Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Bird Conversations

Bird Conversations, CM, 2013

My oldest son is a painter, and as with any young artiste, he experiments wildly with style.  Some I like, and with some I choose my words carefully.  This one I like.  The form, the color, the eye, and especially the cut-out bird placed in the lower right hand corner.  That bird has attitude, possibly even rage.  Who doesn't love an angry bird?

Monday, January 26, 2015

Wild Sunflower on a Winter's Day

Helianthus divaricatus, Laurel Highlands, 2012

" Sunflower heads form an intriguing geometric pattern that is characterized by spirals that extend from the center outward in both clockwise and counter-clockwise directions.  The spirals are formed in the achenes as they develop, their position relative to proceding achenes optimized to maximize exposure to the sun.  The angle that they form is related to the Golden Ration, Phi, a number that is approximately 1.618034.  The Golden Ration has the unique property that Phi-1=1/Phi.  The Golden Ration is related to the Fibronacci numbers (1,2,3,5,8,13,21...).  As one extends this ration to infinity, the ratio of any number to the one that precedes it approaches Phi (thus 21/13=1.62).  Because of Phi, the number of spirals in either direction on a sunflower head will always be one of the Fibronacci numbers, such as 8, 13, or 21."
- Hiker's Notebook, Wild Sunflowers

While considering Van Gogh's representation of turbulence in 'Starry Night', I wondered about the science and math in the form of wild sunflowers, or even domesticated sunflowers since they follow the same pattern.  Van Gogh wrote to his brother Theo, "The sunflower is mine," and though he created a series of sunflower paintings, I can't see that the Golden Ratio or the Fibonacci Sequence influenced his work, at least in an overt way.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Man And Deer, Unknown Date/Place

Man And Deer, Unknown Date/Place

Sometimes old and errant photographs make their way into my hands.  This is an example of that phenomenon.  I don't know who the man captured here is/was.  I assume that he shot the deer, and he's smiling because now his starving family can finally eat...It's always so tempting to spin a tale from a photograph that you know nothing about except what's presented in it.
The winter was relentless, the wind howling from the northwest with a vengeance, cutting through the warmest of coats like a glass shard...

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Not All That

For years I've heard from a few people that The Wire is the best show that's ever been on television.  Ever.  EVER!  That's saying a lot, so you would think that I would rush out and watch the show, but it's been off the air for seven years and I am only just now getting around to it.  While I do watch police procedurals, it's not my preferred genre.  Still, we decided it was time to see what the fuss was about, so we checked the first season DVDs out at our local library.
Immediately upon viewing the first few minutes of the premier episode it became excruciatingly obvious that Dominic West, a British actor cast to play a Baltimore detective, could not do an American accent.  His approximation of an American accent sounds an awful lot like an Irish accent.  It's extremely distracting and detracts from the viewing experience as a whole.  Another problem that I have is that out of a cast of seemingly thousands there are what, two women?  Two women.  Boo Hiss!  The show itself is ok, not this towering colossus of small screen utter genius and staggering brilliance that I'd been led to believe.  
I'll finish out the first season, I'm half way through it right now, and then decide if I'll check out the next season at the library.  It's no Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, hell, it isn't even The X-Files - including the bad years.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Veronica persica

Common Field Speedwell, Veronica persica, Pittsburgh, 2014

A tiny bit of spring and summer pressed and preserved on tea dyed paper, errant ink blot in lower left corner.  Speedwell is a salad green/herb so small it's often overlooked.  The fresh young leaves have a flavor similar to watercress, and a tea from the dried leaves and flower heads can be used for respiratory ailments.  I don't collect speedwell for medicinal purposes because it is exceptionally small and too time consuming, but I have foraged the leaves when picking greens for a salad and they are quite good, very mild.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Affordable Floors

I am currently pulling up all of the wall-to-wall carpets in the house.  Shown here is the dining room, which has already been completed, as have the stairs, upstairs landing/hallway, both spare bedrooms, and a quarter of the living room.  Only the master bedroom and three quarters of the living room remain.  This has proven to be exhausting.  I'm sore all over.  First, moving all of that furniture, then cutting up the carpets in sections, rolling it up, tying it off, piling it up in the basement until trash day, then crawling around on the floor wrenching free countless tack strips, brads, and staples.  Please do not make the erroneous assumption that I am some DIY devotee.  No, what I really am is cheap, or more kindly, frugal.  So, so many home improvement projects I've undertaken myself solely because I didn't want to part with the cash it would require to get someone else in here to do it.  The biggest upshot with getting rid of these carpets is that the hardwood floors underneath are in excellent condition, and progress can be seen immediately.  That's what keeps me going.  That, and the thought of a Duquesne beer at the end of a long day.
The dog and the cat, as pictured here, are no help and often get in the way.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Visual Clutter

Pug On Rug In A Frame, Backed By Wallpaper, Pittsburgh, 2015

There are quite a few people on both sides of the family who paint.  This masterpiece was rendered by my mother-in-law several years ago of a dog who is now dead.  Bea feels less dead in this portrait than I'm sure she appears at the back of the garden in her grave.  But this isn't about that.  No.  This is about visual clutter, which this is a prime example of.  What do we have here?  A wall, covered in hideous wallpaper, a framed and mercifully matted (blessed negative space!) painting of a dog lying on a bright and busily patterned rug.  Just looking at this makes me want to have a seizure.  There is Too Much Going On!  The eye barely knows what to look at, and even then the brain doesn't know what to think.  This sort of artwork/wallpaper pairing should be avoided at all costs.  And since I am railing against a wall that is in my own home, I've begun to remove the wallpaper.  I wish I could put the dog portrait in the attic, but I am forbidden from doing that, at least as long as my mother-in-law is alive.