Sunday, July 30, 2006

Howdy everyone :)

I just wanted to check in and say hello to all my old friends (with a special hug for the lovely Panny, who I miss lots) and I hope to make some new ones, too. :)

How neat is it that the first post included a stunning fractal by the incredibly talented Mr. Northover. Just beautiful.

I think Terry and Tim have created something that is long overdue: a bonafide community where honest, open and respectful discussion about fractal and digital-driven art can thrive. There really is a need for such a community, nothing like it exists anywhere on the web. (Nah, Renderosity does not count, that's more of a "great job!" comment fest pond ensconced in the middle of a Poser sea ;)).

Tina Coggins and I tried to create such a place at FAR, but when we didn't post, nobody else did either, and after a while we didn't have the time to dedicate to oiling its wheels. Having run some successful (and some unsuccessful) discussion communities online, I have learned that the most important thing for it to endure is for people to consistently contribute. Post, post post! Don't lurk, say something. Share a thought, an idea, a resource, a new project. That is the lifesblood of any community, and if everyone's in lurk mode, it won't thrive. So if you're in lurk mode now, register and post. :)

Maybe a "getting to know you" thread might be nice to start off with. I know some of you but not all, and would love to learn more about all of you and have the opportunity to see your work as well if you have it online. I'll start: my name is Mindy Sommers, I am happily married to a Texan I adore. I am originally from New York City. We live in Vermont with two cats in a huge old house that is painted purple inside and out. We run a home-based business, Color Bakery, which is based on my art. I am 46 (gaaahhhh) and clearly remember huckapoo blouses and water buffaloes and the Sonny and Cher Show.

Now tell us about you :) And welcome to everyone, I look forward to reading your posts and seeing all your beautiful art. :)



Blogger Philip Northover said...

Thanks Mindy, the *incredibly talented* Mr. Northover wriggles like a cat stretching in the sun! Good idea to have a getting to know each other thread. I'm 46 too. Got a B.Math degree from the University of Waterloo in Canada, but the demand was more for computer programmers, so I went in for that. I program databases, simulation, and manufacturing control systems. I've always been interested in the arts. No formal training though. No longer a church goer but questions of religion still interest me. I too hope this blog goes well and that we can respect our differences. I agree that blogs need posts - think I recall a rule for now that nobody start more than 2 a week, though comments are unlimited. Of course Terry and Tim can relax the rules depending on how things go. I've made my 2 posts for this week, so somebody else say something! :-)

7/30/2006 2:57 PM

Blogger Tim said...

Hey Philip, you posted on Friday and Saturday and today is the start of a completely new week.

Not only that, in two more days it's going to be a new month.

I worked in an insurance agent's office for two months. It completely changed my understanding of the words; day, week and month.

My younger brother got a BSc from Waterloo. He's working in computer support for bank now. I went to Wilfrid Laurier for a year, just down the street from UofW. I got a degree in something from somewhere. I forget when.

I don't think I have any formal training in anything. Like with fractals, I usually just pick up things that interest me and learn what I need to know in order to do get things done.

I wrote a tutorial on Sterlingware 1.7, but that was just after 3 intense months of using it everyday and then showing people how to do what I did.

Right now I'm working with Inkblot Kaos. It's sort of an oldish program, but it does wonderful coloring and has a formula parser, so the possibilities are endless.

Xaos, the windows port from Linux is another favorite. It has an absolutely amazing random coloring algorithm. I have never seen random coloring work so well. Push a button... instant Monet. Sometimes you have to push the button a few times.

Programmers empower us wee little people. We ought to have a Programmer's Day, just like Fathers and Mothers day!

7/30/2006 6:03 PM

Blogger peapodgrrl said...

Hey Philip,

Nice to "meet" ya. No formal training here, either. :)

I do like the visual of the "wriggling cat stretching in the sun." If you post more art, I'm sure you will ultimately wriggle some more. ;)

7/30/2006 7:55 PM

Blogger Damien Jones said...

Okay, I can hear you all groaning... who let him in here...

I promise, I was invited. I also promise not to be too obnoxious.

Those of you posting here probably know a bit about me, but random visitors might not. I was born in England a few decades ago, and I currently live in Orlando, Florida with my new wife.

