Author: Aiii

9/11: Twenty Years Later

9/11: Twenty Years Later

My recollections on this day are not unique or special in any way. My viewpoint of it in real time was far removed from those in it, those who were impacted directly by it, whether by death, injury, survival, by being a bystander just caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, or as someone who lost someone they loved, cared about, or knew, or someone who helped in the thick of it; or one of those who helped in the aftermath. Theirs are the stories that should be heard.

Mine will be truncated. I lived in Chicago at the time, with a loved one working downtown, whose life and safety was in question as I tried in vain to contact while phone lines were jammed…but I lost no one; Chicago and many other major cities were spared after fearing the worst: how many more? When will this end? Where will someone strike next?

As a nation, we were shaken to the core. This doesn’t happen here.

Thousands of stories were revealed in the hours, days, weeks months and years that followed. They began to be increasingly inspiring, miraculous, encouraging in the midst of great tragedy that also unfolded chapter by chapter. We began to witness the kinship that a nation in tragedy feels for each other: the neighbors helping neighbors, strangers helping strangers. In the places most affected, these accounts were so unprecedented in my own lifetime. I remembered my parents recounting how almost everyone in the nation worked together “for our boys” during WWII when they were kids, and I wondered if this was going to be like that was.

The human goodwill was infectious to other parts of the country. It seemed everyone had less than six degrees of separation from it. And we could relate to each other like humans should…for a while.

In the twenty years since, we as a nation, with exceptions of course, seem to have lost our gratitude, our empathy, our priorities, and our civility. We have largely lost our unity. Much of it was from political polarization and I’m not taking sides because I will not affiliate with any party; I feel none is worthy. Many other nations of the world shakes their heads at our hypocrisy. We are more divided than ever.

Many of us have forgotten. And will again. We need to be reminded.

Perhaps all of the memorials and remembrances today on the media are viewed by a few as overly sentimental, trite, obligatory, even propagandist. I do not. At any rate, I try to take something good out of anything and if possible, at the very least, a lesson or three.

I’m not astute enough to work in government. I cannot draft deft policy. I cannot change the world. But I can choose to check my own attitude, to not be misled or decide without due diligence, to not grow complacent and jaded, to be mindful of Who or what I come to worship and make corrections as necessary.

And if my view seems dark for a self-professed Christian, keep in mind two things: I am yet a fledgling in this walk, and all Christians are fallible and exist in the dichotomy of trying to transcend human imperfection while very much still shackled to it in this life. My eyes are open.

I’m just an artist. I can just make images, songs, poems, pleas for others to do the same daily fresh-slate commitment to reprioritize, to care, to love more, to make the most of life in the areas that count. But we as a species are easily distracted. Myopic beings that we are, it is astonishing how difficult it is to focus on what’s truly important. Don’t give up. Recommit. Recommit. Every day, recommit.

We need reminding.

Never forget.









All content © 2021 L. Eilee S. George, all rights reserved.

Storytelling Art

Storytelling Art

A long time ago, a nine year-old Eilee began her path as a wordsmith, publishing a poem in the school paper. Hundreds of poems and stories later, she’s only just now beginning to consider publishing in earnest.

Baby steps for now: I thought I’d apply my obsessions together–to write fanciful (yet true) stories about my paintings. Every painting has a tale to tell, and at long last, I’ve given them a “voice”. I don’t know how many folks are lounging about on the site looking for stories, but these narratives will really let you in on the essence of the work in a way that dry statistics can never do. See these vignettes here – just scroll down past the main gallery to the “backup” gallery (it’s the only one with real descriptions, and is also past the list of “sold” work titles).


– Eilee


Some Notes on Copyright

Some Notes on Copyright

Copyright is a topic that has become, sadly, rather polarizing in the digital age where people feel increasingly, and erroneously, entitled to take whatever they want and ignore who that may hurt or the fact that it’s wrong. The truth is, that copyright serves a very good purpose, for all of society.

People who are creative possess skills and produce contents, whether visual, audio, or experiential, that are considered a commodity. Commodities are marketable things that have value within a society; therefore, they have intrinsic value on a monetary scale, depending on the scarcity and quality of the output. This is not unlike commodities within the stock world, such as metals, grains, and other goods deemed necessary for human consumption.

Now on the surface, some people would consider art, music, writing, drama, et al to not be “necessary”, and as Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs” goes, it is not at the basic foundation of need. But whom among us would consider living without these things as “living”, rather than as merely existing? What if all chairs looked and felt the same to everyone, and were for many unattractive and uncomfortable? What if all walls were bare, all buildings the same; what if we had no music and no books to read? Is that a world you want to live in? In this context, the value of these “luxuries” goes up exponentially, as they are expression of humanness itself. Even the poorest tribes with the most simple of structures, since our species hit the earth, found art and music a necessity of human function: a vehicle by which to say, “I am here; this is my life; here my noise and see my story.” This is built into us. It is a “need”.

Through time as humans developed skill and complexity in the various arts, their output began to be coveted; time of the creators was being demanded and that time is worth sponsorship–money, other living expenses, patronage in any of its forms–in order to help the artist to survive and to afford the tools with which to create the art, regardless of the form of art. The equipment is not free; nor should the art be. Artists must eat and pay bills just as much as anyone else. This is the area of their skill. The skill has been studied and honed for many years, as is by others in other sectors. The skill is desired and requires both time and money to produce beforehand. Therefore, it must be compensated, or it cannot exist.

Painters, actors, musicians, writers, dancers, sculptors, opera singers, poets and the like are people just like you who worked hard to learn their craft and deserve to be paid for it, who offer a commodity others want and should therefore receive compensation – people who have mortgages and kids and have to do things like purchase supplies for their creative endeavors and pay for utilities and, you know, eat.

Nobody expects plumbers or lawyers to do “spec work”. It is beyond insulting to expect a creative to do freebies “because they love it” or “because it’s so fun”. It is no less work. It is no less effort. Anyone who thinks that their own job is so much more toil and struggle is likely in the wrong job, and that is not the creative’s fault. It is not a cake walk. It often involves hazardous materials, an inconsistent income with no health insurance, constantly fluctuating markets, a decreasing appreciation in our society for the arts despite the documentation of each culture through history, the training of higher thinking skills…I could go on and on.

Copyright is there to protect the creative worker from those who would steal profits from their work (and food from their table) by misappropriating it. It is not wrong for anyone to expect to be paid for his or her own work. It is wrong for anyone else to steal it.

The moment a creator creates, he or she owns that creation solely–even if they don’t register it. It is a natural right. Copyright registration is an added layer of protection for those at risk of being stolen from, in that it proves that by a given date, this work was created by this person. It is the evidence that someone can be taken to court for using that work without permission, or for claiming wrongfully that it is theirs instead of belonging to its creator.

Merely posting a work online does NOT make it “public domain”. It merely makes it publicly viewable/listenable, but that work is still the property of that copyright holder (again: registered or not). Buying a CD does not carry with it the composer/musician’s copyright; that is why it is only for personal use, not playing commercially in a business and that is why we have things like ASCAP and the MMA and the rest of the transitional mess we are currently in as politicians try to simplify rights. Buying a painting does not carry with it the painter’s copyright either. The purchaser never has the right to reproduce the work whether for a gift or for sale. That is strictly the right of the artist through the artist’s lifetime plus 75 years after the artist’s death for the artist’s heirs. That is copyright law. It doesn’t just control resale of copies or unauthorized public performance or exhibition; it also establishes that the creator also has sole right to embellish, alter, do derivative works or destroy the work–anyone else who does any of that without having bought all of those rights (as well as buying the work) is in violation of federal law, and in some cases, international copyright law too.

The only three things that would be an exception to that are:

  1. You do a “work for hire” (you are under the employ of a corporation who pays you to create for them, and that’s already in your contract that you agreed to before taking on the gig), OR
  2. You actually sell the rights along with the work (say for instance, a songwriter who got duped by a recording company, as happened for decades but is less likely now as musicians are educating themselves and each other against predators).
  3. You purposely, yourself, put it on a rights- free status (for which there should be documentation surrendering all rights or specifying which rights you surrender).

