Archive for March, 2009

A Visit To Muse Art and Design, or Gamblin Torrit Gray; We Haz It!

Posted in art, art materials, art supply retailers on March 31, 2009 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis
2003.A few discourses back I mentioned stumbling on news of a new art supply store here in town, Muse Art and Design. Today, we got a chance to check it out, and we were well pleased.

It’s a cozy little space tucked in just to the east of yet another vintage store on the corner of SE 42nd and Hawthorne, on the south side. It goes back a ways, and is a little store, but they pack a lot in there, oils, watercolor, acrylics, inks, the requisite endcap for Sumi-e materials (I joke, but you do seem to find them everywhere), Copic markers for the manga-ka, even beeswax for encaustic.

The web page touts affordable prices and this is one boast, I’m happy to say, that gets lived up to. There were a whole lot of affordable art materials there, including Daniel Smith watercolors (I understand you can’t find those too many places hereabouts) and everything had a price break on it. My mind is hardly an eidetic store but I dont remember getting too much sticker shock there.

Prices were reasonable and the stock was of a rather respectable quality, with all the brands you’d expect to find in a first-rank art store. The fellows behind the counter were affable and approachable and loved chatting about what they were doing with the store.

Particularly this month they’re having an artist a day come into the store and set up shop in the front window, to have the work product displayed on the walls, day-by-day (they already have the canvases up for them–speaking of which, they have an excellent selection of grounds as well).

Now, mind you, we have a powerhouse art supplier in Art Media and Aaron Brothers will do in a pinch. But I do think that the Portland area can (and ought to) support a few more good art supply sources in town, and Muse Art and Design certainly deserves support. We plan on returning there from time to time; I’m taking up manga, see, and they sell Copic markers …

Anyway, the other thing to come out of this is that, well, y’all’l remember a few missives back I reported on Gamblin’s unique and brilliant idea to take the particulate out of the Torit filters and create the unique Torrit Gray. Around the first of April, Robert Gamblin sends Torrit Gray out to art supply stores where it’s free for the asking.

While at Muse, I asked. And they did. Here’s the proof:

PROMOTIONAL, NOT FOR RESALE, says the label on the top; below the logo, we have In honor of Earth Day, we make this color from recycled pigments collected from our air filtration system. Which, as I’ve said before, is cooler than cool.

With the reputation for quality and the commitment to being awesome to the environment that this suggests, I, not for the first time, wish that Gamblin made watercolors.

Also I mentioned that Gamblin does a Torrit Gray painting competition, and it’s on; you can submit three paintings made with Torrit Gray, white, and black (a value study; always challenging). First prize is $500, and there are two $350 Honorable Mentions.

Information can be found at http://gamblincolors.com.

I don’t know if I’m going to submit anything. I will be playing with this though.

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A Visit To Muse Art and Design, or Gamblin Torrit Gray; We Haz It!

Posted in art, art materials, art supply retailers on March 31, 2009 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis
2003.A few discourses back I mentioned stumbling on news of a new art supply store here in town, Muse Art and Design. Today, we got a chance to check it out, and we were well pleased.

It’s a cozy little space tucked in just to the east of yet another vintage store on the corner of SE 42nd and Hawthorne, on the south side. It goes back a ways, and is a little store, but they pack a lot in there, oils, watercolor, acrylics, inks, the requisite endcap for Sumi-e materials (I joke, but you do seem to find them everywhere), Copic markers for the manga-ka, even beeswax for encaustic.

The web page touts affordable prices and this is one boast, I’m happy to say, that gets lived up to. There were a whole lot of affordable art materials there, including Daniel Smith watercolors (I understand you can’t find those too many places hereabouts) and everything had a price break on it. My mind is hardly an eidetic store but I dont remember getting too much sticker shock there.

Prices were reasonable and the stock was of a rather respectable quality, with all the brands you’d expect to find in a first-rank art store. The fellows behind the counter were affable and approachable and loved chatting about what they were doing with the store.

Particularly this month they’re having an artist a day come into the store and set up shop in the front window, to have the work product displayed on the walls, day-by-day (they already have the canvases up for them–speaking of which, they have an excellent selection of grounds as well).

