### The Golden Rectangle

There exists in nature and mathematics a unique number known as Phi, 1.618, which yields both beauty and efficiency in design.

Known as the Golden Ratio and the Divine Proportion, The Greeks used it in designing the Parthenon.

Euclid wrote of it and Da Vinci painted “The Last Supper” with it.

We can use it too - to analyze and better appreciate what already exists or to create and design your own masterpieces in the same proportions that give nature its beauty, harmony and balance.

The applications are limited only by your creativity

Because the ratio of 1:1.618 is very appealing to the eye, it works in design, and is also found everywhere in nature.

This is a Golden Rectangle

You can even find the ratio on the human body: your wrist to the second knuckle on your finger to the finger tip shares that ratio Also, your finger tip to your wrist to your elbow shares that ratio.

It’s everywhere and is a very interesting number theory.

Here’s how I construct a Golden Rectangle:

Find the middle and bisect it vertically.

Draw a diagonal line from the mid-point of your square and extend your baseline (roughly the length of your diagonal line).

Using a compass, place the point on a and the pencil on b. Swing an arc and where the arc meets the baseline will determine the length of the rectangle.

Square it up and you have a Golden Rectangle.

Here’s a mathematical shortcut - no ruler required:

If you have determined the length of one side, you can either multiply or divide by 1.618 to determine the other side.

### Splendiferous Threads Teach Form #1

Long ago I "discovered" that the weavers of these masterful threads of splendor (Baroque Tapestries) really knew their stuff and layered their colors by temperature in order to create form.

It is said that learning to paint is merely learning to "see" - better. And I learned a lot by looking at old tapestries.

This is a detail (below) of an old Baroque Tapestry border detail based on Raphael's (really cute) cherubs.

In order to create form, it is necessary to layer paint by its temperature. Please note that the color temperature of paint is relative to what surrounds it.

It is tough to see this in the Old Masters - but if you stand in front of a painting in a museum long enough - and if you know what you're looking for - you can see it.

Funny how that works, eh?

Reproductions of paintings in books makes it hard to see this. It is also hard to see on a computer monitor.

However, I "discovered" that the weavers of those old threads of splendor (Baroque Tapestries) really knew their stuff and layered their colors by temperature in order to create form.

Here's something to help you (hopefully) see better next time you visit the Old Masters in a museum.

Highlights are the lightest color and reflect the "white light" of the sun. Shiny objects have sharp well defined highlights and dull surfaces have soft and often ill-defined highlights.

I usually add a dab of white to the color of light to make a highlight.

General light is warm - relative to the color of the object. We see that sunlight tends to bleach out and warm up a color.

I like a mixture of Winsor Newton's Yellow Ochre Pale + titanium white to add to a color to make a general light.

Halftone is where light and shadow meet. Light can move very quickly into shadow and then the halftone is very small.

Or light can take a long time to turn into shadow and then the halftone is very large.

This very important transition between light and shadow (halftone) defines form and will appear cool between the warm light and warm shadow.

Shadow (no light here) is warm and luminous.

The cast shadow is very warm and deep dark reds often work here when you can get away with it.

For more on this subject, see:

and

### Splendiferous Threads Teach Form #2

Long ago I "discovered" that the weavers of these masterful threads of splendor (Baroque Tapestries) really knew their stuff and layered their colors by temperature in order to create form.

It is said that learning to paint is merely learning to "see" - better. And I learned a lot by looking at old tapestries.

This is so darn important I'm going to repeat myself - but with a different example. If you really "got it" on post #1, you don't need to read/reread this post.

This is a detail of an old Baroque Tapestry based on "The Battle of Granicus" by Charles Le Brun c.1664.

In order to create form, it is necessary to layer paint by its temperature. Please note that the color temperature of paint is relative to what surrounds it.

It is tough to see this in the Old Masters - but if you stand in front of a painting in a museum long enough - and if you know what you're looking for - you can see it.

Funny how this works, eh?

Reproductions of paintings in books makes it hard to see this. It is also hard to see on a computer monitor.

Here's something to help you (hopefully) see better next time you visit the Old Masters in a museum.

Highlights are the lightest color and reflect the "white light" of the sun. Shiny objects have sharp well defined highlights and dull surfaces have soft and often ill-defined highlights.

