blessed are the painters of the sublime light

Deborah Barlow: O R B I L I N I A



Deborah Barlow - Peridawna

Deborah Barlow, Peridawna, detail

Orbilinia is a series of abstract paintings that explores the nature of otherworldliness. Rarefied, meditative and serene, they hang together to round out a suggestive sense of celestial sanctuary and sacred retreat. Complex and meticulously layered, their atmospheric materiality shows no trace of brushes or traditional painting tools. Their surfaces grow by slow accretion similar to the way nature marks the land, with each layer exposing as well as veiling its elements.
– Orbilinia website


March 11 through March 16, 2013. An opening and artist reception will be held on Tuesday, March 12, from 5-8PM.
The public is invited to attend.

Woodbury Museum
575 E. University Parkway N250
Orem UT 84097

Deborah Barlow
Slow Muse


JMW Turner - Sun Setting over a Lake

J M W Turner, Sun Setting over a Lake (c 18400)

Turner was supreme …  in his response to real places. In the notebooks and in the many watercolours of sites in Britain, Switzerland or Italy, he is able to see and to reveal to us something that all too often remains invisible before our very eyes: the wholeness and life of nature manifested in the light that dissolves all particular things into unity.
– Christoper Allen in The Weekend Australian

TURNER FROM THE TATE: The Making of a Master

To May 19
Art Gallery of South Australia
North Terrace  Adelaide SA 5000
(08) 8207 7000

eaves-dropping on nature

Beginner’s Mind: some personal observations on the art of observing, from naturalist Thomas Eisner.

"eaves-dropping" on nature - Thomas Eisner


How is it, I am often asked, that I make discoveries? I always feel a bit awkward about answering the question, because I do not have a particular method. The truth is that I spend a fair amount of time looking around. I already knew as a boy that if I wanted to see things happen – if I wanted to win the revelatory lottery of nature – I had to buy a lot of tickets. So it was in my youth that I formed the habit of taking exploratory walks, whenever possible and as often as possible, for the sole purpose of “eaves-dropping” on nature. Naturalists thrive on such walks, driven by curiosity and the hope of witnessing chance events. Taken at face value, such events may not amount to much. But they may “connect” to what you already know, to previous observations stored away in your memory, and thus take on added meaning. There has to be a constant readiness to make such connections. Every tidbit of new information, no matter how trivial, has the potential of amounting to more than a speck of colour. Properly assigned to the pointillist canvas that constitutes your inner view of the natural world, the new speck adds dimension to the vision.

… I have been extremely lucky in having nature reveal itself on occasion through chance events in my presence. I can remember as if it were yesterday witnessing for the first time Utetheisa being cut from a spider web, or Chrysopa dressing itself as an aphid, or Ammophila carrying a “flower,” and I yearn for future occasions when I may again be granted unexpected glimpses into the workings of nature. One of the great joys of returning to your natural haunts time and again, is that you have the opportunity of grasping the broader image. Observations tend then to become cumulative, to be evocative and revelatory in ways that are not possible until you begin to feel at home in the area. For the naturalist, in fact, feeling at home means having achieved a biological appreciation of a region.

– Thomas Eisner
For the Love of Insects

color is a true magician

The ‘blue’ and the ‘green’ hues in the believe it or not image were one color posing to perception as two – because their neighboring hues affected the way the brain ‘read’ their wavelengths of energy.  The way the eye/brain actually reads things as they juxtapose and relate to their contextual influences as well as the projections from our memory is endlessly fascinating.  It isn’t difficult to imagine how significant this effect is for artisans who work with color in any way.

Color is a true magician.  In this image we are tricked into believing its tonal qualities appear to be different.  It’s called ‘the spreading effect.’



image source – Art and Illusion by E H Gombrich

One tone of red and one of blue are the only colors used.  No one has been able to explain why, when those hues are juxtaposed with black or white they appear to be different tones.  It seems that “we see the whole pattern as one and attribute its total brightness or darkness to its elements.” (*)  We don’t see the ‘ground’ as an isolated spread of color, and we can only accept that the colors are really unbroken stripes of a single tone by tracing a path along the strip.

(*) Gombrich, E. H. (1988) Art and Illusion(Oxford: Phaidon)

This example of just how stitched-together our version of reality is comes from my e-book

believing is seeing … the amazing artifice of perception

It’s one of nine free e-books in the series: empty canvas: wondering mind

See the e-books page for more information

Artifice is the clever use of tricks and devices. – Collins Dictionary

believe it or not …




… the blue and the green are one and the same color!

Try an experiment like this for yourself.
Take one color and experiment with laying others adjacent
in such a way that your one color appears to be two.

What does this amazing optical illusion tell us about
the color-composed ‘world’ we inhabit?

source –

anatomy of an avatar

As far as I can gather, in the context of blogsville, an avatar is a symbol for a site and its scribbler. Symbols speak. They are stand-ins for words. (Words are symbols too, but that’s another story.)

I wanted my avatar to be more than a decorative motif. It had to say something about what my site and my work is concerned with – and hence its scribbler.

I’ve always been interested in the phenomenon of perception and its relationship to the creative life. Our response to anything depends on how we ‘see it,’ and this includes one’s creativity as well as one’s daily life. Habitually we see what we look for – which implies that we knew beforehand what we’d find. In other words, we are looking from our conditioning, out of the past, the known. But there’s another way of seeing: a kind of direct or global seeing. We stumble upon it when – for whatever reason – we are looking with innocence, without agenda, without labeling. I wanted to find an image that would portray these two very different modes of perceiving.

This one met my requirements. It demonstrates the way one’s perception can shift at lightning speed to view two (in this case) possible readings of an image (situation) – neither of which is the right or wrong one. Perception cannot show both images simultaneously. But once they have both been perceived they cannot be denied. The brain changes. Wonderment flows in. This is very good for the creative life.

I also like the way there’s only ONE motif, yet hidden within it are two possible alternative images. One of them shows a large white cube with a black space recessed into the foreground corner. The other shows a black box protruding from a white background. If I think of myself as that black area, I get a neat description of my relationship with the Whole. Most of the time I’m busy strutting ‘my’ stuff, and interconnectedness with the Whole is forgotten. Then, unpredictably and without invitation, Oneness strikes and I’m back in my proper place again, embedded in the Whole, being S P A C E. This is when genuine creativity flows, and I’m awed at the results.

If the perils and pitfalls of perception interest you – particularly if you’re an artist – I highly recommend Art and Illusion by E H Gombrich.

For a fascinating account of how one woman tracked her own processes of perception, look at A Life of One’s Own by Marion Milner.

And if you’d like to download my free e-book believing is seeing hop over to the e-books page. It’s full of puzzles and activities designed to demonstrate the way perception works – a handy resource for both teachers and students.