Now, mind you, we have a powerhouse art supplier in Art Media and Aaron Brothers will do in a pinch. But I do think that the Portland area can (and ought to) support a few more good art supply sources in town, and Muse Art and Design certainly deserves support. We plan on returning there from time to time; I’m taking up manga, see, and they sell Copic markers …

Anyway, the other thing to come out of this is that, well, y’all’l remember a few missives back I reported on Gamblin’s unique and brilliant idea to take the particulate out of the Torit filters and create the unique Torrit Gray. Around the first of April, Robert Gamblin sends Torrit Gray out to art supply stores where it’s free for the asking.

While at Muse, I asked. And they did. Here’s the proof:

PROMOTIONAL, NOT FOR RESALE, says the label on the top; below the logo, we have In honor of Earth Day, we make this color from recycled pigments collected from our air filtration system. Which, as I’ve said before, is cooler than cool.

With the reputation for quality and the commitment to being awesome to the environment that this suggests, I, not for the first time, wish that Gamblin made watercolors.

Also I mentioned that Gamblin does a Torrit Gray painting competition, and it’s on; you can submit three paintings made with Torrit Gray, white, and black (a value study; always challenging). First prize is $500, and there are two $350 Honorable Mentions.

Information can be found at http://gamblincolors.com.

I don’t know if I’m going to submit anything. I will be playing with this though.

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New Street Blade at 75th And SE Division – But We Need Rewrite!

Posted in information design, Portland Street Blades, Sign Design, Street Blade Gallery on March 31, 2009 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis
2002.Spotted another new street blade, this time at SE 75th and Division:

It was notable for being one of the half-and-half assemblies (half-old, half-new …  The Wife™ calls them “hybrids”) with the old one atop the new one. As such, it’s not worth getting too excited about – certainly not worth going back and getting another look at right away, except for one thing. And if you’ve got a sharp eye, you’ve probably already seen it. Here it is up close:

That’s right – the block index, which should be on the named blade, is on the numbered one. There’s a couple of incorrectitudes here; it suffers from the general assumption that SE Division Street is the 2500 block along its entire urban length (it isn’t; from SE 42nd to SE 82nd Avenues it jogs a block north, and becomes the 2400 block) and as this is actually on the north side of Division, if indicating the block face were the intent here, that ought 2300, not 2500.

In as much as all of the new blades up until now have supported the old convention of displaying the crossing-block, we are compelled to assume that this is a bit of an error, and plaintively call for rewrite as I did for those blades out alone NE and SE 148th Avenue.

The documentation is ongoing.

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New Street Blade at 75th And SE Division – But We Need Rewrite!

Posted in information design, Portland Street Blades, Sign Design, Street Blade Gallery on March 31, 2009 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis
2002.Spotted another new street blade, this time at SE 75th and Division:

It was notable for being one of the half-and-half assemblies (half-old, half-new …  The Wife™ calls them “hybrids”) with the old one atop the new one. As such, it’s not worth getting too excited about – certainly not worth going back and getting another look at right away, except for one thing. And if you’ve got a sharp eye, you’ve probably already seen it. Here it is up close:

That’s right – the block index, which should be on the named blade, is on the numbered one. There’s a couple of incorrectitudes here; it suffers from the general assumption that SE Division Street is the 2500 block along its entire urban length (it isn’t; from SE 42nd to SE 82nd Avenues it jogs a block north, and becomes the 2400 block) and as this is actually on the north side of Division, if indicating the block face were the intent here, that ought 2300, not 2500.

In as much as all of the new blades up until now have supported the old convention of displaying the crossing-block, we are compelled to assume that this is a bit of an error, and plaintively call for rewrite as I did for those blades out alone NE and SE 148th Avenue.

The documentation is ongoing.

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Colors In Hyperspace

Posted in art, color design, color theory on March 31, 2009 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis
2001.From color wheels to the Wilcox Bias Wheel we’ve gotten theoretical. Now get ready to go seriously abstruse.

Just as the inhabitants of Flatland know there is a third dimension above the two-dimensional world they live in but can’t comprehend, the world of the flat 2-D color wheel tells just half of the story. There is a way to arrange color values along a three-dimensional rationale.