I usually add a dab of white to the color of light to make a highlight.

General light is warm - relative to the color of the object. We see that sunlight tends to bleach out and warm up a color.

I like a mixture of Winsor Newton's Yellow Ochre Pale + titanium white to add to a color to make a general light.

Halftone is where light and shadow meet. Light can move very quickly into shadow and then the halftone is very small.

Or light can take a long time to turn into shadow and then the halftone is very large.

This very important transition between light and shadow (halftone) defines form and will appear cool between the warm light and warm shadow.

Shadow (no light here) is warm and luminous.

The cast shadow is very warm and deep dark reds often work here when you can get away with it.

For more on this subject, see:

and

### "Why I'm Voting Republican"...not

When I'm not painting, I 'm amazed at how far and how fast our country has travelled downhill in the "proverbial handbasket."

"I’m Voting Republican" is a satirical look at the likely outcome of another four years of Republican government. The not-so-subtle message behind the film is the importance of a united bloc of citizens willing to take the time and effort to vote for change in order to improve America’s domestic and foreign policy.

### The Critique

In the world of art a "Criticism" or "Critique" generally means an analysis or judgment intended as a teaching tool. A good critique can help to identify where something might have gone wrong and hopefully fix it.

This can be a touchy subject. Not all "criticism" is valid (incl. mine for sure) because it is, after all, just one person’s opinion.

If it feels like you've been sandbagged by a grumpy 600 pound gorilla, you have probably just gotten a critique that is not helpful for you.

It is tough to venture (and receive) any criticism on a public forum. Maybe it is the word "criticism." Some people think that this means censure, condemnation, disapproval and attack.

It isn't.

My rule of thumb is to not give any criticism (i.e., advice) whatsoever unless somebody specifically asks for it.

It takes knowledge and skill to give a good critique but, all in all,  sometimes free advice is worth what you pay for it - if you get my drift.

- And -

"To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing."
- Elbert Hubbard

### Mudd Pond

Mudd Pond (in Peterborough, New Hampshire)
24" x 20" Oil on Linen, framed
\$2400

### Palette Dirt - My Favorite Color

Raw colors - straight from the tube - make me cringe. I've just got to "dirty 'em up" in order to get inspired.

This particular painting (Day Lilly Still Life) is a good illustration of the use of "palette dirt." I scumbled into the halftones in the "white" cloth to give it an "unusual"  but more lively color.

At the end of the day, the colors remaining on my palette and scraped into a pile are often too good to toss out.

There is always harmony in using "palette dirt" (usually in halftone and shadow) - after all it is from the same colors used in the larger painting. You can always adjust the "dirt" to be warm or cool as needed.

My landscapes improve with the liberal use of palette dirt. This painting, Meander, is small (8x10) and was painted at the end of the day with lots of piles of "dirt" left over from another painting.

However, you must be aware of the "color temperature" of your "dirt" and use it wisely, i.e., halftones are cool - shadows are warm and deep shadows are "hot."

You cannot mix these up even though it isn't always obvious. Color is relative to what surrounds it. There can be warm and cool blues for example and you need to know which is which or it won't work.

Except for the skin tones, most of this portrait of my father, Carl Christensen, is "palette dirt." I even scumbled warm "dirt" over "cool" dirt to make the background.

Using Palette Dirt offers me a wonderful range of neutral colors that I couldn't possible invent on my own.

If the pile of "palette dirt" is big enough, I save it.

### Day Lilly Still Life

From my garden...to the easel...and onto this blog (with a short time delay).

Day Lilly Still Life
8" x 10" Oil on Linen, framed
\$1200

### Listening to a National Train Wreck

...and strangely, it helps me to find the inspiration I need to paint.

Here's a little background to help explain this:

I've never paid much attention to "politics" - until the horrific events of 9/11. I always enjoyed classical music in the studio - then after 9/11 I switched to National Public Radio to keep informed.

This was great until the FCC appointed Tomlinson to head NPR. A Bush appointee, he began to tinker with programming and NPR began to lean toward right-wing propaganda and spin.

Although Tomlinson is long gone, I went out and bought a satellite radio (Sirius) and shifted my focus to c-span and Air America Radio.

