Art: some stories and some how-to (with html help)

(8:00PM EST – promoted by Nightprowlkitty)


I’m not really a big devotee of Christmas.  My partner is, however.  So she expects to receive presents and she expects to give me some. You best believe every present she gives me is lovingly wrapped in custom gift wrapping paper!

On Christmas day, we received two boxes of top-of-the-line marshmallows, A box each of key lime apples and key lime pears, a “care package” from our Iranian sister-in-law (which includes baklava, raisins, and a lot of food objects of the more strangely Persian variety), and a gingerbread lighthouse, which we have thus far successfully kept sealed.

And Debbie received some socks and I got a comfy pair of fleece lined booties to replace the pair which had finally fallen apart.

Debbie’s other presents have not arrived yet.  She collects dolls and I ordered her two expensive ones which will take several more days to get here.

And I got an upgrade for my art program…


In the past two days, I have been taking the new program out for a spin, as it were, trying to discover the ways in which it is the same and how, precisely, it is different.  I’ve mostly struggled with the latter.  Changes which the documentation assures me were supposed to make the program easier to use seemed to make some of my favorite movements impossible…so I had to learn to overcome those with some sort of workaround.

The results are the pieces you see included here, which have no story arc, no overarching theme to guide any meditation.  But some may notice a difference in the level of complexity.  Is it because of the upgrade of the program or because of an upgrade of my skills using it?

I don’t know.

I like to think I’ve just been inspired to go beyond what I have done in the past.  That may or may not always be good, all things considered thing.  There is often something to be said for simplicity.


I started making my graphics in the mid 90s, when I was first diagnosed with cataracts in my late 40s.  The possibility of losing my sight was a strong motivator to attempting to do something visual.  In junior high school I had been identified as having some artistic talent and nominated for…and then invited to participate in…a summer art program at Reed College in Portland, OR.  My father did not let me participate in that, since it would have conflicted with him being the coach of my Babe Ruth baseball team.

So all I had done artistically in this life was doodle.  That would change

When I started making graphics I was using the old Windows 3.2 program PaintBrush, which later became MS Paint. Painting pixel by pixel was quite compelling to someone who had been suffering for decades with OCD.  I called the pieces created in this period my sand paintings.  

Eventually I added a program called LView Pro which enabled me to dynamically adjust the hues of the pieces I created, and Corel Photoshop, which allowed me to rotate, reflect and otherwise manipulate my graphics, enabling me to make what came to be called my eggs.


Artists break:  The graphic to the right has no name…yet.  Submissions are definite being asked for.  Left to my own devices, I’d probably come up with something lame.  All the numbered pieces need names.

And did I mention that if you click on any graphic, a new version should open in another tab.  Well, I guess that is provided you don’t already have too many tabs open.  If that is the case, I’m sorry for crashing your browser.

One Xmas I was given another art program, called Sausage Reptile (unavailable now since Sausage went out of business, so the registration number became unusable last time I upgraded my computer), which enabled the dynamic creation of gradients, which I used as a starting place for my graphics.  Step 1:  spill some color onto the palette.

Debbie also gave me a copy of MetaCreations Painter Classic which she had obtained from somewhere and never used.  And I was off to the races, as they say.  


MetaCreations was eventually bought by Corel.  The result was Corel Painter X which is, from my viewpoint, a combination of PhotoHouse and Painter Classic.  Some things were lost, but it was nice not to have to change programs for every step along the way.

One of the things that was included was the ability to edit gradients.  Okay, so it wasn’t dynamic like Reptile, but at least I could build my own palettes.

Step 1:  spill some paint.

Step 2:  take it for a spin

Painter X (and 1) both have a built-in program called Quick Warp, which allows a planar graphic to be Swirled, Rippled, given a Bump or a Valley, or my favorite:  projected onto a three dimensional object such as a sphere or diamond-shaped prism, which is then projected back into the plane.

The next step is most likely Undo, if I am unhappy with the results.  Repeat Steps 1 and 2 until I am pleased.


Since the graphics included here had no ultimate purpose, I was easily pleased during their creation.

From there on it is mostly repetitive.  Add some more color to the canvas.  Do a bit more warping.  Maybe Adjust the Colors or Brightness/Contrast or Dye Concentration or some other form of tweaking.

Somewhere along the line I started using Scale and Rotate.  Scale enables me to change the size of a piece, which I can copy and paste into another layer.  Thus I can tile the image in various different ways, either as rectangular images or after rotation.

In Painter X I found it interesting that after scaling and rotating (rotation is not usually allowed except on pieces which have previously been scaled), Quick Warp would often result in layers which had some transparent areas.  Cool!


In Painter 11, that seems to be harder to create, so I will probably switch back and forth from X to 11 until I learn the intricacies of the newer version.

So here is pretty much what I do:

Spill color.



Copy and paste into tiled versions.

Drop the layers.


The key to everything is the Undo button and knowing when to press it…and when not to do so.

I’ve also created a few pieces using another art program from Corel, called Bryce 4, which I understand is currently up to Bryce 7.  After I retire, I may return to that.