Simply buying a book doesn’t give the purchaser the right to make copies and sell them. The copyright belongs with the writer (and depending on his or her contract with a publishing company, with the publishing company on their behalf, again, another area where the artist needs to beware and make sure they’re with a reputable entity).

If artists never got the money coming to them for their output, they would cease being able to afford to put anything out.

Sure there are those trust-fund kids and bored kept spouses who are sponsored by personal connections in their craft, but in a pay-to-play world, the talent pool is awfully crowded, shallow and altogether infested with ickiness.

This brings me to an aside on “contests” and vanity (insert area here: presses, galleries, publishers, etc.) that prey on those with more dollars that sense (or talent), and bring down the market rate for all legitimate artists. DON’T DO IT. Everyone who falls for these predatory tactics hurts the entire group. Some of us are trained, skilled, and trying to make a living, and not just armchair weekend hobbyists. By watering down the inventory with substandard work, you actually make our culture in our time look bad to future generations. Stop it. And such purveyors of “contests” that “let you show” your own work “in your portfolio” (hello, you don’t need permission from anyone to do that!) are predators who want to amass tons of free work, screwing a bunch of wannabes to get something for nothing (= a “chance” at a bogus prize) that they will sell later without compensating or crediting you. Giving even perceived legitimacy to these things by participating, collectively hurts all art everywhere. Anyone that tells you they have to SELL you “wall space” isn’t into selling your work at all. Legitimate commercial galleries make money off of the people who BUY the art – NOT off the people who make it and who already spent the time and money to make it!!! If artists pay galleries to show their work, there is no incentive for the gallery to ever sell it: they already got their profit off of YOU.

I can imagine that this new Non-Fungible Token trend is ripe for the same type of victimization as people figure out how to do it; it is new and hot and there’s a lot of buzz and lots of big “cash” being thrown about (particularly for those who can name-drop already, just like it was in the old-school art game; don’t be fooled). “Buyer beware” is an old adage but to be honest, it’s much more of a thing, especially today, to remember: “Creator beware”.

A few insane sales prices notwithstanding, the market cannot sustain these prices; there are only so many players that can trade on that echelon, and the newness will wear off and folk today have famously short attention spans. I am looking into possibly dipping my toe into this income stream but I am not planning on quitting my day job. I don’t expect it to last, or be the answer for most who try it; nothing ever is. You only ever hear news of the extremes.

I will learn more about how copyright is treated in this NFT market; “ownership” is a term slung around in a way that lacks clarity from my research so far.

Artists should not be proponents of copyright only to protect their own artwork. They should want to protect their entire industry.

I was offered  a great deal of money to rip off another artist’s style more than a few times. Every time I turned it down. As a website designer, I had clients try to get me to steal pictures off of the net to use on their websites after I made them sign a contract that this would not happen! I even had one try to pass something off as her own photograph. I can check that against image search online. She stole it from a bakery in Canada. I fired her. That is how strongly I believe in protecting ALL copyright. I will not artistically cannibalize or steal or betray people like that. Nobody should. We’re adults who should have honor and accountability; many children know better than to try to pull off that kind of rot. If you don’t want to be a victim of wage theft, don’t do it to others. If you do want that…well, get some therapy.

In the long run, regardless if IRL or digital art, copyright protects the earned, deserved and good and right credit and income for the creator of anything. They are the only ones who should have it. Anyone calling themselves an artist should be producers of original material. Anyone doing anything else is already known by another set of titles: thief, opportunist, conman, morally bankrupt, and defendant.

Here is my official statement on this topic:

I do not, and will not, forge the work of any other artist, living or dead, for any commercial or other purpose (other than personal self-education in practicing, as art students do, using masterpieces as a teaching tool). Please do not ask artists to forge other artists’ (particularly living or recently passed artists’) work; copyright infringement and forgery are unethical and in most cases highly illegal on a felony level. I have been repeatedly offered crazy amounts of money to do this simply because I have the skill, and I always turn it down; I don’t care if “nobody will know” – I will know; God will know; it’s taking food off of someone else’s table. No. I do not cannibalize my own, nor would any reputable artist. If you like the work of a certain artist, please invest directly into their continued practice if living, or purchase versions of their legacy at the licensed gallery or museum of your choice in order to promote arts education. Thank you so much for your cooperation and understanding. .

I have far more to say on this and related subjects, but I wish to devote more time to it than I currently have. It will likely involve more of the mechanics of copyright filings as well as actual quotes from the law. But you know I’ll throw some editorializing in there somehow. Thanks for reading.


 – Eilee


All content on this site, unless otherwise noted, are © 2012-2021-present Linda Eilee S. George, All Rights Reserved.

Site Redesign

Site Redesign

The year 2020 has been one of incredible disruption and adaptation. It has been an opportunity to grow, although not everyone was up to the challenge, but many were compelled to be and are better, in ways, for it. The phrase “new normal” is already tired, but nonetheless appropriate. We are weary, but we trudge onward. We are a flexible species and we shall survive. Yes, we need to breathe and work through some mental health moments now and then, but that was always life. We’ve learned to do that and that we can best cope by keeping ourselves productive.

Throughout the year I have been creating little components of media, with which to ultimately redesign this site, and at long last, December has been the month to implement it all. has a new, more responsive and modern theme as its substructure – but in keeping with my styles of art, music, and writing, it has only emphasized the vintage look, sound and feel that are so integral to my output and my brand.

I’ve taken pains to create and include relevant animated banners to each section, and I made pertinent animated GIF files to adorn each page (posts mostly excluded) for a cheeky bit of fun. I’ve constructed a flowchart-icon style Site Map, that is separately referenced (in part) on most pages of the site as necessary, and left breadcrumbs all over, in order to keep you aware of where you were, are, and can be. As some of the old pages have moved or been retitled, it’s necessitated some housekeeping: I’ve double-checked most of the links so far, but if you find any that I missed, please email me here! (And thank you ahead of time.)

Fun facts about many of these icons…most of the antique items are in my own home, and a few others still at my parents’ home. Mine now include the record player (my Dad’s, from the 40’s when he was wooing my Mom back in school), Dad’s old Chicago phone, 8mm camera, film projector, the Model A he restored, and the radio that he listened live to FDR’s “Day of Infamy” speech as a little kid. The piano is still at Mom’s; she played on it; she taught on it; I learned on it. The typewriter is the one I learned to type on; the palette is the one I use (the other side of it is quite stained); the cash register is a vintage toy from my own childhood, the uke mine, the paint and pencils and Brownie camera are all mine. This reinforces the homey feel of the site.

I have loads of old books and frames and artist mannequins, and since I taught myself to do calligraphy in about 7th grade, the quill and inkwell are also mine. And the house on the Home page is actually that of my grandparents. There’s a lot of personal history worked into these (usually merely utilitarian) elements. Despite the fact that I need this site to do its job and encourage commerce in a year that’s been unprecedented for its hostility to any income in the arts, I wanted the entire site to feel like home: familiar, comfy, welcoming. It has a story. Not just my story, but my whole family’s story, as they are part of me. Welcome.

I hope that you find this new iteration of the site as stimulating, informative, warm, almost-analog-homey, and visually lovely as I hope it to be for my visitors. Thank you for browsing.


 – Eilee

A Little Poetry

A Little Poetry

I was about to post this to Twitter after working on it off and on today. I kept adding thoughts to it, so it became sort of a suite, if not stanzas, which are most irregular for this form (rules, schmalz), but feel free to read each as an autonomous unit. I’ve written poetry since I was about nine (and started winning contests right away). So much of my poetry of late has been channeled into songs instead of pure poetry; it’s nice to get back into the practice – like a hug from an old friend. This is a little out of my normal style, but what can I say; I felt called. So here’s some haiku for you, brought on by a few current and converging phenomena:

4-stanza haiku written by L. Eilee S. George 9 April 2020 combining themes of a pink supermoon, a deadly pandemic, and recovering from a parallel illness and reuniting with her husband

Digital Photos: Organize Inventory

Digital Photos: Organize Inventory

DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY: How to Organize Your Inventory

Organizing digital photos isn’t necessarily fun, but if you’ve any volume of them, it’s necessary.