I first learned about fractals in school, where I got to watch Apple II computers plot them pixel by pixel, agonizingly slowly. Over the years I wrote quite a few programs to explore them myself; the last one I wrote was JuliaSaver, which was more for fun than a serious exploration toy. I've found it's more fun to use the tools others have written, because although I am a programmer by trade, I'd rather be using fractal tools to make art than creating the tools and not having any time left to use them.

I don't have formal training in anything--I dropped out of college when I was 17--and I've had to learn a lot of what I know on my own. Good thing I like to read, and can do it quickly. I've been eking out a living as a software developer ever since.

I've done a few things related to the fractal community. Erm, I run the (some would say notorious) web site, and I host a few others. I'm the administrator for the Ultra Fractal mailing list, although that doesn't take much work. I've helped run a few fractal art contests (archived at And occasionally I've had exhibitions of my fractal art; sometimes I even manage to sell a print or two.

The rest, you'll probably figure out on your own. (smile)

7/30/2006 9:08 PM

Blogger cruelanimal said...

In a nutshell…

I grew up in South Dakota -- a world of prairie and sky. I read a lot as a kid. Probably too much. My eyes are shot. My brain sometimes hurts.

I spent years and years in different colleges -- in Iowa, Arkansas, and Ohio -- where I picked up several advanced degrees in literature and creative writing. I now teach those subjects at the second largest university in Arkansas. Not the Razorbacks one.

As much as I love writing, I always wanted to be a painter. I've had no formal training in art -- but I did try to get some. When I was an undergraduate, a painting professor told me to drop his class -- gently explaining I'd never pass the course because I "had no talent." And he was probably right (and some people still believe he was extremely astute, if not a prophet). The smell of the cleaners and chemicals made me sick, and I could never make the tools do what I wanted. I always felt like I was stabbing at the canvas with chubby chopsticks. Nothing looked like it should -- like I envisioned it. I gave up...

...until decades years later when I got a computer and stumbled on to fractals. They put light in my eyes. Slowly, with patience and practice, new and different tools began to make sense, and I found I could often manipulate generators and paint programs to approximate the pictures I saw in my head. The computers became my studios. The fractal programmers -- and their software -- were my Muse.

But the greatest gift came from various friends I’ve met because of fractals -- friends who encouraged me keep flailing away and to work up the nerve to make my work public.

And now other people’s brains sometimes hurt.

7/31/2006 3:43 AM

Blogger Philip Northover said...

Hi Mindy, likewise! Looking forward to seeing your art posts too. :-)

7/31/2006 12:01 PM

Blogger David Makin said...

Hi all - just to introduce myself as Mindy suggested:

I am David Makin, a 44 year old computer programmer living in North Wales, educated to "A" level in the sciences but with no formal education in Art or truly fractal maths.
I was introduced to fractals by the well known "Fractint" software when I downloaded it from the Internet in 1999 when I had some free time.
Since then I've read quite a lot about fractals and wrote my own 32-bit DOS fractal software "MMFrac" but gave up developing that when I realised how far I had to go to catch up to Frederik Slijkerman's excellent Ultrafractal software.
For the last 7 years or so I've been using Ultrafractal to create Fractal Art and to develop formulas and colourings to help do so.
I'm currently developing software for mobile devices (PPCs and Smartphones) in my day job and at this moment spending my spare time working on various 3D fractal formulas with animation in mind.
Like Damien (and others blogging probably) I have made a little money from my Fractal Art having sold quite a few prints and had my work used in magazines, on a book cover, on a CD cover and as a company logo.
One of my goals is to be able to make my profession Fractal Artist and my hobby Computer Programmer rather than vice-versa !
I'm getting closer to this aim as recently I'm starting to get some exposure in the real-world as well as online. However as some reading will know it's not that easy due to many folks being either completely ignorant of Fractal Art or the sort who consider that anything "digital" cannot be considered as "Fine Art". In both cases I think a little education is the order of the day which is why I heartily approve of such events as the ICM 2006 Benoit Mandelbrot Fractal Art contest. I fervently hope that one or more annual International Fractal Art contests will appear in future - ideally asociated with real-world galleries rather than just online.

7/31/2006 6:51 PM

Blogger J Parke said...

I'm 46 too. ~1960 must have been a good year for fractal-artists-to-be.

I first saw a fractal in one of those mid 1990's years -- an inkjet print of an image found by my boss's daughter who thought I would be intrigued with the shapes and colors (I was). It wasn't until 1997 when I got a modem and ventured onto the internet that I started actually exploring and learning about fractals.