Color can be quantified three ways:

  1. Every color has a hue, or its essential color. When we say Yellow, we are talking hue.
  2. Every color is also modified by its value. This is how light or dark the color is. A simple value scale is a gradient from black to white through tones of gray. Art students typically are asked to create 10-step value scales as an exercise.
  3. And, every color has a chroma. This is how “colorful” your color is, how yellow your yellow is; when artists speak of saturation, this is what they’re saying The most colorful color is, for instance, that yellowest yellow – the least colorful color is gray – if you take all the yellow out of your yellow. Colors with low key chroma are dull and gray, and this is the same for all colors.

Just there exist three axes we can use to construct a 3-D conception of colors and how they relate to each other.

We’ve gone to the next level; welcome to color hyperspace.

Originally, color theorist Otto Runge (ca 1810) concieved of a sphere an idea that was forwarded by Johannes Itten later, perhaps reasoning via the love of the human mind for symmetrical depictions of natural things. Ostwald, even later, depicted the color space as a double-cone.

The flaw in this reasoning has to do with human perception. When plotted on a 3-D solid, one would assume that the pure colors would line up about the equator of the solid, and this is not the case:

The problem with both the sphere and the symmetrical cone conceptions of colour space is that, as we have just seen, different hues reach their maximum chroma at different tonal levels.  Putting all of the pure colours on the equator of the solid ensures that the vertical dimension does not represent lightness. Consequently neither the Runge-Itten sphere nor the Ostwald double cone is a true hue-chroma-lightness space. If the vertical dimension of the solid is to represent lightness, then we need in some way to tilt the colour wheel through space, so that yellow occupies a high position opposite light grey and blue occupies a low position opposite dark grey.

So if your axis, your value scale, is to work, you also have to respect that the purest colors will not occur at the same values. The symetrical solid will not work truly.

In order to make a solid work, an irregular solid will work. Purest blue has a lower value than purest yellow, so the solution turned out (through the work of various color theorists staring ca 1880, culminating in the work of a certain Albert Henry Munsell in the early 20th) to be a skewed double cone, something we call today the Munsell Color Solid. Above and to the right should be a image from Wikipedia giving the basics (and click here to see the big version or click on the illustration itself). Here, from David Briggs article at HueValueChroma The Dimensions Of Color is an illustration that really spoke to me about it. You can probably find others yourself with teh Google:


Illustration copyright David Briggs, included for illustration only.
Creator retains full rights to this illustration.

When smoothed out, it looks like a squished globe. The plot in the lower right there really makes the concept come up. As you can see, from up to down everything gets darker. On the lower right of the 3-D display, note that the blue there is the bluest blue; on the upper left, they yellowest yellow is of a significantly higher value. The system is consistent, respects its own rules, and works.

It is not necessarily likely that you’ll use the Munsell solid directly, but like the most abstruse philosophy, the thinking behind is presumably underlies the color theory that the layman is most familiar with. It is data that will probably help you a little bit in deciding on using colors based on the qualities you actually see them with.

Here’s a few links for you:

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Colors In Hyperspace

Posted in art, color design, color theory on March 31, 2009 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis
2001.From color wheels to the Wilcox Bias Wheel we’ve gotten theoretical. Now get ready to go seriously abstruse.

Just as the inhabitants of Flatland know there is a third dimension above the two-dimensional world they live in but can’t comprehend, the world of the flat 2-D color wheel tells just half of the story. There is a way to arrange color values along a three-dimensional rationale.

Color can be quantified three ways:

  1. Every color has a hue, or its essential color. When we say Yellow, we are talking hue.
  2. Every color is also modified by its value. This is how light or dark the color is. A simple value scale is a gradient from black to white through tones of gray. Art students typically are asked to create 10-step value scales as an exercise.
  3. And, every color has a chroma. This is how “colorful” your color is, how yellow your yellow is; when artists speak of saturation, this is what they’re saying The most colorful color is, for instance, that yellowest yellow – the least colorful color is gray – if you take all the yellow out of your yellow. Colors with low key chroma are dull and gray, and this is the same for all colors.

Just there exist three axes we can use to construct a 3-D conception of colors and how they relate to each other.

We’ve gone to the next level; welcome to color hyperspace.

Originally, color theorist Otto Runge (ca 1810) concieved of a sphere an idea that was forwarded by Johannes Itten later, perhaps reasoning via the love of the human mind for symmetrical depictions of natural things. Ostwald, even later, depicted the color space as a double-cone.