If you’re anything like me with a digital camera, you take a lot of pictures hoping for that one really good one or few, in each batch. In the interim, there are lots of keepers, and for one reason or other you might want to find them again. The more photos you take, the more desperately you will need to stay on top of organizing them when you first file them away in your computer, or it will mushroom on you. Organizing digital photos is part of what the graphic design industry terms “digital asset management”, although it involves more than that, but organization is key.

This post is about photos from digital cameras being stored on a laptop or other PC. Trying to organize photos on a phone or tablet device is different as they are not quite as user-friendly (or dumb it down to do it for you assuming you never want to edit them and make them very difficult to access for that purpose), and are best to be figured out on forums or tutorials specific to your device.

My system probably isn’t the best, but it works for me, and you have to be flexible and alert to your own particular needs, but I have a base that is scalable for just about anyone.

Number one thing, to house your photos in an area separate from all the other guck on your PC, create a folder called Photography. That’s level One. You’re going to make many more, but they all go in there. If you also use and store stock photography from online that you’ve purchased, by all means, make a MyPhotography folder instead, or in addition, in order to differentiate.

Digital cameras typically assign file names and sequential numbers to their photos, and sometimes put them in folders that are numbered, before you ever copy them to your computer. However, those names don’t describe what’s in them, and what those folders contain are not necessarily all the same kinds of photos (you may have taken photos of your kid’s play, that car part you need replaced, and a bunch of other unrelated stuff, all within one folder, because they are often by date and we rarely have days where only one thing happens). So those need to be in separate folders to find them again. The good news is that you are not bound to the organization that these relatively useless camera-generated file and folder names impose on you. There’s nothing really relevant and meaningful in those names and that arrangement; they’re mere placeholders, and you will forget where certain pictures are, wandering about in a bunch of odd numbers. If you haven’t already, figure out how to rename files on your computer (sometimes just clicking or right-clicking will lead you to the option). Sometimes I leave a tad of the original folder number or filename, in case I forget what I had already uploaded by the time I grab more off of a large photo disk (I don’t like to delete old folders off of photo disks before I’ve backed up my laptop).


Organizing Process

When I’ve just uploaded a disk to my laptop, right away I sort through the pictures to identify what categories they are, and rename the folders accordingly, and create/name new ones and move appropriate photos to them, to accurately reflect what photos are in each folder. Do it as you go, because if you let it pile up and you’re a prolific photographer, amateur or not, it will snowball on you!! Often I include, in the new name, a truncated notation of the year and month, as well as an abbreviated hint as to the folder contents. Now, all individual photos don’t get renamed unless they’re really good ones – you could waste a lot of time doing this for every single photo, but every single one won’t be worthy: …oops, took a picture of your feet by accident between photos of the kids playing ball. Well, you should actually delete that one; save space on your drive for good ones. On my Mac I view whole folders at a time in icon view, bumping up the size of the thumbnails so I can get a real feel for the composition. From there I can add an “a” to the front of the filename of each individual image I find that is exceptional, so they all go to the top together, making it easier to rename those special few when I’m ready, but more on that later. Big picture now.

You can use this reference screen grab illustrating some of the organization I will be describing, for you visual learners:

If you prefer something of a flowchart, a simplified version of it might go a bit like this:

On with it.


Folder Hierarchies

Still, at first I had a lot of subcategories and not a lot of top-level organization. So I created, under the Photography folder, three Level 2 folders to sort things into: People, Places, and Things. Most photos fall into one of those categories. You could make more if needed (I did)  but hear me out. Now, it’s probably not an exaggeration for me to say that I have over a million photos on my 2TB laptop drive. Insane, right? Okay; I own it. I have my own version of photo stock for my web clients’ sites, my graphic design, painting, music promoting and book writing resources, so it suits me. I’m also something of a family archivist. Obviously, with SO much going on there, the top three categories aren’t going to be enough to corral so much content, and retrieve what I want effectively. So under People (Level 2), I have folders with names of groups of people I know, and then under that, individuals within that group; then folders within those folders of different events with each of those people. For example, on the level under PeopleI have folders like Family, Friends, In-laws, Church, etc. – these represent Level 3. You can add what is relevant to you, like: CarClubSoccerTeamWorkmates, or whatever else. Then on the next Level (4), say in the Family folder, I can list individual names like Mom, Dad, etc. Now, if it’s more than one person (which it often is), and a grouping that occurs a lot, I make bilaterally located combo folders (also Level 4), like MomNDad or NuclearFamily or GeorgiaCousins. You personalize it how it works for you of course. If there’s too much overlap, and you can’t decide between two equally appropriate locations, you can always commit to one, and in the second, make an alias or shortcut to the first folder, so you can find the photos in either place; cross referencing takes a little time on the front end but months later you’ll have saved hours trying to figure out where things are. Now, you can have another Level (5) under, for example, NuclearFamily, and have events like birthday parties and family togetherness. An example of a Level 5 sub-folder name would be 1988DadBdayLake, which right away tells you who and what event are featured, and when and where. With a name like that, I can later search file names based on any part of that folder name and find it and others like it quickly.


File Naming and Keywords

Now, say there’s a favorite photo in that little sub-folder that you really want to be able to recall. If the camera named it “IMG_3878.jpg”, that’s useless to you. You know it’s an image, and 3878 means nothing. Being sure to retain the extension, you could name it “DadCatSleepLap.jpg” and stand much better odds of finding it when you want it in a jiffy. I normally retain the 3878 part, discarding what’s before it because it’s the same for everything, but if I Photoshop multiple versions and place them in different places I can search for all of their locations at once, fast. Also, the cuteness of Dad sleeping with the cat asleep in his lap may have warranted more than one photo, and that number is conveniently already there, making that unique.

Going back to Level 2, if you recall, I had PeoplePlaces, and Things. Under the Places folder are sub-folders Colorado (where I happen to live and therefore take the lion’s share of photos), and EverywhereElse, where I put my traveling photos and visits to out-of-town family. Yes, there are overlaps between that and People, and I make aliases to navigate between these areas as a cross-reference. Hey, if bothering to do it at all, do it right.


How to make an Alias/Shortcut between folders:

On a Mac you make an alias by right-clicking on the folder you want to refer to, and choosing “Make Alias” from the pop-up menu that results; on a Windows machine it used to be about the same thing except it was called a Shortcut. I haven’t used a Windows PC regularly since Windows XP, so it could have changed, but try right-clicking to see what shows up. After you’ve created the Alias or Shortcut, you have to drag and drop it into the new location that you want to connect to it from, while leaving the original folder in its original location.



Separate the Good from the Mediocre

Sometimes I have lots of good pictures in a folder and don’t have the time to think of how to rename them all just yet, and just so I have them handy together to rename, I will simply change their filename by retaining all of the original name but putting the letter “a” in front of it, like this: “aIMG_3878.jpg” (that filename less the “a” being the default naming pattern by my Canon). Since the computer automatically lists photos in alphabetical order, all my favorites in that folder are now at the top of the list column, easy to find. Sometimes that’s enough, but it’s no help in searches from outside of that folder. If your filenames are numeric at the start; numbers will be above letters, so using a zero instead of “a” in front might behoove you better.

There are renaming applications and other programs you can use to facilitate this. Adobe Bridge gives you the ability to put the same metadata on a group of files as well as a renaming prefix that you designate. If you’re just renaming a few things this isn’t really necessary, but for bulk renaming these are great tools.

But this post isn’t how to use those programs. It’s about how to name things so you can find them and how to arrange your folders of information in a manner that’s logical to navigate.

Now, back to Places. You may have an EverywhereElse folder too, if it’s useful to you. If you travel both domestically and abroad, I’d then make Level 4 sub-folders of those. Then you can separate by country or state on Level 5 – whichever is appropriate for the place. After that you can separate by city, specific location, and/or date (and abbreviated detail) on Level 6, especially in cases of places you’ve gone to multiple times. Note that you may not need the same number of levels in different categories. Your Level 5 might not be a folder but be actual photos in a particular area, where a Level 6 doesn’t even exist there. That’s okay; this system scales up and down to all needs.


