PC – paint me a picture…

I can’t sleep. My mind wandered on the idea that I ought to have my computer making me art work. So, I popped out of bed and started coding. Then I stopped, and realized what an absurd endeavor I was pursuing…

It’s not really “impossible” for a computer to paint; I mean, it can use any program you can ;). It can muddle through pixel by pixel in hopes of stumbling upon something truly artistic. I’ll code it, if you watch it work. If I ask my computer to make me a tiny black and white picture – say 100 pixels square – how many images would someone have to review to find the few “artistic” images?

The answer, as you have likely already calculated:


Yeah, let me know when you’ll be finished with your critiques. And for the love of sanity, keep colors away from the machine!!!

9 Replies to “PC – paint me a picture…”

  1. 0 through 9 all have at least one instance of being in a groups of 1, 2, and 3. Only 3,4, and 9 have an instance being in a group of 4. If you let 3 be blue, 5 red, and 7 yellow, 0 would be black and 9 would be white. The even numbers would become the secondary colors to complete the palette. If this was done on Tuesday you’d have time on Wednesday to get a turkey for Thanksgiving. Have a happy one.

  2. Martin:

    Of all your comments so far, I find this one the most… err… interesting, or perplexing… I’m not so sure we’re on the same page here.

    Are you relating a way to represent colors? Because I was grappling with the idea of how many discreet possibilities there are when generating even the smallest image. I.e. draw me every possible picture that you can on a 100 pixel square canvas.

    There are always n^(10,000) possibilities, where n is you number of colors.

    Could you please clarify what you’re telling me here? Why did you go with base ten, why did you assign THOSE colors to the primes, what secondary colors are we talking about? Is this an idea for generating random artwork? You can see, I’m a bit lost.

    I’m not sure your idea will allow my computer to draw me cartoons like Saul Steinberg’s.

  3. Andrew,
    Something that is artistic, for me, involves human expression, development, skill and sensitivity in production. A computer might be able to produce something that aesthetically pleasing: but for me it would not be an artistic creation. That is not to deny any beauty or sensual stimulation the end result might generate. I’m also not suggesting here that that all art has to be beautiful in the sense of pretty, i.e. Edouard Manet’s Execution of the Emperor Maximilian, Gericault’s Raft of the Medusa, and Picasso’s Guernica. There are also painters who worked with color formulas, Seurat. Art is, again for me, about the human expression on a personal level. Could you write code to produce a voice that could interpret on it’s own a song with the artistry of Pavarotti, the poetry of Shakespeare? You may be able to write code that will allow you to personally express some generated outcome/art. In which case you would be using the computer, code, monitor, printer as the painter uses canvas, paint, and brushes.

    Now about the rest of my post – Andrew, I know nothing about writing code. Many years ago on one of the first PC’s, I determined that writing computer programs was not something that I was going to do. I observed at that time that if computers were going to serve a broad range of possibilities someone would have to write programs for others to use.
    When I looked at your post it was meaningless to me beyond the numbers it contained.
    I looked at the mass of numbers and decided, sorry, to play. I didn’t choose base 10 they were the only numbers there. Glad it was not binary, not sure what I would have done with that. I was busy today so did not produce the color scheme as per my prescription, maybe later for fun. My initial observation was that some of the numbers appeared in pairs, how many? How many triples? How many quads (just observations)? Since you were interested in the art aspect I wondered how I might interpret this group of numbers as art. I began by assigning one of the primary colors to the number 3, just an impulse. Then it clicked that 5 and 7 would position the primary colors (BYR pigments not RGB light) in the center of a number field beginning with 0 and ending with 9. I should have reversed black and white since with pigments white might better represent no color and black represent a mixture of all of the colors. The secondary colors would be 4 violet, 6 orange and 8 and 2 ended up green with no possibilities for tertiary colors. The arrangement of the primaries should probably have been blue, yellow, red, but I was playing. The only real possibility is that this could be a way for generating random color arrangements from various number patterns such as the one you wrote, probably not art. Check out your art posting for a link to an unusual and very interesting art exhibit on campus. Again, I apologize for playing. I hope your Thanksgiving meal is as good as the one you posted for last year. We’ll have lots of family over for the day. Menu will be deep fried turkey, roasted turkey, grilled sausage, dirty rice dressing, cornbread dressing, Louisiana sweet potatoes, broccoli casserole, green beans, cranberry sauce, and assorted deserts. Happy Thanksgiving.