Unfortunately, Sirius dropped Air America Radio and replaced it with something called "Talk Left" which is mostly as mindless, senseless and often as nasty as their right-wing shock jock counterparts like Limbaugh, Savage, ad nauseum.

Shortly after the '04 election, Sirius Satellite Radio dropped its broadcasting of  c-span without warning  just as the Democratic Majority began to hold investigative hearings on the abuses of power and corruption in this administration. Currently Sirius Satellite Radio was "granted" permission to buy XM Satellite Radio and now owns ALL of the satellite radio airwaves.

In desperation, my next step was to I buy a small cable TV, stick it in a corner of the studio behind my easel, and listen to c-span 1 & 2. These two channels cover Congress when it is in session - but the cameras simply roll, record and there is no spin.

I prefer my "news" straight up - i.e., relentlessly factual and not trying to entertain, pander to or fool me.

Sometimes c-span is as interesting as watching paint dry. However, when they are voting, the classical music they play is gorgeous - the best of both worlds for me.

Since I start painting early, I look forward to hearing Washington Journal each morning from 7am to 10am each morning on c-span 1.

It is with great sadness that I have followed the events of our current administration as they have torn our country apart. They have wrecked havoc and destruction on the world in so many countless ways.

Today on c-span 2's Book TV, I heard Vincent Bugliosi present his case for "The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder."

Wow! It is nearly two hours and I highly recommend it. I plan to buy the video.

This is the book - and getting THIS published was quite a story. Despite Bugliosi's other successful books and despite his fame, there has been a virtual media blackout. Despite the roadblocks, this book is on the NYT best seller list.

This is Atty Vincent Bugliosi testifying before the Congressional Hearing on the Limits of Executive Power. It is relatively short.

It was stunning - and for the first time in a long time, I have hope.

I would like to think that when we get rid of the thugs in our government at all levels I can go back to listening to soothing and inspirational classical music.

Meanwhile, I just cannot seem to take my attention away from this train wreck.

In some wacky way I am inspired by all of this negativity to paint as beautifully as I can. I wish to add to the concept of an ideal world - where the dignity, worth and beauty of every human being will become apparent to all.

If people could only catch a glimpse of this world, imposing suffering on our fellow man would end. Poverty and war would end.

I endeavor to do my part. I am confused by those who choose to not pay attention to what is happening around us. If we continue to ignore and deny, how in the heck will be ever be able to change anything for the better?

"For evil to triumph it is enough only that good men do nothing"
Edmund Burke

Who'd have ever thought that I'd ever miss Richard Nixon?

### I'm Tickled Pink & Blue About Babies

"A baby is God's opinion that the world should go on."
Carl Sandburg

TaDa! My first Grand Child, Ryan!

Born August 1, 2008 at Winchester Hospital (Massachusetts).
This little fella weighed in at 5 pounds, 14 ounces and is 18 inches long.

There is no finer investment for any community than putting milk into babies.
Winston Churchill

Making the decision to have a child - it's momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking outside your body.
Elizabeth Stone

Getting a burp out of your little thing is probably the greatest satisfaction I've come across. It's truly one of life's most satisfying moments.
Brad Pitt (on his new child)

Having a child is surely the most beautifully irrational act that two people in love can commit.
Bill Cosby

When the first baby laughed for the first time, the laugh broke into a thousand pieces and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies. And now when every new baby is born its first laugh becomes a fairy. So there ought to be.
James Matthew Barrie

A new baby is like the beginning of all things-wonder, hope, a dream of possibilities.
Eda J. Le Shan

A baby will make love stronger, days shorter, nights longer, bankroll smaller, home happier, clothes shabbier, the past forgotten, and the future worth living for.
Author Unknown

If one feels the need of something grand, something infinite, something that makes one feel aware of God, one need not go far to find it. I think that I see something deeper, more infinite, more eternal than the ocean in the expression of the eyes of a little baby when it wakes in the morning and coos or laughs because it sees the sun shining on its cradle.
Vincent van Gogh

Babies are such a nice way to start people.
Don Herrold

Diaper backward spells repaid. Think about it.
Marshall McLuhan

Ryan has big hands and feet. When he grows into them I predict that he'll be 6'4" tall like his Dad.