Filename Abbreviation Codes

I take tons of nature photos for paintings. Since I have so very much content on my laptop, and since I’m a tad obsessive-compulsive, I’ve developed a consistent abbreviated nomenclature in my filenames that uses partial keywords that I can search, in order to find all of the photos in that category. Let’s say I took a photo on Mount Evans that has mountains in the background, forest and a stream in the mid-ground, and a flower in the foreground. The camera-assigned filename we’ll say was originally “IMG_7211.jpg”. The new filename would include MtEv for Mount Evans, Mtn for mountains, 4st for forest (or Tr3 for tree if one is dominant), H2o for a water feature, and Flr for floral. It was originally from 306CANON folder, and was taken in May of 2014. All the photos in that folder would be in a folder renamed “306c14MaMtEv”and the file would be renamed “MtEvMtn4stH2oFlr211.jpg”. The 211 is retained because I may have taken 20 pictures within that folder that have those same features in different configurations, and they can’t all have the same exact filename. The folder name retains the 306 because I may have gone to Mount Evans 3 times in the same month and I’m remembering visit number two. The “c” (from CANON) after the 306 is just there to separate it from another number: the 14 representing the year. Note that in my ‘feature’ abbreviations, each starts with a capital letter and ends in a lower-case letter or number (e.g., Mtn, Tr3, H2o). This makes it easier to distinguish between each abbreviation when looking at the file name as a whole. I try to keep each to three characters but sometimes four are necessary to discern what the abbreviation stands for as opposed to another one. I do keep a cheat sheet of abbreviations to refer to in case I forget or develop a new one, so I always use the same one consistently.

The reason I do this is: if I need, or a client requests a photo for their web site or a painting, that has this or that feature, I can use the search feature on my laptop to key in these consistently-applied abbreviations, and quickly have displayed for me every filename on my entire computer that I’ve renamed that includes those abbreviations, without the litter of unrelated files hiding them. If someone wants something with mountains and water I can search H2o and get all the ones with water and easily focus on those that also have mountains by looking through the search results for ones that also contain Mtn. Just about on the spot I can see or show a client a bunch of thumbnails of relevant images.

You very well may not need that much detail, but it’s nice to know it’s possible if you ever DO need it.

Again, here’s that screen grab illustrating some of the organization I’ve described above:

And the (simplified) flowchart:

And so on and so forth; you know there’s more.

Of course you would add more to and under that, but this is a general illustration. For instance, under Painting one might want subfolders entitled Still Life, Portrait, Landscape, Abstract, etc. Under that level on Level 6 I arrange things like individual work by title, and even progress photos while making each work – usually for more complex things like paintings, sculptures and furniture designs – not so much for drawings. As I’ve said, you will need to tailor this method to your own priorities and content. You also may have to create some temporary sorting folders while you’re in the process of organizing things. Be patient with yourself; you’ll get there, step by step.

Sometimes organizing large amounts of data is daunting, but if you stop and think about how it is identified, that is truly the key to organizing it by category.

Some other abbreviated nomenclature that I use for filenames are: Nat for nature, Aml for animals, Txr for textured background shots (like for wallpapers), Cld for clouds, Cty for city shots, Rok for cliffs, bluffs or large rock formations that are dominant, Rd for roadways, Sno for winter shots, Roz for roses (since a lot of my flower shots are roses; we have quite a few growing in our yard), Bld for buildings (architecture), Brk for bricks, Brj for Bridges, Aut for fall scenes, Spg for spring and Smr for summer, Brd for birds, D3r for deer, B3r for bear (yes we see them occasionally), and so on…. With generally 2-3 letters, you must choose so that it doesn’t look like another word, so choose wisely. Windows machines, as I recall, are fussier than Macs with file/folder name lengths, so this is where the extreme abbreviating comes in (and why I don’t use spaces). Years only need be 2 digits. Months I abbreviate with 2 letters: Ja Fb Mr Ap My Je Jl Ag Sp Oc Nv Dc. You could easily mix up the J months – but note that the second letter is one that no other J month possesses in its full name. Sometimes I’ll even note a dominant color in a photo if there is one, especially floral shots: Rd, Ylo, Blu, Grn, etc. because some clients will choose things based on color, whether it is to go with their logo or their bedroom curtains.

Obviously you can pick and choose from these methods for what you actually can use. I just wanted to present as many examples as I have found useful.

I hope that with your dedication, your photos become more organized than this post! Photos are great when you can find them. Happy shutterbugging.


– Eilee





All content on this site © 2013-2020/present L. Eilee S. George, all rights reserved.

How to Keep Sanity When You’re Laid Up for Weeks

How to Keep Sanity When You’re Laid Up for Weeks

…or Months

You may have noticed I haven’t been updating my calendar lately.  : /

I haven’t been doing much lately. It’s far time I explain myself, for those who wonder if I fell off the planet. It wasn’t that extreme. I was in a pile-up on the Interstate a couple months back. I’m still under medical visits and physical therapy. Among my injuries are numerous back and neck traumas including ribs that had been separated from my spine, whiplash, a jammed hip and a dislocated knee. I’m hobbling quite ungracefully. Now I’m also sick with Flu B during the coronavirus pandemic and in limbo for a permanent crown after a root canal. But I’ve been a songwriting and web design enhancing machine. Now if only I could get well enough to earn some coin to afford to file copyright for all of these new tunes…well, I do have irons in the fire. And I achingly miss performing, but am having an awful time getting up onto certain stages for lack of good access (not to mention venues rightfully closing for quarantine).

At least it’s temporary, and I’m always able to keep myself busy in the meantime. Mind you, all this followed two months of another nasty flu, which I got in late summer or early fall, before I had a chance to get a flu shot. I did get better from that. And I got the shot as soon as I safely could. But it can’t cover every strain… 🙁

So…now I have time…that’s a gift. Who knows; I may post more. Also, I have a lead on a couple of website commissions I have the ability to work on in this condition…that’s a gift too, but they haven’t started yet. The thing is, this is a golden opportunity to catch up on all those things you “never have time to do”. (For those are more mobile, who love to clean – and those who don’t – this quarantine is quite possibly the best, deepest spring-cleaning opportunity we’ve ever had. Using it?)

Several times in my life I’ve been laid up and secluded from normal life: mostly years ago, when I had cancer, when I had foot and ankle surgeries, numerous times I’ve had flu, sinusitis and/or bronchitis or pneumonia; additionally: Norovirus, even shingles. My Bible, favorite music, computer, ukulele and sketchbooks don’t let me down at such times. I’m a bona fide guru of productive down time.

Sometimes we knew I was going to have a surgery sufficiently ahead of time to allow us to prepare, as with my foot and ankle surgeries, and we set up command central directly at my bedside, with as much remote control (and grabber sticks) as possible:

Be prepared! Or overly prepared!


Whatcha got there? Click for details.

Now, this post was at first being written addressing being nearly completely incapacitated and confined to bed, but these principles can be applied to less limiting situations, like stay-at-home orders during a pandemic. Read on.

Careful observers will see in this photo that not only do I have my (old) computer and printer but also a microwave, nuke-able salmon and rice, snacks, a sketchbook, colored pencils, a sharpener, various office supplies including a pen and paper and scissors, paper, a lap desk, language books, meds, napkins, plastic flatware, paper plates, fans for temperature control, the ubiquitous lamp and clock, speakers, cords, keyboard, rechargeable batteries and a charger, my camera, a trash can, wind-up toys to tease the kitties with…and you can’t even see the cooler and tissues and books we just put on the bed next to me during the day, or the flowers folks sent that Greg put around the room to cheer me up or the medical TENS unit or automated icer for my surgical sites the surgeon provided. It seems excessive to have a whole office and half kitchen by the bed, but it was quite necessary for the time involved, especially as we lived in a tri-level house and I couldn’t navigate the stairs to reach the kitchen let alone the office, studio or den. I didn’t even miss the TV though. There’s “never anything good on”. But I did have an arsenal of Brit-com DVDs to tickle my funny bone if need be. Nothing tragic or melodramatic allowed! And they say, laughter is the best medicine.