  4. Martin:

    Thanks for clearing all that up. I thought that’s what you might be getting at (coloring my numbers) with your post, but it threw me for a loop for while. I briefly thought you were some Internet genius imparting some some quasi-cryptic algorithm. Keep in mind, Martin, most of our information flow is pretty unidirectional. You could be anyone…

    But, your thoughts and knowledge about color – as well as your implied interest in art – leads me to believe you may be an artist to some extent. Well, that and a lingering hunch… Care to confirm or deny?

    I read the article, and I’ll probably check out that art exhibit soon; I have a little writing to do for my art class, so it may fit in nicely. I’ll post my impressions if/when I go.

    Thanksgiving! A splendid day, and I’ll be cooking up a storm. I’ve been grappling with all my options, and I’ll likely post a menu when they are decided upon (broccoli casserole sound interesting!). The creations should be even better than the ones I made last year. One of my true passions: cooking, in case you didn’t know.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you too.

  5. Here’s the casserole receipe.

    Broccoli Cheese Casserole

    Cook 2 to 3 cups chopped broccoli Frozen broccoli is OK

    Combine the following ingredients and melt together over medium heat
    1 can of cream of mushroom soup Campbell’s is better than most.
    ¼ cup mayonnaise
    ¼ cup of milk
    1 beaten egg
    2 ounces sharp longhorn cheese

    Combine mixture with broccoli in a casserole dish. Cover with bread crumbs and top with thin pats of butter.

    Bake at 350 degrees until bubbly and brown.

    This is not a heart healthy meal!

    This is the rice dressing receipe. As you can see it’s quite a bit. I’m sure you can do the math to down size it.

    Rice Dressing

    1 lb Jimmy Dean mild pork sausage
    1 lb lean ground beef
    2 lbs lean ground pork
    Brown and drain off fat

    2 large onions, chopped
    ½ of a whole celery, chopped
    1 green bell pepper, chopped
    Add vegetables; cook for 30 minutes, covered, stir occasionally.

    2 T roux
    1 can chicken broth
    1 t. salt
    ½ t. black pepper
    ½ t. red pepper
    ½ t. white pepper
    Add roux, broth and seasonings, cook for 1 hour, covered, stir occasionally.

    5 to 9 cups of COOKED rice You can adjust this based on how meaty you want it to be.
    1/2 bunch chopped green onions
    Add to mixture, stir, and serve. Always more delicious the next day! Can be frozen.

    I’m working on a receipe for Italian sausage. It still needs some work.

  6. Martin:


    I’m thinking the broccoli casserole will find its way to my table on Thursday. Even if I don’t get to try them both immediately, I’ll let you know when I do.

    Again, thank you. I love trying new recipes.

  7. Martin:

    I figured I’d save you some coloring time. I took your color recommendations, with 0 as white and 9 as black. You neglected to say what color number one should be, so I left it white as well. I scaled all pixels by ten.

    You can copy the number above, and paste it here:

    hideous image. Of course, you can always insert your own number sequence. Let me know if you use it to make anything artistic.

  8. Very interesting, I guess if I had been more serious about what I was doing I’d have caught the lack of color designation for the number one. The program you’ve written works quite well with your written code. I could not get it to work with anything that I put together. The pattern reminded me immediately of the work of Piet Mondrian. Check out the link and particularly Broadway Boogie Woogie, one of his last two pieces.
    Victory Boogie Woogie was the other and was unfinished.

  9. Martin:

    It should work with any sequence of numbers…

    Interesting art you linked to. Some of those works look like they could be machine generated. I think they’ve motivated me to write a reverse-it program. Give it an image, it spits out the numbers 1-9.

    Of course, that would not be a whole lot different from lossless image formats, but it looks fun to write.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *