A Possible Temporary Farewell

A strange title perhaps…perhaps not. You see, my computer has been on the verge of dying for the last couple weeks, and every day is a challenge just to see if I can get it up and running for another session. Once I do get it running, the fear is that every moment I keep it that way is one less moment that I’ll have if something of truly monumental importance comes up for which I need the computer’s services at some as yet unforeseen time in the immediate future.

At any rate, I also realize I can’t just leave the silly thing sitting there doing nothing because of baseless worries about things outside of my control. If it’s going to die, then it’s time has come, and all I can say is that it served me well in it’s brief but hectic existence upon this mortal plane. So that leaves me with this blog and the matter of adding something new to it (which I certainly haven’t done in quite a while). And as it turns out, I think I came across just the thing in my travels on the computer at the library while I was looking up some of my old pages to see if there was anything there that might be of help with some other things I was working on (better to burn out the library’s computer than mine : ).

A long time ago, while I was still exploring whether or not I had any artistic talent, I went through a phase where I enhanced the small amount of talent I did have (very small) through the use of various art programs available for download on the Net. Some were “fractal” programs, others were specialized “brush” programs like “Twisted Brush” and such. Most were free downloads, and all of them were a lot of fun to play with. Adding the rather insignificant amount of artistic talent that I inherently possess to these easy-to-use programs, I was soon able to build up a small collection of “interesting(?)” artwork that I posted to a well-known art site called Deviant Art. I decided to post that gallery here today. If a couple of the pieces are blurred a little, it could be because I drew them as “buttons” for use in computer programs (“A Rose For Anne” is one such piece). The image of the young girl that you may recognize as a famous magazine cover, took me three days to copy free-hand with my computer mouse, using the old grid method that people use to enlarge small pictures. I did the same thing with a picture of Cecilia Bartoli (“Thanks For The Music), but that picture was not in my Deviant Art gallery, so we’ll have to save it for another time.

At any rate, for better or worse, here they are, and here we go.

So like I’ve sort of said, I don’t know how long this machine is going to keep kicking, but as long as it does, I’ll try to keep in touch. If you don’t hear from me for awhile, it probably doesn’t mean Hillary got me (I hope), it probably just means I’m working out the best way to obtain my next electronic sidekick. In the meantime, you folks stay healthy, happy, and safe.


Fantastic Fractals

A little while back I was telling you about how throughout my entire life I wanted to be an artist, but always felt that I really had no artistic talent. Well before I get jumped all over again by some people who I have come to realize only have my best interests at heart, let me just say this. I no longer am completely of that opinion. It was pointed out to me that perhaps my idea as to just what constituted an “artist” might be in need of a certain adjustment, that perhaps I should be looking at it from a different perspective. Maybe the fact is I can’t sit down and draw a picture out of my head, and perhaps even working from a model, it might take me days or weeks to complete an acceptable image, but who ever said art was restricted to free-form drawing. What I do seem to have a knack for is working with abstract shapes and forms, as well as dealing with colors, and the many applications thereof. Maybe the shapes I like to mess around with have no relation to anything in the everyday world, but if I apply myself to it, I can usually manage to arrange these random shapes into constructs and orders that for one reason or another, some people find pleasing to the eye, and as far as I can tell, that is at least one acceptable definition of what we call art.

I had an inkling of this idea a while back, maybe two, maybe three years ago, and I stumbled across a tool that I could use with which I spent several months making an entire series of  images which I then used as my computer screensaver. The tool I’m referring to was a free “Fractal Generator” program, called Winfract, and what it did was generate colored fractal patterns on the computer screen using recurring mathematical formulas. Quite basically, if you program a computer to draw an arc, or a sweeping curve, and then you set it to continually repeat, but first, you alter the math so that the curve, or the arc, is drawn just slightly off kilter on each pass. then, by adding in depth, and changing colors to coordinate with those depths, you soon have a beautiful multi-colored image on the screen that would be impossible for a human to draw by hand. Sort of like the mother-of-all-etch-a-sketch pictures, and they’ve only gotten better, and even more complex as the years have gone by.

The first thing to understand about fractals is they mean drastically different things to different people, and it would be impossible to describe thoroughly even the simplest meaning in a vehicle the size of a Blog. When mathematically talking about fractals, over half of the mathematicians in the world would have to sit the conversation out, and I think I’m being generous. Then there’s the fractal in Nature. You see, one of the most distinguishing features of a fractal is that if you take any piece of a fractal and magnify it, you will see that it is made up of several pieces the exact same shape as the one you are magnifying. If you take one of those tiny little individual pieces, and magnify it, you’ll find the same thing, that each of those pieces are made up of many tinier little pieces exactly the same shape as the one you started with in the first place. So what does this have to do with Nature? Quite simply, it is the exact method by which most trees are built up, it the same pattern that was discovered by a famous cartographer as he was trying to map the coastline along the English coast, and its the same way the cells work as they build up into the organs of your body. That’s just a very few of the places that fractals are found in Nature.

But for our purposes, we want to take a look at what this meant for me, when I could first generate a fractal pattern using the free program that I had downloaded from the Internet, in another attempt to create some form of art that I, myself, could be happy with. And in all fairness, I should point out that it’s not just a simple point and shoot program. The person who is generating the fractal is responsible for choosing multiple variables having to do with the mathematical formula, the repetitions of iterations, the colors that are used, and many other things. With some of those choices, such as the more involved mathematical formulae, though I didn’t necessarily understand the math, I used a lot of trial and error to figure out what each adjustment did to the finished work. After the fractal was drawn, the image would be transferred to a regular everyday art program like Paint.net, or Gimp, or whatever, and final cropping, arrangements, and adjustments would be made. Then, if I liked it, it was given a place of honor in my Screensaver folder, which I am now going to share with you.

And that is what fractal art looks like in at least the form that I have managed to work into it at. The good news is I’ve just obtained a new Fractal Generator, called Chaos Pro, and as soon as I give the help files a going over, I plan to be taking it out for a test drive and I’ll be sure to let you all know just how it goes. By the way, if anyone should feel like using any of these for a screensaver or whatever, feel free, they worked well enough for me for a long time. If you should use them, I hope you enjoy them. So thanks for dropping by, and we’ll see you again. Until then…

Fantastic Fractals