Scratching the Surface of a Water-Filled Unbroken Geode

Geode sanding, 40 grit.

There is a finite amount of water on the earth, endlessly cycling through everywhere water goes, from rain to groundwater to sweat to vapor to ice to the sea and back again.

The water that I drank this morning may have been in a sewer pipe last year. It might have seeped through the pores of a neanderthal. But water trapped inside a geode, like a pouch of buried gold coins, has been out Continue reading

Reversing the American Flag Optical Illusion

“I’m a vexillologist,” an older gentlemen said to me on the BART train platform, “and I’ve never seen that.”

He handed me his card. Vexillology is the study of flag symbolism.

I was on my way to the Oakland Women’s March carrying a large American flag that I had handmade several years ago.  I’d never taken it out of my studio. The flag is regulation-sized (3×5 feet) and totally official, except that I reversed the colors: the blue star field turned light yellow, red turned turquoise, and white turned black.

The Inverse U.S Flag Illusion

The inverse U.S. flag is a classic optical illusion, and I’d first come across it in a book of visual Continue reading

Journey Through a Geode


Exploring something fully sometimes requires destroying it, like the dissection of a cadaver or the excavation of an archaeological site. Once the secrets it holds have been revealed, it can never be put back together.

Geodes–plain-looking, round rocks whose hollow insides are lined with crystals–are ubiquitous enough in museum stores and gem shops that they are easy to overlook. Small, glittering geode slices are found in jewelry; larger ones often quartered for bookends, and the largest are propped up for photo ops.  Its designs are occasionally used in mating rituals–e.g., lips and cakes–of high-ranking humans.

Unbroken Geodes

A little over a year ago, I stumbled upon a “Break your own geode kit” on Amazon for $24.95. I’m not affiliated with whatever industrial complex is able to Continue reading

How does Understanding his own Color Blindness change how an Artist uses Color?

In the previous post, Exploring the Secrets of a Color Blind Artist’s Work, a closer look at Brian Brooks’s paintings offers clues to how he sees the world differently. This post explores the trajectory of his paintings after he became more aware of color blindness.

Brian Brooks, Inside Smokey’s Looking Out, 2014, acrylic on wood panel, 8 x 10 inches
Brian Brooks, Inside Smokey’s Looking Out, 2014, acrylic on wood panel, 8 x 10 inches.

How a deeper awareness of color blindness influenced Brian’s work

After realizing that Brian’s color blindness was frustrating the painting process, I suggested he paint with a limited palette. He had never considered this. Continue reading