of Tetris!” And it did!

Chromolocomotion2-4web

I have to admit that at first I didn’t like it. I thought the colors were all wrong, the angular design out-of-place, the construction too flimsy. Then I found the “Look Up” board describing the piece as the second installation in the Terrace Wires public art series. The title? Chromolocomotion. The artist? David Batchelor.

Chromolocomotion-1-4web

Now, you have to understand. I am a huge fan of Batchelor’s books. Chromophobia is a must read and I just bought his latest book, The Luminous and the Gray, when I was at the Tate’s Matisse show a few weeks ago. I read it on the way to Malta. Inspiring!

So I was faced with a bit of a dilemma. I consider Batchelor a fellow color geek. My first impression of the St. Pancras panel – not knowing the artist – was dislike. My second impression – knowing the artist – was a bit more forgiving, a combination of “Everyone has different color tastes.” and “I wonder what was he thinking?” and curiosity about the design competition parameters.

While waiting for the sun to come out, we sat down for tea and day dreamed about taking the Eurostar to Paris. Every now and then the clouds parted and bits of color sparkled over the concourse. Lovely!

Over the course of the day, I’d seen centuries old art pieces at the Viking exhibit, visited an engineering masterpiece from a few years ago, and marveled at a new work of public art.

With all the controversy over original work these days, what struck me most was the variety of my responses.  In the Viking exhibit I noted the stylistic similarities between Celtic, Viking, and Moorish motifs. I loved them all and didn’t care who created the first interlace design.

My different response to the design of the King’s Cross concourse  (I like it even though it reminds me of Norman Foster) and to Chromolocomotion (I don’t love it but I do appreciate it as an original work of public art by an artist I admire) made me realize that it doesn’t matter who the artist is or whether or not the design is “original.” I respond on a visceral level. I know what I like.

As I was sitting down to write this post this afternoon, I discovered that today is the 30th anniversary of Tetris.  Batchelor insists that he was not inspired by the game. What a fun coincidence that an artwork that reminds so many people of a retro video game is hanging in a London train station on the anniversary of its creation.

tetris-game

Links:
BBC Video: Chromolocomotion
Camden New Journal: Shower of Colour

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Lightboxing in Lanjaron

LanjaronCourtyardTwo weeks ago I was in Lanjaron, Spain with my friend, and fellow color enthusiast, Laura Liska. We stayed in a quiet courtyard and spent some time every day on our respective studies.

We are both exploring how light affects the perception of color – each in our own ways.

Laura is working on her thesis observing how light affects the way we perceive the natural world on three levels – the landscape, the tree, the leaves. I am looking at the integration of light, pigment, and optical mixing and how light changes the perceived color of everything under the sun.

Lanjaron is a small town perched on the southwest edge of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Its known for water. Bottled water from the mountains is sold all over Spain, people come here to be pampered at the famous spa, and throughout the town, water flows in constant streams from 23 public fountains. One day, on a fun expedition to photograph all the fountains, I stumbled upon the Water Museum at the end of town.

LanjaronWaterMuseumSite4webThe architect in me recognized it immediately as a special design. Although it was closed, I was able to peek in the glass doors of the two very white, very modern, buildings. Fascinating. I made a note to come back when they were open in three days. Then I decided to investigate what looked like a huge dark box made out of shipping pallets looming between the bright buildings.

What a find!
Industrially drab on the outside, it was a cathedral of light on the inside.

LanjaronWaterMuseum4web

LanjaronWaterMuseumLaura4web

 

I brought Laura to see it the next day. The following day we brought pillows, set up shop on the inside, and worked side by side for hours while watching the slowly shifting patterns.

We found out later that the spot where we were sitting was supposed to be a reflective pool flooded in water. Designed by architect Jaun Domingo Santos, the whole site was intended as an ode to water.

LanjaronWaterMuseumFlooded LanjaronWaterMuseumflooded2 LanjaronWaterMuseumflooded3

We never made it into the museum itself – the hours were limited – but we did ask a few people what happened to the water. They all said that it is never flooded. But even though there is no water there is still the poetry of light.

Links
ArchDaily Article / Water Museum / Juan Domingo Santos
Yatzer Article
Architectural Review

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