Haiku ~ The Wedding

Haiku ~ The Wedding

Today another Royal couple were created for the House of Windsor (or rather, Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, until the political change) and also for the paparazzi. After months of build up we will see further weeks of pictures of the wedding followed by the usual “is she pregnant yet?” speculation  for months on end up until the point at least two royal sproglets are dutifully produced to (Royal) Order.

Unsurprisingly, I didn’t watch the wedding, but instead decided to use the opportunity to celebrate the day by restarting my blog (yet again – I’ve been very busy) with the following haiku.

Enjoy, or not, the choice is yours!):


Worldwide coverage.

Amid pomp and vanity,

Privileged couple wed


Having said all this, I obviously wish them all the best for a long and happy future together.


The Art of Lyme Disease

As part of our bucolic Pennsylvanian environment we have many deer traipsing across our property throughout the year. These pleasant little groups, especially when they have the fawns with them, are nice to see, although, despite the best attempts of Disney, they do have a few annoying, and even darker traits.

The most direct impact they have is their relentless browsing on many things in our garden. We have had many plants, both vegetables and flowers taken, and much damage done to young trees and shrubs too by these marauding hordes. In their defense, it’s understandable as to them we are nothing more than a provider of a herbivorous smorgasbord from which to dine, but it’s bloody annoying nevertheless.  

That being said, these hoofed visitors are generally harmless to us, though, with two notable exceptions. Firstly, they have a tendency to leap out in front of traffic, so injuring or killing not only themselves but many drivers who hit them and, secondly, they are a significant part of the lifecycle for the parasite that causes the Lyme disease that is so prevalent in our area.

Lyme disease is an infectious disease caused by the spirochete parasite Borellia burdorferi which is carried by the deer tick, Ixodes scapularis, and delivered when the tick is having a good blood meal on a human being. This little payload can cause a classic “bullseye” rash of concentric red rings on the skin as the infection spreads, although it does not occur in all cases. Once infected the victim exhibits flu-like symptoms of fever, fatigue, muscle aches and generally feeling unwell. If it is diagnosed quickly enough then one or two 28-day treatment cycles of oral doxycycline should take care of it, although there can be long term effects which include joint pain, arthritis and neuropathies.

The weird thing, from my perspective, is that a person does not obtain immunity from the infectious agent, but can be reinfected. I know this as I have been immunologically diagnosed with this twice in 3 years so far.

So, as I sat here over the weekend I thought I’d create some “Lyme inspired” artwork, in the style of those pop art posters. Lyme Disease – the gift that keeps on giving!





A Story – Keyhole Figures

It was only a brief vision, but it left him stone cold nonetheless. They had said that early in the morning, when the place was quiet that strange things happened near that door. He had been doing his regular rounds but was a little delayed when he passed the space. Maybe only ten minutes but it made all the difference. He felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand up and and a deadening silence as he passed. Glancing over his left shoulder as he walked down the incline he saw the figures quite clearly. A young woman in a shawl and a small boy. They just stared at him as if they were expecting him to be someone else. Their gazes bored into him with longing. He blinked and they were gone, but he shivered and quickened his pace. He made up the ten minutes by the time he reached the end of his rounds. He would definitely not be late again…



Vermeer Revisited

Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675) was an astounding Dutch painter who specialized in fairly mundane scenes of 17th century domesticity around his home town of Delft.

I don’t know what possessed me really, but I have recently seen his famous painting from 1665, “Girl with a Pearl Earring” so many times that this image has lodged itself in my brain rather in a similar way to a musical earworm. As a result I spent several hours over the last couple of days revisiting this classic work and adding my own interpretations.

Girl with No Earring
Girl with a Razor Blade
Girl in a Space Helmet


Stock Market Skylines

If you have been observing the online art world over the last few years you may have noticed just how popular have become city skyline silhouettes, often in dark colors but also as watercolors.

As graphic artwork they have a certain appeal and the other day as i was looking at the stock market online I noticed that the daily trade volume of shares could also be viewed as a sort of “skyline.” I have therefore created a series of graphic art images based on the volumes of shares traded daily on the Dow Jones Index tracker over an entire year.

It would certainly make for a conversation piece on the wall of a stock trader. Here’s the one for 2009 – what do you think?


If you click the image it will take you to my art website and show you more from the series.



I have been meaning to create this graphic for a while and finally got around to doing it after being on the periphery of yet another “shall we, shan’t we” conversation regarding a trip (or not) to one movie theater (or another) and what time to go. All this of course assumes that the in house chauffeur will drop anything he had planned and then deliver said daughter (via friend’s house for a pick up) to the theater and then will return at time to be confirmed for a repeat of collection and drop off.