I downloaded FractInt, joined the newly-formed fractal-art mailing list, and searched everywhere for images and information about fractals. My ocmputer at the time was so slow that I didn't do much creating of my own, but I spent lots of time looking at every fractal gallery and image I could find online.

When I finally got a faster computer, I was all set to start creating when I discovered that FractInt wasn't compatible with my new video card. Foiled again!

I worked with TieraZon2 for several months and then happened to see a request for beta testers for a new program -- Ultra Fractal 2. I joined the original beta team and have stayed with UF ever since because I still haven't run out of ideas or inspiration.

The teacher in me (teaching ballet is my profession) spilled over into fractals and I found myself writing helpful emails that turned into informal tutorials that inspired a request to write the official UF Help file tutorials, and most recently, I've written and am teaching a three-part online course on UF at the Visual Arts Academy.

Although UF is still my software of choice, I really enjoy seeing the diversity of images created with other programs -- particularly by artists who've taken the time to go beyond the program's (or formula's) default settings to create and develop new techniques and styles.


7/31/2006 10:04 PM

Blogger Panny said...


Thanks, Mindy, for the hug! I'm Panny Brawley - and I've come late to the party. Thanks to Terry & Tim for the invite, and it seems that (soon I'll be up and running (or stumbling, as the case may be).

I found fractals in late 2001. I started with the freeware program "Fractal Explorer", and then had a jaunt through Sterlingware and Tierazon before taking the leap to UF (and the later leap of faith into Xenodream).

The only formal training I've had in fractaling is from Janet's excellent UF classes... and I'm still reeling over the immense power of the program and everything I did NOT know:)

I'm married, no kids, unless you want to include a hapless dog and an old cat - and split my time between our home in South Carolina and a tiny cabin in extreme North Georgia (where the weather is nice, and the internet connection is as slow as molasses).

I am also co-editor (along with Linda Allison) of the oft discussed and much maligned Fractal Universe® Calendar. "What? You love each and every final selection?" Well, thank yew, thank yew very much *smile*.

As I'm sure Damien can attest, things like the ICM exhibition and the Calendar are simply *the* thing for developing a thick skin:)

I look very forward to being a part of this blog - as Minnie Pearl
would say, "I'm jest so proud to be here!"


8/02/2006 3:03 PM

Blogger Kerry Mitchell said...

Hi all, Kerry here.

I'm 45, the son of an artist, an engineer by training and currently working as an educator in Phoenix, AZ.

I came to fractals in 1985 through the famous Scientific American article about the Mandelbrot set. I've always been intrigued with creating geometric images and fractal art has given me the opportunity to do so, using the computer to manipulate line like my pencil never could.

I'm the administrator of the Ultra Fractal formula database and teach a couple of courses on writing formulas in UF at the Visual Arts Academy. I've been fortunate enough to have shown my work publicly in galleries and museums, published a few pieces in books and calendars, sold a few pieces, and published a few articles about the art of math.

My artistic interests run beyond typical fractals into the wider area of algorithmic art, operationally defined as, "anything that I can create in Ultra Fractal." :-)

8/02/2006 5:38 PM

Blogger peapodgrrl said...

Welcome Kerry, Janet, Damien, Panny :) Thanks for jumping into this thread. I thought it would be nice to get to know one another and have a little background.

How funny that a few of us are the same age. Yep, '60 must have been a good year from us Mandelbrats. ;)

Janet, I've been a fan of your work for a long time. You're a true artist in my opinion---your work goes way behind the status quo and it is evident in all of your pieces. So nice to "meet" you. But there are many here I can say that about as well---this place has attracted the creme de la creme of artistic talent in the frack community. :)

Hi Panny dear. :) How are you enjoying your house? Send me pix. :)

Hi Damien, I've read many of your posts on the groups or boards through the years and never once found you obnoxious. Knowledgeable, yes...obnoxious, no. :)

Welcome, Kerry. So nice to meet you as well :)

I'm probably one of the few here who won't go near UF. It's crazy, but the infinite choices make my mind explode, and stop me from delving further into what I am doing because I am obsessing about the gazillion choices I have and could be playing with. Probably some mild form of brainrot. That, and the fact that when it comes to color, nothing can touch Steve Ferguson's programs, and since I do most of my work in Photoshop and not the generator, it's a moot point for me. :)

So nice to meet y'all.