Of course, if you have no notice before an illness or a sudden severe injury, it’s hard to pull this off, once on the sick list. You’ll have to find a kind soul to help you. I happened to be lucky enough to have married one. 🙂

Wallowing in your misery will NOT help you get better faster. Doing something constructive at least makes the time bearable and distracts you from the pain. I went off the hard painkillers to common store Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen within 5 days – sometimes 2 – on any surgery I’ve had, because I knew people fighting addiction to them. I don’t care for pain any more than the next person, but pain is useful and built into you for a reason: it warns you when you’re about to hurt something by trying too much too soon, and you can’t tell if you’re feeling better if you’re drugged into oblivion! Doctors always ask you what pain level you’re at; how can you give an accurate answer to that while on painkillers? I also think it’s good to build your pain tolerance, because you never know when you’ll need some. You’re free to disagree but I’ve amazed people with my ability to withstand intense discomfort. (It’s the frustration, not the pain, that gets me; it’s a mental battle, and that’s why I attack it this way.) We’re only getting older (it beats the alternative)…we are guaranteed to face more challenges, yet still must think, function, and forge on!!

Hobbies and side hustles via the Internet are fantastic ways to keep your attitude up when your body is down. I’ve used times like that to study foreign languages, read through the Bible, write or learn new songs, design outfits, do some good old-fashioned foundational drawing practice (as opposed to studio painting), study how to build and improve websites, find new recipes, tour the world on Google Maps, do brain-training puzzles, catch up on news and business trends, clean out my email inboxes, and do small approved exercises that can help wherever needs improvement at the time. Sometimes I research whatever ailment or injury is vexing me to be in the know and have some sense of proactive control (or at least what not to do). Many times I’ll post videos on my Vimeo channel since I have time to edit and export (slow), or write in a blog on one of my sites–if I don’t have a client or two needing attention on their sites. Rarely I tweet…I can clearly write a novel of a blog post about being sick (usefully at least, but who wants graphic tweets about being sick?) There’s no limit to what you can busy yourself with. Sometimes I plan my next painting(s) or series. I’m also verrrry slowly working on a couple of books. …Often I cuddle a kitty or two. For example, our are Peekaboo and Yeti:


(Pictures reposted by permission of–since it’s MY site.) Got that, cats? MINE.  : P

(Images from my 1st-ever, aka “practice” website while learning how to design websites. Odd experimentation as a writing/photo editing exercise too. But silly and fun.)

Some folks will devour reading material; others will crochet; others will try their hand at poetry or felting or jewelry making; some will call old friends; some will tweak their abilities at macro-lens photography; heaven help them, some will get sucked into toxic social media…some will just watch TV. I never have a TV in the bedroom, but I have never regretted getting a laptop instead of a desktop. Mine’s on its third life (hard drive) and it’s worth its weight in gold to my mental productivity and self-education. For a change, my husband streamed a series or two from cable while he was recently sick, when he wasn’t (wisely) sleeping to aid his recuperation (most of the time; they said it was flu but we still suspect strep throat because of his symptoms and the fact that sometimes cultures give false negatives – we just learned that). Personally I don’t find shows or video games to be a good use of time from which I can derive later benefit, so I make stuff or study. It makes me feel better. And I’ve been taking supplements and have really improved my immune system the last few months…I even avoided that dreaded Flu B my husband fought for over 2 weeks. (Ha ha, it came back around to me a couple months later). He’s all better now. (Update: after 5 weeks/2 rounds of ineffective antibiotics, I’m finally feeling almost well! Apparently a virus all along.)

If you need rest, by all means, rest. One of the things many of us wish we had more of is sleep!!

Being bedridden or limited in activity is a real downer for a nature-hiking enthusiast (oh it’s winter anyway), but there are plenty of ways to keep your sanity in the interim, and you may reclaim or discover pastimes that will stick with you long after your recovery, because you’ve deepened your knowledge and expanded your horizons.

Science supports that keeping one’s mind nimble and learning new things is incredibly beneficial to the body, and vice versa. I have certain immune and arthritic issues that in some ways negate that claim, but I’m (ask anyone) not normal. Still, weight training and stretching are so helpful for my arthritis (plucking ukulele completely eradicated it from my hands – free lessons here), and getting out and active does help my immunity when I can get there. Part of my immunity issue is vitamin D deficiency, because after so many radiation treatments my oncologist told me that I’m not supposed to be in the sun…ever, for the rest of my life…and the protection required is nearly prohibitive, especially in hot weather. Conversely, my mom is an octogenarian and is very physically active for her age (or for twenty years younger for that matter) and is still sharp mentally and curious to learn more, always. Many studies show that physical and mental training actually support and complement each other. Don’t take my word for it. Look it up!

So if you’re normally sporty (or even if you’re not) – and down for the count, don’t cheat yourself by whining or wasting away while in convalescence. You can shorten your recovery time both literally and perceptively by being proactive in your physical therapy (or other doctor’s orders – I follow mine for best results…I hope), and by keeping your mind occupied along with whatever else in your body safely still works. (That doesn’t mean eat the place out of house and home, though; you may not be able to work it off just yet). But DO SOMETHING! Because…

You can still do great things!!!

Do well. Get well. Be well. Stay well.

♥ – Eilee






All content on this site © 2013-2020/present L. Eilee S. George; all rights reserved.

A Sampler of Colorado Beauty

A Sampler of Colorado Beauty

When I was a teen, we went to Colorado for summer vacation, and I fell in love – with the area. We drove up the Pike’s Peak Highway, and stopped along the way to experience the quaking aspens. The breeze shimmered through them like so many chimes, and they leaned and swayed with it like a dance. I didn’t even know yet how sublime they were in autumn: the way the sun illuminated whole groves full of aspens with golden leaves and sparkling white trunks, the light bouncing and multiplying until the entire grove glowed as a single entity.

Today, Colorado is my home. A couple weekends back, my hubby and I trekked up in the mountains on another of our many adventures, and I shot this; they sound almost like a rain stick – please enjoy:

Back to when I was younger, once I decided to accept the invitation of one of the many art schools who had wooed me, there was only one backdrop I desired: those beautiful Rocky Mountains. Every weekend I would voyage into uncharted territory–sans cell phone or GPS–get willingly lost, and found myself enough times to draw a map in my head. I began collecting cozy destination havens and hidden gems with towering ponderosas, cascading waterfalls and carpets of pine needles. One key spot became very dear to me; I showed it to my parents when they visited. Many years later I shared it with my sweetheart, and a few years after that we said our vows there. We visit regularly like giddy newlyweds, although we wed over a decade ago. I’ve photographed and filmed it; I’ve drawn it; I’ve even painted it; here’s a twilight tour of it:

The mountains are a place of refuge, of reconnecting with nature, of awareness of God’s creation; a place to at least feel you are closer to God, in a preview slice of heaven. My hubby and I go out there frequently to reset and reassess our priorities, to adjust our perspectives. A couple of months back, we were on a back road to a camping area and pulled over to enjoy a babbling stream, cooing to us with musical phrases how relaxation is there for anyone who seeks it. Lazy fish circled in the crystal clear water; a sky blue dragonfly traced a figure-eight circuit over a network of tiny waterfalls that bubbled and warbled, as the breeze caressed the trees overhead and a few songbirds harmonized. Welcome to the Rockies; this is their music:

Everyone needs a place to recharge and regroup; nature does that for people. Get away from people, where you can hear your thoughts with no intrusions. Listen to the sounds of the outdoors; it’s a gift and a natural longing within the human creature to connect to our environment and to draw strength from it, for we are part of the Earth. For some, that haven is the beach; for some, it’s the slopes; and for some, it’s the open prairie, or some good rock outcroppings to climb, or even the swamps. For my husband and me, it’s mountain forests with a stream. Find your own oasis, and rejuvenate and thrive.

 – Eilee 







All content this site © 2013 – 2020/present L. Eilee S. George, All Rights Reserved

Studio Days

Studio Days

I have spent the majority of my life in an art studio of one description or another. Lately I’ve entered the music studio stage of my life, and it welcomed me with open arms, like I was coming home. One of my mentors calls it the peace that surpasses understanding, and I must say, doors have been opening for me that I never expected.

Recently I was asked by a buddy, Jim, to sing backups on his album. I was so honored. We had met over a year ago at one of my regular events and regularly admire each other’s work, so of course I agreed.

I was a little nervous before going, having only recorded in my own home recording booth thus far – but it was a very positive experience. The sound engineer Brian was very welcoming and down to earth. I loved watching the workflow in general; as I observed, I had good instincts and practices in my own recording and editing, and even my choice in equipment.