So, for those under-appreciated soccer moms and dad drivers (which I concatenate to Dadriver) here’s a little tribute and reminder to our kids…



The Art of QR Codes


You have probably seen these weird looking blocks of black and white squares on packages and leaflets, and even on the billboards and buildings, but do you really understand what they are and how you can benefit from them as an artist?

What is a QR code?

Over the last several decades we have all become used to barcodes, with their characteristic zebra-stripes, being printed on all our packaging to make stock control easy in the supermarket and beyond, but in the last few years you may also have noticed the quiet arrival of a new variant of this object in the shape of a black and white set of dots in a square shape. This is a new form of 2-dimensional barcode called a Quick Response code, or QR code, which is able to convey a lot more information than the old stripey barcodes in a format that all users of common modern technology can use without a laser in sight. These squares of high contrast are not only used to identify a product but can also provide a quick link to a website for further information. Unique QR codes can, in fact, be created and used by anyone to allow quick access to anything accessible by a URL. This means we can now use them to drive potential customers to our online art portfolios, or even specific artwork, blog postings, or anything else  without worrying about spelling errors or mistyping of long web addresses.

How does it all work?

The first thing that anyone needs to be able to use a QR code is a smartphone with a camera and access to the internet. The next thing to do is to download an app that can read QR codes and then you are ready to start your journey. There are many QR code readers available for iOS and android users, some free (usually with a few, fairly unobtrusive adverts) and others that cost a few bucks. Just search your app store for “QR reader” and see what’s available.

Once you have this installed all you have to do is start the app, line the camera up with any QR code you find, and let the camera focus on it. You don’t even have to press the shutter button as the phone will do the rest for you. As soon as the app recognizes the QR code it will use your web browser to open up the page to which the QR code has sent it, and you can view the site.  It really is that quick and easy!

How to generate a QR code

It shouldn’t take you long to realize the potential for this as a marketing tool for your artwork. This little black and white square offers a foolproof way for people to quickly locate any page you want from their phone. All you have to do is generate your code and use it somewhere where others can find it.

Again, the web comes to our rescue, and a simple search for “QR code generator” will provide you with a wealth of choices. I use the google generator app so I will explain how this works, although other generators are very similar.

Go to the web page, and in the URL box type the web address where you want the QR code to point. This could be your artist site, personal site, even a specific gallery or image web address (just copy and paste from the address bar of your own site). You will see a QR code instantly generated for you by the software. You can even check the image now by pointing your QR scanner-equipped smartphone at your computer screen to see it work instantly!  Next, you save this code to your computer, usually as a PNG file for later use. With google you can also choose how big you want the image to be and also if you want margins (white space). It’s all personal choice and depends on what you want to do with it.

How to use a QR code

Now you have your personal QR code downloaded onto your computer – what next? Well, as a PNG file you can load it into your image processing software, word processor, or any other application that will accept an image. How you want to use this is really up to your own creativity.

QR Pointillism - Big Ben I

I started off by printing it on cards and stickers to put on the back of my photographs and exhibition entries, along with my printed name and web address. Then I progressed to a self-inking stamp from VistaPrint (since this QR code can be uploaded as a logo) for a more professional look. By experimenting I found that the color of the image really has no effect on its usability so I have also created a few abstract images based on my QR code for my art gallery. Finally, I like to include it in any written work I do too. I have even defined this as one of my brushes in GIMP so I can include it in it any image I want as a watermark or overlay.

The bottom line is that QR codes can be interesting abstract images in themselves and can be used in any way you want knowing that every appearance is a subtle advertisement for your work!

If you are prepared to invest a relatively short amount of time learning how to use QR codes and a little more time thinking about how you can use them creatively. You could find them an inexpensive way of driving a few more potential customers to your online galleries.


A Story – The Steampunk Moonlander

This is a rare find indeed! Discovered recently in a box of ephemera left as part of an eccentric recluse’s estate in Wensleydale, England, this is thought to be one of the fabled photographs that captured the largely apocryphal adventures of her forebear, Theophilus Carter.

Although Theophilus ostensibly made his living as a cabinet maker in Victorian Oxford, he was also of sufficient means to indulge his passion as an enthusiastic inventor. His initial setbacks with his more modest invention, the Alarm Clock Bed, first shown publicly at the Great Exhibition in 1851 met with such muted response that he was forced to continue his future activities hidden from public scrutiny through fear of criticism. In fact, such was his modesty that little is known of his later development of the steam space engine and his subsequent solo return trip to the moon in 1898.

