My weblog ELECTRON BLUE, which concentrated on science and mathematics, ran from 2004-2008. It is no longer being updated. My current blog, which is more art-related, is here.

Wed, 13 Oct, 2004

Mathematical Art in Blue and Orange

Since I have been doing work with Logarithms recently, I decided to do some art with a logarithmic spiral in it. The all-providing Web gave me excellent information on it at WolframResearch's Mathworld which is an online encyclopedia of everything mathematical. I used the spiral depicted on the Wolfram page as my model. I admit that I am not entirely clear on exactly how the spiral is generated, but it has to do with natural logarithms and the exponentiation of the famous e.

Some non-artistic types wonder at how art is created, and they think that "creativity" and "artistic" activity is something inspired and mystical and special. I think that way about science. Aren't scientists, especially physicists, in touch with the Secrets of the Universe revealed through experiments and mathematics? Art is really much more mundane. Here's how I created my logarithmic spiral painting. Y'see, I had two little jars of really old paint, so old that there wasn't much left in them, and what was left was just about to dry up. So it was either use it in a painting or throw it out. One of my jars contained a tablespoonful or so of brilliant orange, the other had a metallic blue similar to the now-famous "Electron Blue" of my car and the R.E.M. song.

I like the combination of blue and orange. This has nothing to do with any school colors nor with the city of New York, whose heraldic colors are blue and orange. These two colors are complementary colors, which means that they are across from each other on the color wheel. Putting them in combination, as the aforementioned website suggests, makes each look brighter and more intense, and also sets up a kind of vibration in your eyes when you look at it. I know that all of this could have been done much more quickly digitally, and in fact I did the preliminary sketch for it on the computer, using CorelDraw. But I still believe in good old hand-done paintings, irregular and imperfect as they are. What doesn't show up on the Web-based image here is that I used some silver glitter paint to add sparkle to the line of the logarithmic spiral.

So I succeeded in using up as much of these leftover colors as I could, in the simplest design that would convey what I wanted. (What? No wild proliferation of fantastic deee-tails? Am I lazy or in a hurry?) I took the Cartesian coordinate cross, an exponential curve, and the logarithmic spiral, along with one more supporting line, and came up with the picture you see. Math purists will note that the exponential curve goes through the origin rather than (0,1) which is wrong, but I'm claiming artistic license here. Also, the logarithmic spiral isn't quite "regular," since I squished it a little to fit into the rectangular shape.

So much for inspiration and creativity. Now I can in good conscience discard the congealed remains of those jars of paint, and get back to reviewing arithmetic and geometric progressions.

Posted at 1:59 am | link


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