When it was my turn in the booth, I took to the environment like a duck to water. I was decisive as to whether it was a good or bad take or if a certain phrase needed tweaking. As at home, I knew listening through the headphones gave me much more detailed sound so I could really hear and give feedback to both songwriter Jim and engineer Brian, to cooperatively refine the tracks. I easily articulated what needed doing; asked what they thought; we found solutions together.

As a natural harmonizer, I hear harmonies all over the instrumentation in a piece. I know I have choices and I know I don’t have to stick to one part; I can go between parts or sing in unison or drop out in different areas of a song to leave the spotlight on the main vocals, in order to interpret the intensity of the lyrics in each part or to help the song to build and to resolve. As I listened to Jim’s songs, I honed in on the story being told and made some suggestions, as he humbly gave me a wide latitude of artistic license. He heard many and we discussed options, and he liked my instincts. On one song, I asked, “Can you give me a separate track in addition to the one I just did, so I can experiment? Do we have time?” I got their respective blessings and did what I was thinking of, not even being able to hear my other harmony track. When Brian played back all the tracks together, we learned that I harmonized in perfect time and relationship to my other harmony. They were both reacting, “How did you do that?” and I said, “I can still hear the other one in my head; I just thought this area might like a little more roundness for emphasis.” They thought it was genius concept and execution (thanks to already having familiarized myself with the songs ahead of time, I even laid down a couple tracks in a single take with almost no editing needed) – and even though it was unplanned, it was a keeper for the song, and we did the same sort of thing on the next song because he was so happy with the results. Jim’s praises and trusting my instincts were very validating!

After the last session, I stuck around briefly, talking recording process and equipment with Brian, who was very gracious and generous with his knowledge and his feedback with where I had already gotten on my own. He was so encouraging and it inspired me, because he has a degree in this field and many years of experience. I couldn’t wait to get back to recording my own work at home, armed with bolstered confidence.

I have to say that in the information age, almost any knowledge you want is available if you are willing to search for it, and it’s helped me to do everything from learning web design to repairing several engine issues in my truck to learning languages, and now…sound engineering and recording, as well as music business. But machines and books can never replace that human experience and exchange of ideas; the open, spontaneous, sharing communications of humans are key for all growth and creation. One doesn’t create in a bubble; we have to get it out there! And I will, but I’m taking the necessary time and effort in order to do it right.

I have the blessing of many wonderful musicians in my life, a driving passion and hungry mind that God gave me, and more than one family and growing number of fans who cheer me on. May you each find your niche and support system as well.

 – Eilee




All content on this site © 2013-present L. Eilee S. George, All Rights Reserved.

ARTithmetic: Geometry Ordered My Artistic World

ARTithmetic: Geometry Ordered My Artistic World

Fine artists and math aren’t usually friends. Math is a necessary evil at times, but visual and wordy creative types generally avoid it. (And for those of you who know my fanaticism concerning grammar and spelling, yes, the title above was intentional, and no, I do not have a fever. I do however suffer from a fascination with terrible puns. And no, there isn’t any other kind of pun.)

However, math skills are incredibly useful in many areas of drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture and more. Linear perspective is based on mathematical relationships, lending realistic proportions to depictions. It translates into sculpture getting anatomy in proportion; into fashion design measuring for pattern sizing. Ancient cultures, Michelangelo, and modern artists alike utilized measuring and drawing grids for enlarging paintings. Mathematical volume ratios are important in timing and recipes, from acids for etching printing plates, to mixing paints, to formulating ceramic glazes and kiln temperatures and firing times.

I didn’t like math much, except geometry. It actually has saved my art projects on many occasions. It isn’t just figuring square footage for a rectilinear wall (length x width) before you buy too much paint. It can be handy to figure out the perimeter of various shapes depending on a project’s needs, and you may not be able to predict all the needs you’ll have in future projects, so it’s good to already have a working knowledge of math embedded in your grey matter before a problem crops up (especially if you’re under a deadline).

The point is, for example, at this particular juncture you don’t know how big the circle is or the radius or diameter from the info you have right in front of you. This is how you find out. Once I had a project into which I had to figure out how to fit a circle exactly between random elements that were not making it easy to just measure a diameter; the three places crowding into the space formed a triangle. Using my existing knowledge of geometry, I could figure out the precise point at which I needed to place my compass point, based on a principle that didn’t even require actual measuring. No measuring? Cool. I did have a couple of extra steps because the space was already halfway enclosed and I did have to take measurements to recreate a triangle from those three points to get the angles right, but I’ll start by the main concept, which, barring such constraints, really requires no measuring.

Figure 1

First, some basic vocabulary, like you need to know that straight line segments connect singular points. Simple enough. Then you must understand what perpendicular means: that would be a line that is exactly 90 degrees difference from another line. Then you should know that “bisect” means to cut in half. Also know that the center point of a circle is theoretically where one could put a compass point to adjust the business end to scribe a circle around it, and the distance between the circle’s edge to the center point is called a radius, and the distance across the widest part of a circle from edge to edge is a diameter. Sorry if that seems a little too elementary, but I’m trying not to assume too much (I haven’t limited who visits here other than spammers and other mischief makers).

Figure 2

That introduction should prepare anyone for the following rule: the center point of a circle that will pass through all three of any three points (in any orientation to each other) may be found by determining the respective perpendicular bisectors of two line segments connecting any two pairs of the three points, and locating the intersection of these two bisectors. For example, on Figure 2 one line segment paired with its perpendicular bisector is in purple, and the other pair is in green; where the green and purple bisectors intersect is where you put your compass point; adjust it to the span between that point (the center point) and any one of the random three points, and you will see that the circle drawn with that radius will pass through all three of those points.

Figure 3

Now, your three points can be in any proportional orientation to each other; they needn’t be lined up anywhere close to a regular sequence as they nearly are in Figure 2 above. Alternatively, as in Figure 3 here, two points can be rather close to each other, while the third is relatively distant, yet you will find that the principle of the intersection of perpendicular bisectors functions every bit as accurately with any configuration for finding that common radius at that intersection point. You’ll notice that the intersection seems to be more “between” some of the points in this second example; whereas before, it seemed more “outside” of the area of the more lined up points. And that’s okay, either way.

Figure 4
Figure 5
Figure 6

So…how does one determine that perpendicular bisector? Well, there’s always measuring it out, which is a fat pain in the neck, but the easy way is with any straightedge and the compass with its pencil. Even if all you have is a piece of scrap paper, you can fold it over a few times and the fold will make a nice straightedge if you don’t abuse it too much. You don’t need a ruler with measuring marks, and you don’t actually have to calculate anything; the laws of physics do the heavy lifting, and you’re just an apparatus. So let’s try it:

1. Draw a line segment between any two of the three points.

2. Draw a second segment between (either) end of the first segment (since you only have the two choices left), and the third point.

3. The same procedure for finding the perpendicular bisector (steps 4 through 7) will be applied to each segment, so choose just one to perform it on first.

4. Stretch your compass just a little farther than the length of line segment #1. A distance that could produce a nearly equilateral triangle would be sufficient distance to get a good bisector length.

5. Place your compass point on one end of the segment.

6. Estimate about where you think a perpendicular line would pass on both sides of the segment and mark an arc (just part of a circle) lightly but generously in that vicinity, to be sure it crosses it on both sides fully. Do not readjust your compass after making these lines. Figure 6 may help you see what I mean on placement.

7. Repeat the arc process from the point on the other end of segment #1. Again, don’t readjust your compass by mistake; these arcs must be equal from either side to stay centered. This will produce a little “X” on either side of segment #1. Drawing a line that passes right through those two X’s will be the perpendicular bisector of that segment.

8. Now repeat steps 4 through 7, only for (whichever your choice is for:) segment #2.

Now if you have a physical project that you needed a circle shape for, you can cut out the circle you just made, and use the circle itself (either it, or use the hole it left in the paper or cardboard you cut it from) as a drawing template. Cut it out of chipboard or whatever and it’ll be a little sturdier than just on paper, but a little harder to cut out. Or match a circle template to it if you can…you may not be able to, though, since available sizes of templates are so limited. If you’re an adult, I suggest cutting it out carefully by hand with and X-Acto knife instead of scissors if you can (but kids, DO get help from an adult; X-Acto type art knives are notorious for slicing even adults if one isn’t very careful and steady), or if you’re lucky enough to have a circle cutter, go for that if you’re working in wood. (It bears mentioning that in every school, furniture, design or model building shop I ever worked in, these art knives had way more accident reports than any of the power tools! Don’t be overly confident; be extra careful!!)