Meanwhile, I will continue to do my graphics for the reason originally intended.  They are my meditation on beauty and creation.  I’ve learned, among many other things, that beauty is ephemeral and that creation is never complete.  There is always something that looks better and each completed version is really only a place to temporarily stop, for now.



Wind Chimes

Normally that would have been a good place to stop, but here I am with five six more graphics (the number grew because I had to contend with vertical spacing issues).  So maybe it is time for some more teaching, this time about using graphics in your diaries.

The basic idea is to insert something like the following code:

Note that the address must be an approved graphic hosting site.  Yes, you will have to get your own account unless you want to raid other people’s accounts for the pics you want.  I that’s what you want to do, shame on you.  Nothing I hate more than seeing my pieces being passed off as someone else’s work.  At least give credit where credit is due.



The variable width should be set to some number probably smaller than 500 for the sake of safety (i.e. not breaking out of the column width restrictions).  In this essay, I have used width = 350, which allows a sufficient amount of available space to do word wrapping.

Word wrapping can be done by adding some code:

Of course, one could use align = right as well.  Align = left means the pic will be to the left and the words to the right.  Align = right means the pic is to the right and the words to the left.  Align = center doesn’t work in this context:  you cannot wrap around both left and right simultaneously.

I found that putting some space between my graphics and my words makes it look a bit better.  That can be accomplished with more code:


Horizontal spacing (hspace) is usually sufficient.  I’ve rarely found the need to use vspace as well.

Please note that when using word wrapping, your picture code is placed before the words to be wrapped.  Also note that if your pics are too close together vertically, they will obstruct one another.

A keen eye may notice that, for all I have said about space between my images and my words, I don’t seem to have done that very well here.  That’s because I am using some additional code which allows the titles to be added under the graphics and as an additional feature allows me to center pictures.  I have encased each of my graphics in a one by one table.

Sample code:


The variable hspace is not allowed to be used with tables at Daily Kos.  It is possible to manipulate the background color in a table, as some may have noticed I do in my poems (which use a table inside of a table) and it used to be allowed to manipulate the font, font size, and font color in tables, but we shall have to be content to pine wistfully for those times.


As to the code that is there, the align = center in the table tag refers to the alignment of the table.  In this case the table and its contents will should be centered.  tr defines a row and td defines a column.  the align = “center” in the td tag will align everything in the table column to the center (note the title of the graphic in the example above).  The br is a line break, which can usually be accomplished by just hitting enter (however some browsers may not pick up the enter, but should read the line break).


The only thing that is left for me to add anything about is the fact that you can click on my graphics and see larger versions.  How does that happen?  More code.

If I encase the img src code in a href code, I can make a link to wherever I wish.  In this case I have chosen a link to a larger version.  The cope snippet target=”_blank” opens the link in a new tab.


You can also put YouTube videos in tables so that you can word wrap around them.  In fact, that’s the only way your going to be able to do that many places.

If there is anything I have left out, just ask.  I’ll be hanging around for quite a bit.  Debbie has grades due at City Tech in Brooklyn tomorrow and has to finish grading papers for that Psych class, so I’m sitting here giving her moral support.

One last image, at width = 450:



Skip to comment form

    • Robyn on December 27, 2009 at 7:33 pm

    …assigned one are not carved in stone, so if you have something you think is better, I am willing to listen.

    Several people, myself included are enamored of Testier.  All I can say is that I wish I could remember how that happened.  But I do have the tools available to reverse engineer it to find out.

    Please use this as you wish.



    Or just be entertained.

    It’s all good.


    • Robyn on December 27, 2009 at 8:13 pm

    …over at DK and got errors which won’t go away.


    For anyone interested:  link

  1. I love it, I have no idea what you did new or different but they are certainly whole new level. Beautiful!

    Im trying to venture in to tech areas I should not. lol. Anybody wanna check for me to be sure I embedded the PayPal link in my husband’s website right?  The website deal we have is… very easy, I just use their pre-set templates. So I plopped it in there, even though the PP thing is tricky. Ill be working on the whole site a bit more this coming week, its a bit jumbled at the moment. Heres the link. Its under DVD INFO BUY tab.  

    • Alma on December 27, 2009 at 9:13 pm

    The new pieces seem to pulse with their own life.  I think it must be a mixture of your new program and your talent skyrocketing.  🙂

    • TMC on December 28, 2009 at 12:03 am

    Thank you for sharing your precious gift.  

    • Robyn on December 28, 2009 at 3:41 am

    How are you this evening?

  2. I’m saving this diary as reference.  I’m in the process of ‘learning’ the Adobe Creative Suite. I do print, not web and I used Coral Draw for years but it is (by design) impossible to use it as Adobe is the only program that allows you to get stuff printed. All my Coral files are useless as Adobe won’t accept them. Refuses to acknowledge them. In my personal art I still use Coral, and this essay is invaluable. The mechanism behind your magic. I am saving this to study later as I’m sure a lot of what you do is applicable to any artist trying to create digital images. thanks again what a great present this is. I was just on my way to Illustrator to tackle my new drawing tablet and some layers, when I saw this.          

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