The flaw in this reasoning has to do with human perception. When plotted on a 3-D solid, one would assume that the pure colors would line up about the equator of the solid, and this is not the case:

The problem with both the sphere and the symmetrical cone conceptions of colour space is that, as we have just seen, different hues reach their maximum chroma at different tonal levels.  Putting all of the pure colours on the equator of the solid ensures that the vertical dimension does not represent lightness. Consequently neither the Runge-Itten sphere nor the Ostwald double cone is a true hue-chroma-lightness space. If the vertical dimension of the solid is to represent lightness, then we need in some way to tilt the colour wheel through space, so that yellow occupies a high position opposite light grey and blue occupies a low position opposite dark grey.

So if your axis, your value scale, is to work, you also have to respect that the purest colors will not occur at the same values. The symetrical solid will not work truly.

In order to make a solid work, an irregular solid will work. Purest blue has a lower value than purest yellow, so the solution turned out (through the work of various color theorists staring ca 1880, culminating in the work of a certain Albert Henry Munsell in the early 20th) to be a skewed double cone, something we call today the Munsell Color Solid. Above and to the right should be a image from Wikipedia giving the basics (and click here to see the big version or click on the illustration itself). Here, from David Briggs article at HueValueChroma The Dimensions Of Color is an illustration that really spoke to me about it. You can probably find others yourself with teh Google:


Illustration copyright David Briggs, included for illustration only.
Creator retains full rights to this illustration.

When smoothed out, it looks like a squished globe. The plot in the lower right there really makes the concept come up. As you can see, from up to down everything gets darker. On the lower right of the 3-D display, note that the blue there is the bluest blue; on the upper left, they yellowest yellow is of a significantly higher value. The system is consistent, respects its own rules, and works.

It is not necessarily likely that you’ll use the Munsell solid directly, but like the most abstruse philosophy, the thinking behind is presumably underlies the color theory that the layman is most familiar with. It is data that will probably help you a little bit in deciding on using colors based on the qualities you actually see them with.

Here’s a few links for you:

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State of nogerO: Oregon, Backwards

Posted in information design, map design, Oregon on March 31, 2009 by Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis
2000.There are thirty-six counties in Oregon and just about thirty-six ways of looking at things. What if we took the names of those POVs and mixed them up just a bit?

This map is a map of Oregon’s thirty-six counties but the names have been changed to provide food for thought. In a spreadsheet, I ordered the counties largest-to-smallest population, then created another list from smallest-to-largest. Pairing the lists and remapping the names, I then went down the combined list, labeling the county with the smallest population (Wheeler) with the name of the county with the biggest population (Multnomah). Here’s what I got:


Clicky here to embiggen (Some of the names come out pretty small).

I found the way the names broke to be interesting both in the expected and the unexpected way. As I expected, a lot of wetside counties fled east and a lot of dryside counties fled west. Notice that the three biggest Oregon counties – the legendary Portland Metro area – still touch, but to get to Washington (schematically anyhow), you’d have to travel through Clackamas. Polk (now sitting in Union County’s place) now separates Marion (whose seat is the state capital, Salem) from Lane (seat: Eugene), and I’m sure the idea of the U of O somewhere in the Wallowas sets more than one extreme sports-oriented college student alight.

Ironically, the three counties of the Portland Metro Area still abut the Columbia River, but along Clackamas and Washington – which is exactly the opposite from reality.

As interesting as the counties that changed region is the ones that didn’t so much, like Jackson-which simply shifted eastward across the lower tier-and Harney and Deschutes counties have simply switched places. Counties containing regional centers-such as Josephine (seat: Grants Pass) and Jefferson (seat: Madras) mapped to each other.

If nothing else, it seems to show a clearer division between small-town Oregon (places like Fossil, K-Falls, and Prineville) Mid-size town Oregon (Bend, Pendleton) and Big-city Oregon (Portland, Salem, Eugene).

And, finally, really if nothing else, the mental luggage that each name carries mapped to an unexpected place really causes you (well, me anyway) to look at assumptions we tend to carry about regional stereotypes and character. With Oregon covering nearly 100,000 square miles, this is info recoding writ large.

And it was a fun little mental game too.

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