My project for which I first had to use this knowledge had a key area that was very difficult to access, because other elements were already in the way to just being able to measure easily. Knowing the (perhaps obscure) three-point rule about circles was already in my brain, patiently waiting for a use when I found I needed it. It paid off!

But sometimes you’ll need actual measurements for a triangle. The thing one has to remember is that any 3 points (that can locate a circle) also makes a triangle, and all triangles have 3 sides. Those sides (like the segments we made in the last exercise) have center points, (and therefore, they have perpendicular bisectors). Triangles also have 3 vertices (vertexes if you prefer), or corners, and no matter what proportion the triangle is in (right, obtuse, scalene, equilateral, isosceles; whatever), those 3 vertices always total 180 degrees when you add their angle measurements together. Always! And that means that there is always a way to figure any single unknown measurement, so long as you have the degree measurements of at least 2 vertices, or of at least 2 sides. This is why the Pythagorean theorem works for right triangles; but I’ll explain that later. Don’t worry: the formula is almost easier than the pronunciation. (You can scroll down to Figures 8 and 10 for triangle references, where these two triangle paragraphs are expanded upon.)

What if you don’t have a right triangle? Well, how much info do we have? Is it enough? You pretty much need measurements of 2/3 of the sides or 2/3 of the vertices degrees to get that last third of either. There are ways to do combinations of a vertex and a couple of sides and things like that, but I have neither needed that combination nor have I any recollection of how to do it, and it’s late and I’m too tired to look any of this stuff up; I’m going purely on memory in this whole post…literally from decades past.

Practical Applications

You might wonder why we even want to know any stuff about sides. Well, if you’re edging a shape with some sort of trim, you’d need to figure out the perimeter measurement, or the distance around it, so you’d know how much yardage/board footage (or other type of length) of trim to buy. If you’re painting a big shape, you’d want to know how much paint you’ll need, and need to calculate the area of a shape. Most containers tell builders or DIY remodelers how many fluid ounces or gallons or whatever they contain; some will say how many square inches or feet or whatever that liquid volume will cover…but they may not. And having far too much or too little is often a problem if you fail to plan. Paint can get pricy, and it’s bad for the environment to waste it and many people don’t even bother to look at recycling. So waste not!

Area, a measure of the surface of a two-dimensional entity, is good knowledge for many things: ordering sod for your yard, or raw canvas to stretch z number of q sized stretched canvases plus their borders, or concrete for your patio, or to help calculate how much x number of cows will eat grazing a pasture in y amount of time before you have to rotate them to a different pasture and let the other pastures grow again for the next round. Cows? We’re talking about cows? Heck yeah! Math is super useful in almost any topic. So there are formulas to help us figure this stuff out for almost any shape, even if you have to take a big weird shape and break it up into smaller components that are easier to define and then add it all together.

Quadrilaterals, Triangles and Circles

I guess I’ll start with quadrilaterals, or four-sided figures; they’re the easiest. Perimeter for a square would be S x 4, where S stands for Side. For a rectangle it would be (length x 2) plus (width x 2), or L2+W2. For a parallelogram it would be the same as for a rectangle, and for a rhombus, perimeter formula would be the same as for a square…but not so for area.

Figure 7

The area (A) of a square or rectangle is simply A=L x W. For a rhombus, you measure the lines connecting the opposing corners and multiply those: A=D1 x D2 (D stands for diagonal). For a parallelogram it’s a liiiittle more complicated, because you kind of break it up into components, one of which is a triangle, so I’ll shelf the parallelogram and teach you about triangles first, with a quick detour to trapezoids in between.

Triangles are nearly their own field of study and I do believe that relates to the term “trigonometry”. All I remember from trig is how to figure the sine, cosine, and tangent, and I’ve not yet had practical cause to use it, so I’ll skip that for my audience. We’ll concentrate on perimeter and area.

Figure 8

The perimeter of any triangle is just derived by adding the sides’ values to each other. The area, however, is obtained by using the formula A=½ h(b); in other words, area equals ½ times the height, times the base (when you see parentheses in a formula, it means to multiply the value within and the values outside the parentheses…it saves confusion using the old-school multiplication symbol x alongside variables which also may look like x). It makes more sense when you look at a right triangle and notice that it’s like someone sliced a square (or a rectangle, or a rhombus) in half diagonally…base times height is a whole lot like length times width for a square…then you divide it in half, because it’s only half of the area of the quadrilateral it would fit in. ½ h(b). Picture that while looking at the different triangle types in Figure 8 above. So…what are height and base?

Well, you can take any triangle and assign one side (generally the bottom) as the base. From there, the top corner opposite that base is what determines height, but only if you measure on the perpendicular. It doesn’t matter if the height is directly over the base or hanging out in the “air”, as it might with an obtuse triangle. The height is always completely perpendicular to the base (see Figure 8 above, on far right; the obtuse triangle with the dotted lines; note how that also translates to the acute triangle in center).

Now I’m just going to give formulas for shapes, and if you have questions on how to execute them, please email me…or contact your local math teacher, who is probably (hopefully) far better at explaining this than I am.

Figure 9

A trapezoid at first seems like a Frankenstein’s monster of shapes, but its formula is pretty easy, kind of ripped off from the triangle, but it acknowledges measurements for a top AND a bottom base: A=1/2 h(b1+b2). You don’t double the height, because it’s still just one height. Note that the formula below the parallelogram in Figure 9 says “either base”, not “both”, because you only need ONE. Since they’re the same (they’re parallel and so are the sides that connect them), you can choose either one of them.

Figure 10

Right triangles of course have special rules all their own. In geometry they always have a little square in the corner reminding you that their angle is 90 degrees. The single side exactly opposite that right angle is called the hypotenuse. The example shown on the far left is actually an isosceles triangle (two 45-degree angles plus one 90-degree angle equals 180 degrees), but sides a and b could also be different lengths, and the other two angles can be different measurements as well (as they would necessarily be, what with having different length sides). For example, the triangle on the right has one 30-degree angle, one 60-degree angle, and the (right) 90-degree angle, again adding up to 180 degrees.

Right triangles are where the Pythagorean theorem comes in: a2 x b2 = c2. If a triangle with sides abc is a right triangle with c being the hypotenuse (the side opposite the right angle), where the number of length units a=3 and of b=4, and you don’t know c, you can calculate that using the theorem: a2 + b2 = c2,  and a=3 so 3×3=9, and b=4 so 4×4=16, so 32 + 42 = c2, then 9 +16 = c2, then c2 is obviously 25, and the square root of 25 is 5. So 5 is the measurement of that hypotenuse. Obviously, the measurements rarely calculate so they fall into such neat round numbers; this is just an easy example. You can figure other square roots manually, but it is admittedly tedious; I highly recommend using a calculator for this component. Similarly, if you change the same proportion around so that b is the value missing instead of c, you can just subtract a from c to get b, or: c2a2=b2, instead of adding like we just did.

Figure 11

Hmm…we’ve done quadrilaterals and triangles quite enough. So back to circles – let’s do some actual math. One of the most “famous” formulas in geometry is “Pi R squared“, or πr2. In truth, that’s not a complete formula; it’s only half! You need to know what that combination yields. In this case, it’s the Area, so A=πr2 is the whole (balanced) formula. The A again represents Area; the r represents the radius, or the distance from the center point to any edge of a circle (and it’s the same distance to any edge of the same circle). Another useful formula for circles is for the Circumference, or the distance around the outside – and yes, basically it’s the same thing as perimeter for other shapes; “circumference” is just a specialized term for the perimeter of a circle. The formula looks a tiny bit like the one for Area, but don’t confuse the two: C=2πr or in longhand: Circumference = 2 times pi times the radius. (It really is quite different in function.) Now, anyone who’s paying attention will notice that 2 times radius is the same thing as (one times) the diameter, since the diameter is the distance across a circle at its widest, which necessarily runs through the center point…essentially, 2 radiuses. So you could alternately say π(d) and be done with it. Except, of course, until you need to plug in a definition for π (pronounced pi like the Greek letter). Pi is a “magical” circle-specific value represented by 22/7 – which, since those numbers don’t ever make human sense together, have a decimal equivalent something like:

3.14159265358979323846264338327950288419716939937510582097494459230781640628620899862803482534211706798214808651328230646…blah blah, random constant ad infinitum…but for most practical purposes, 3.14 is adequate. If you don’t dig doing immortal arithmetic using top-heavy improper fractions with anemic prime denominators, go for the decimal shorthand instead. I think I’ve done more with circles than with any other shape, save for squares…obviously.