8/03/2006 11:11 AM

Blogger Garth Thornton said...

Most of you will know me as the creator of XenoDream. I'm 45 too and live in Wellington, New Zealand with a sea view from every window, which is only partly responsible for software delays. I started programming fractal terrain generators on an Amiga in 1986, and exploring 2D IFS fractals in 1988. Then I took a break until PC's got fast enough to consider 3D.

My interest in fractals has been mainly as a means to an end, to make new things possible (or easier) in SF, fantasy and surrealist art. So my focus is on 3D real space, and IFS and L-systems in particular. Although I've hardly ever tried using programs that do complex plane iteration, I will have some thoughts to share that relate to them.

Congratulations to Terry and Tim for getting so many programmers as well as prominent formula writers and artists in one forum. It has a lot of potential.

8/03/2006 10:35 PM

Blogger J Parke said...

Thank you, Mindy, for your kind words! And I agree that there is an awesome group assembled here -- many of whom have been instrumental in helping shape the fractal world into its present state. I wonder where we'll go from here...

8/04/2006 7:31 AM

Blogger sschmalzel said...

Hi everyone,

Uhh oh…let me hurry and get this posted before I get another year older. So far I think I may be the oldest that is admitting my age ;) I’m 48. Lived most of my life in the southeastern area of Michigan, spent a short time in Colorado Springs, Co. and miss hiking in the mountains there. I have 2 grown children (a son and daughter) and 4 grandsons. Also, 1 lazy puff of fur…a cat named Daisy (also known as furry~princess II).

When I got my first computer, my sister encouraged me to download Terragen. I began posting some of my those images to a small web community gallery (TCR) where I first found fractal art being posted. I liked the abstract images so much I had to give it a try. That must have been back in 2001. I found Doug Harrington’s website and his fractal generator list page. So I downloaded Tiera-zon from links there and began playing. Eventually, I tried and liked UF and spend much of my time with that and also Apophysis (2.02).


8/04/2006 9:58 AM

Blogger Mary Thornton said...

Hi Y'all!

I am so thrilled to find this blog with so many serious fractal folks. I just joined today and would like to introduce myself.
My name is Mary Thornton,and no I am not related to Garth. :)

I am 51, married with 3, (almost grown, yeah!) children: one is in college and the other two are in highschool. I have a BS degree in Biology and have dabbled in nature photography. I am a substitute teacher by profession. I grew up as the artistally challenged one in a family of artists, and I went hog wild when I recieved a Spirograph one Christmas. I used up all the paper that came with it in one week. I have always loved the patterns and colors found in nature, especially flowers, butterflies and birds. My mother says that I have always been an artist, but I have just now found my medium. Hmm, I am still not convinced. I just know I have never had an artistic outlet until now, and the feeling is sheer joy.

I discovered fractals in 2003 and it was love at first sight and I was searching the internet constantly for new fractal images. I started out with Fractal Explorer and then I finally discovered that the ones I liked the best were made with a program called Ultra Fractal. I downloaded the program and started playing. I never in my wildest dreams thought I could actually make something as wonderful as some of the art I had seen. The program seemed so hard to learn, but I was determined to learn.

I love trying all the different parameters in the formuals. In fact, (sorry Mindy) the more parameters, the better. I feel like a kid in a candy store when I get ahold of a new ucl or ufm with a zillion parameters to change. I feel like I have just scratched the surface of UF, and I am learning new things all the time. I have taken Janet's UF classes (the last one may have to wait a while) and I highly recommend them.

I too have posted at Renderosity and DeviantArt. I see DA as being the place to get the most artistic exposure and gain new converts to Fractal Art. I find so many youngsters eager to learn about fractal art there.

I will have less time to work on fractal art in the near future since school is getting ready to start here and I already have a long term sub position set up. I am also going for my teaching certificate and will have to spend a lot of time studying. Creating fractal art is the most relaxing thing for me these days, so I will still create art when time permits.

I am promoting fractal art at the local schools. I have gotten the art teachers at the local middle school to download Fractal Explorer for the kids to play with and they love it. I will be working at the high school more this year and hopefully start teaching fulltime when I get my certificate. I will be filling my classroom with fractal art!

8/10/2006 3:19 PM

Blogger Philip Northover said...

Welcome Mary! Only just noticed your post now. It'd be nice if blogger had some kind of notify option for when new posts appear.

8/20/2006 11:57 AM


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