At midlife I went back to school to pursue degree in science, experimental psychology in visual perception. To a lot of people that seemed like a radical change but I loved research and the lab. It didn’t seem that different from the studio in many ways. In the studio I had often tried to understand how the viewer’s brain would process what I was putting on the canvas. I kept thinking that if I could understand how vision works, how the brain constructs images, that there might be ways to exploit that information to create a richer pictorial experience. The lab gave me a complementary methodology to explore these questions.

This is an article of mine from a special Issue of the Journal, Perception, called "Why cast shadows are expendable: Insensitivity of human observers and the inherent ambiguity of cast shadows in pictorial art." It investigates how shadows are perceived in motion versus static media and how that might affect the choices artists make in rendering shadows.

Shadow Perception

This paper, Visual Intelligence: Bridging the Gap from Visual Literacy to Visual Reasoning, was one I wrote with my colleague, Greg Turner-Rahman for a presentation at the Inter-Disciplinary First Global Conference, Mansfield College, Oxford. It argues for moving beyond visual literacy to one where students hone their visual reasoning skills.

Visual Reasoning: Oxford Presentation

I designed and taught a lecture/studio course at the University of Idaho called Visual Perception & Drawing. During lecture, students learned the cognitive neuroscience behind visual perception. In the studio they then had to apply that knowledge and keep track of all the perceptual phenomena they had experimented with to share during critique.

Visual Perception & Drawing Course

As part of my work at the Center for Teaching, Learning, & Technology at Washington State University, I started a series of lunchtime presentation/discussions to explore strategies for enhancing visual spatial reasoning skills in multiple domains. These were surprisingly well-attended. I archived the presentations in a blog.

Using Vision to Think Brown Bag Presentations

In this a paper I proposed that the methodologies of art and vision science could be merged to create a system of exploration that would use image production to investigate avenues for empirical research in human vision. Fractal analysis of Jackson Pollock’s work combined with cycloid and biological motion were used as the basis for my argument.

Art as Vision Science

As a result of my peer reviews for the shadow perception article (above), I was invited to a week-long interdisciplinary "school" exploring questions around the creation and interpretation of scientific images. Other attendees were scientists, philosophers of science, and visual artists who gathered at a biological station in Roscoff, France.

The Cognitive Foundations of Scientific Imagery