He was blessed with sufficient foresight, however to carry photographic equipment with him on this adventure and I am pleased to be able to share with the public at large this remarkable image of the lunar surface, with waxing Earth and “The Brunel” rocket in the foreground.


© Richard Reeve

Reinterpreting Public Domain Images

The recent announcement by The New York Public Library (NYPL) that it is to share more of its public domain (PD) images with the public has prompted this short entry on PD images and their use. PD images are, as the description suggests, images that have no copyright attached to them and are therefore “free” to be used by the public in any means, including commercial reselling or reworking. Images may have never been copyrighted, the copyright may have expired (not renewed) or they were donated into the public domain.

Despite the NYPL’s recent announcement the largest source of easily available PD work, to my knowledge, remains the US Library of Congress (LOC) with over one million searchable items arranged in collections, out of a total of 15 million items. This provides a fascinating source of information, not only for the historian, but also for the artist to use either directly or as inspiration.

Like many others, I have used PD images in several works on my art site. I find the LOC site easy to navigate and almost addictive as I search through items. Not everything that can be viewed on screen is always downloadable, but often times large .jpegs are available and even very high quality .tiff files, which allows for some excellent artistic opportunities.

Generally speaking I don’t like to simply use the image “as is” but a quick google reverse image search shows that many people do just that, as they are legally allowed to. Instead I prefer to work on the image to some degree.This may mean just “cleaning up” the work, by removing scratches, dust and watermarks, and other artifacts, or it could be recovering details lost in the original, such as with this 19th century poster from the age of ballooning:


Other approaches I take may include selectively recoloring the image to add emphasis to an aspect of a photograph. Many people colorize PD images with varying degrees of artistic interpretation, often over doing it, in my opinion. I prefer a subtle color application, as as I have achieved with this photograph of Santa Claus but, as with all art, it’s really a matter of personal preference.


Finally, there is an opportunity to create a completely new artistic interpretation by blending imagery together to tell a new story. By way of example, I used the famous LOC image of an aging Geronimo together with four other photographs taken from his era and just thereafter to create this unique composite image to show how much America changed during the lifetime of one of its indigenous people:


Note that by creating a completely new artwork, involving significant artistic interpretation and work the resulting image is no longer in the public domain and is now copyrighted by the artist (that’s me, folks).

Even if you don’t get as hooked on this source of history and art as I have done, it a least provides a fascinating way to see images of bygone days whilst browsing the library catalogs from your laptop.


Graphic Art – Gursky Redux

This is a digital pastel image created on a blank canvas and inspired by the most expensive photograph in the world, Rhein II by Andreas Gursky. It fascinates me that Mr. Gursky’s photoshopped image was able to command such a staggering sale price and my digital composition pays homage to his great skill. I am indebted to my wife, Michelle, for aiding me with pastel technique and allowing me to bridge the real and digital worlds to create a digital pastel image from scratch using the free image software, GIMP.


Background to the original work

Rhein II is a photographic image created by German visual artist Andreas Gursky in 1999. In 2011, a print was auctioned for $4.3 million, making it the most expensive photograph ever sold. (Although Peter Lik has reportedly sold an image entitled “Phantom” for $6.5 million in December 2014 this sale has not yet been verified).

The photograph was produced as part of a series of six depicting the River Rhine. In this image, of the second of the series, the Rhine flows horizontally across the field of view, between green fields, under an overcast sky.

Gursky digitally manipulated the original photograph to remove passersby and a factory building stating that “Paradoxically, this view of the Rhine cannot be obtained in situ, a fictitious construction was required to provide an accurate image of a modern river.” Gursky produced a very large chromogenic colour print of the photograph, mounted it onto acrylic glass, and then placed it in a frame. The image itself measures 73 by 143 inches (190 cm x 360 cm).

The print was originally acquired by the Galerie Monika Sprueth in Cologne, and subsequently bought by an anonymous German collector. The collector sold the print by auction at Christie’s New York on 8 November 2011, for $4,338,500 to an anonymous buyer.

The work has been described by arts writer Florence Waters in The Daily Telegraph as a “vibrant, beautiful and memorable – I should say unforgettable – contemporary twist on […] the romantic landscape” and by journalist Maev Kennedy in The Guardian as “a sludgy image of the grey Rhine under grey skies”.

Either way I thought it would be ironic to create a digital painting of this photograph in a retro-homage to this great artwork.


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