Formulas For Forms

Artists also work with 3-D geometric forms as well as simply 2-D shapes. Remember from our art lessons on Forms that forms are essentially mere spatial extrusions or rotations of shapes, expanding 2-D to 3-D. Formulas abound for forms as well, but instead of needing formulas for area and circumference or perimeter, they need formulas for things like volume and surface area…things like for the sphere: V=4/3(π)r3. Prisms are easy; calculate the shape on the end and multiply by the height of the prism to get the volume of it. Surface area of those, you just calculate the areas of rectangular sides and add them all to the areas of each of the ends. Pyramids are 4 equilateral or isosceles triangles plus a square base for surface area. Volume for those is a little weirder. Cubes are made of 6 squares, so their surface area would be the area of one square times 6; its volume would be Length times Width times Height (LxWxH). Tetrahedrons are 4-sided forms with all equilateral sides. When you get into dodecahedrons, icosahedrons and the like, you’ve gone beyond what I’ve ever had use for personally, but there are mathematic resources on the web you can search for with any question – or, again, contact your local friendly math expert and he or she will likely be glad for the inquiry.

Grow Further from the Foundations

Of course, shapes and forms may not always conform to geometric proportions; sometimes they are organic shapes or forms (see lesson on Shape). But usually you can guesstimate parts based on similarity to a geometric counterpart…or five.

Now, you may be wondering…how on earth again can any of this be useful to an artist? I’m certainly not saying it comes up with every project. But when it does come up, it is good to be prepared, and know what you’re doing. I had to figure out how to draw proper gothic arches for my 3-tree triptych. I had to figure out perspective for Catreedral. I had to stay aware of paint to medium to water ratios in all of my acrylic mixtures so my paint didn’t lose adhesion viscosity effective in relation to the canvas or other substrates. I do commission work to fit in certain spaces in situ.

A lot of times it’s like my first example: you’re trying to fit an element into a composition with only part of the information you need to execute it, and you should know how to generate that missing information from what you do have. It can help you assemble 3-dimensional forms; it can help you understand proportion when drawing things either freehand or by perspective. It can help you organize radial or concentric arrays or grids in regular intervals to make patterns. It can be used in symbolic capacities. It can help you distribute elements on a certain shape and size of substrate. Perimeter and circumference are good for figuring minimum linear measurements for physical materials to wrap around the outside of a shape. Volume is good for figuring out how much resin you can fill a hollow form with, or how much airspace a solid one will take up, or how much water or glycerin it would displace if submerged; while area and surface area would let you know how much paint or flocking or whatever you would need to color or coat the thing with. When you get into large shapes or forms this sort of calculation takes on a more significant importance with budgeting supplies, as well as figuring sale price from a root of cost of materials, times your hourly rate, differentials, incidentals and whatever is relevant for your medium and project. It’s not always formulas; sometimes it’s understanding the theory and relationships behind the formula and applying it in a custom situation. I’ve gotten to the place where I know some of this stuff so well, I can visualize it accurately without doing computations, which saves lots of time with sometimes impatient or unrealistic clients.

Model of Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Symphony Park (formerly called Union Park as a project) in downtown Las Vegas NV; deduced from old 3D files that couldn’t translate to my laser cutting equipment; I utilized geometry and a torch to make it happen. Finished model for RNL (lower left) is less than 3″ in any dimension.

When I was an architectural model builder, I was given a rather challenging project: to produce a very quick small-scale context model of a building designed by a visionary architect named Frank Gehry…without any plans or elevations. I was to fabricate it from rigid, flat clear acrylic sheet, and manipulate it to match the feel of an existing context model. I had no access at the time to 3D printers, and clear media on those had not yet been developed. I had to figure out how to make a flat pattern, cut it on the laser cutter out of clear acrylic, and then carefully melt it into shape with a propane torch and tweezers to bend it into shape, but I needed a starting point that was viable, in a flat pattern I could cut out first on the laser cutter. I scrutinized a digital virtual model of this building, which looked, as some say, like a crumpled piece of paper, and then I noticed that the (thankfully ubiquitous) windows were of a certain ratio of proportion to themselves and between each other, and were laid out on a sort of grid, and I started twirling the camera angle in the file all around, (no idea who drafted it or how; stellar job though), counting in all the relevant directions, taking notes and creating a schematic. I ended up, using synthesized knowledge from my foundations in geometry, making a very faithful yet tiny model of that building that satisfied all requirements from my superiors and from the client. Geometry prowess made my deducing the pattern for it possible, and my job very well may have depended on it…I was after all running the model shop, and there was no one else to figure it out for me, or so I assumed; it was my job to do it. In general for all projects there I had to have a good handle on fractional proportions for making scale models to begin with. Math saved my proverbial posterior. Never underestimate the income value of the ability to analyze and solve.

If you prepare and have these geometric principles in your head already, you will be able to spontaneously formulate solutions to many future problems on the fly, without ever having anticipated this or that particular challenge prior to its presenting itself. In professional situations, clients are not willing to wait around for you to learn basic, practical information like math to finish their project; you should already know that stuff. That’s part of doing the job. And more jobs than you give them credit for it require very solid math skills for some aspect of it. A well-rounded artist is versatile – and by nature, a problem solver. Math, and particularly the user-friendly concrete geometry, is another essential tool in your utility belt.

It must be said that art should not be funneled down to graphic design applications, any more than math should be limited to what a calculator can do for you. What I mean is, get down in the muck (or paint or clay or hand ciphering) and do it manually; figure it out on your own, without a machine, because that is what it takes to get your brain to be really agile and useful in unpredictable situations. And hey, if an anti-tech dystopian society befalls us, you’ll have marketable skills that will fast earn your reputation as a person in great demand and of great success by default, since most dullards won’t be able to add two and two and come up with four without some microchip telling them so, or be able figure out how big a barrel to make to fit that low-tech washbasin in the corner of his hovel, let alone how much pitch to coat it with so it doesn’t turn his dirt floor to mud.

If you are frustrated with other academic subjects, and struggling to find relevance for them in your life, I do hope you take this post to heart as the first of many examples of how things are, in fact, connected, and how they can be made useful. Aspects and underlying concepts in different areas of knowledge can be synthesized quite usefully into other areas, informing your vocation in ways that are rich and multilayered, and propelling you (and your career) into deeper realms of excellence in your craft.

This sort of outside-the-box thinking is actually cultivated in studying the arts themselves, more than in other more common school subjects alone. This is also why I am more a proponent of STEAM schools over STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math schools)…the “A” standing for “Arts”, of course…and that’s not just visual arts, but all arts, for they all stimulate and stretch the brain in unique ways: analysis, synthesis and evaluation over mere memorization, comprehension and simple applications. It’s the type of creative, often unstructured yet free and communicative thinking that fosters inventive minds and generates entrepreneurs, and that’s a pretty darn important bundle of skills these days. On that note, I encourage everyone to support arts education in all schools, because it enhances technology training in crucial ways that cannot be taught without the arts. Arts and the way they challenge our brain development will always be just as valuable to our culture as math, sciences and history, and as important as communication and social skills will always be, which we are relearning as a society, through recent backsliding and failures, that we still very much need to retain and sustain. Arts, in concert with technology and other sectors, will help us to preserve, portray and propel our culture.

 – Eilee

Lines based on numerical proportions in space show off Vermeer’s linear one-point perspective in “The Music Lesson”.
Look how real that space feels! Math is good, y’all.

Image (prior to my editing) courtesy of Google Art Project. Please email using contact form if issues with image.





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