It sometimes happens, even in the best of families, that a baby is born. This is not necessarily cause for alarm. The important thing is to keep your wits about you and borrow some money.
Elinor Goulding Smith

People who say they sleep like a baby usually don't have one.
Leo J. Burke

I can't think why mothers love them. All babies do is leak at both ends.
Douglas Feaver

Babies haven't any hair;
Old men's heads are just as bare;
Between the cradle and the grave
Lie a haircut and a shave
Samuel Hoffenstein

There is a ''sanctity'' involved with bringing a child into this world: it is better than bombing one out of it.
James Baldwin

Babies don't need a vacation but I still see them at the beach. I'll go over to them and say, "What are you doing here, you've never worked a day in your life!"
Stephen Wright

My friend has a baby. I'm recording all the noises he makes so later I can ask him what he meant.
Stephen Wright

A baby is born with a need to be loved -- and never outgrows it.
Frank A. Clark

Father asked us, "What was God's noblest work?" Anna said, "Men", but I said "Babies". Men are often bad, but babies never are.
Louisa May Alcott

A babe in the house is a well-spring of pleasure, a messenger of peace and love, a resting place for innocence on earth, a link between angels and men.
Martin Fraquhar Tupper

My son John holding his son Ryan.

A baby is an angel whose wings decrease as his legs increase.
Author Unknown

When you have a baby, love is automatic, when you get married, love is earned.
Marie Osmond

The kind of man who thinks that helping with the dishes is beneath him will also think that helping with the baby is beneath him, and then he certainly is not going to be a very successful father.
Eleanor Roosevelt

A baby is an inestimable blessing and bother.
Mark Twain

Babies are always more trouble than you thought -- and more wonderful.
Charles Osgood

Every child begins the world again.
Henry David Thoreau

Every child born into the world is a new thought of God, an ever-fresh and radiant possibility.
Kate Douglas Wiggin

Uncle Craig holding Ryan. Despite the overwhelming attention, Ryan was determined to sleep through our visit. However Marisa told us that his eyes are a beautiful blue.

A little girl can be sweeter (and badder) oftener than anyone else in the world. She can jitter around, and stomp, and make funny noises that frazzle your nerves, yet just when you open your mouth she stands there demure with that special look in her eyes. A girl is Innocence playing in the mud, Beauty standing on its head, and Motherhood dragging a doll by the foot.
Alan Marshall Beck

Having a baby changes the way you view your in-laws. I love it when they come to visit now. They can hold the baby and I can go out.
Matthew Broderick

Children reinvent your world for you.
Susan Sarandon

From left to right: my husband Peter Wells, me, Craig, John and mom Marisa.

Mark Twain

Families with babies and families without babies are sorry for each other.
Ed Howe

It is the nature of babies to be in bliss.
Deepak Chopra

Getting down on all fours and imitating a rhinoceros stops babies from crying. (Put an empty cigarette pack on your nose for a horn and make loud "snort" noises.) I don't know why parents don't do this more often. Usually it makes the kid laugh. Sometimes it sends him into shock. Either way it quiets him down. If you're a parent, acting like a rhino has another advantage. Keep it up until the kid is a teenager and he definitely won't have his friends hanging around your house all the time.
P. J. O'Rourke

It would seem that something which means poverty, disorder and violence every single day should be avoided entirely, but the desire to beget children is a natural urge.
Phyllis Diller

Mom Marisa enjoys a piece of the original Birth Day Cake.

H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Even when freshly washed and relieved of all obvious confections, children tend to be sticky.
Fran Lebowitz

There are three reasons for breast-feeding: the milk is always at the right temperature; it comes in attractive containers; and the cat can't get it.
Irena Chalmers

A little child born yesterday
A thing on mother's milk and kisses fed.
Homer

The moment a child is born,
the mother is also born.
She never existed before.
The woman existed, but the mother, never.
A mother is something absolutely new.
Rajneesh

Spread the diaper in the position of the diamond with you at bat. Then fold second base down to home and set the baby on the pitcher's mound. Put first base and third together, bring up home plate and pin the three together. Of course, in case of rain, you gotta call the game and start all over again.
Jimmy Piersal, on how to diaper a baby