Gary Peterson - Fine Artist

Gary Peterson

Rochester Hills, MI - United States








Gary Peterson

Rochester Hills, MI - United States

Gary Peterson - Fine Artist

Member Since:

April 11th, 2008







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About Gary Peterson

I studied architecture and spent years designing retail interiors, but I'm a fine-artist at heart practiced in many traditional media (oils, acrylics, watercolor, etc.) and doing a lot of pen and ink drawings lately.

My art cards are available at The Detroit Institute of Arts and one of my drawings was recently auctioned at Cranbrook Academy of Art.

I founded The Peterson Institute of Arts & Sciences Research Laboratory and Gift Shop where I am Dean of Behavioral Sciences, intellectual handyman and tourguide.

I'm also a musician, acoustic guitar builder, published author and humor scene investigator. I think good art should connect the dots for you.

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Hand, Eye, Brain

August 6th, 2015

Hand, Eye, Brain: The Neuroscience of Blind Contour Drawing As an artist/scientist, I've often practiced the following exercise: I draw a picture of some object while looking only at that target object and not at the pen hand or the drawing itself... 

Paint Creek Trail

August 6th, 2015

The Paint Creek Trail near my home was a railroad bed until the 1980s when it was repurposed for hiking, bicycling, fishing, etc. I like to walk (ride, jog, hop, skip) along the trail year round, but one day--October 1st, a pleasant if partly cloudy ... 


August 6th, 2015

My wife snapped the fox-chasing-squirrel photo on which I based the background of this painting, Buck. I'd watched that fox stalk the squirrel before; sat still at a distance to see if said predator would catch his lunch. But, per usual, as soon as s... 

Just Published... The Intellectual Handyman On Art A Compilation of Essays by Gary R. Peterson The Intellectual Handyman On Art is a compilation of Gary Peterson essays pertaining to the arts and sciences, mostly. This is his third bo... 

On My Couch In Platos Cave

August 6th, 2015

I had just sat down to read The Matrix and Philosophy when I realized...there are squirrels on my roof. I can't see them, but I can see their shadows on the lawn as I look out of the window on this sunny morning. I'm reminded of Plato's Cave: the one... 

Music Art and Aesthetics

August 6th, 2015

In the realm of aesthetics, music spans the gap between matter and metaphysics. Music is an aesthetic model for all forms of art. Music is all math and vibes. It doesn’t inform us like words or pictures do. Its “language” is a balancing act of sou... 

Back in the 80s, artist Richard Prince took a picture of a picture of the Marlboro Man and sold it as art. The original photo by Jim Krantz was part of an ad campaign to sell cigarettes. Talk about "branding!" What Prince did was liberate a cultural ... 

The Paroxysm of Laughter

August 6th, 2015

It feels good to laugh but laughter is contagious and addictive. Humor should be treated like a controlled substance. After all, it is the leading cause of laughter - real laughter. I'm talking about spontaneous, involuntary spasms of genuine mirth. ... 

Life Is Not A Dream

August 6th, 2015

You can find the story behind the musical composition and artwork for my new song, in the book The Intellectual Handyman On Art from iUniverse. Meanwhile, here are the lyrics: * * * It's not how things look that makes them real But how you ... 

Radda in Chianti

August 6th, 2015

Drawings are like currency in the memory bank. Flipping through my sketchbook, I was transported back to Italy, to a Tuscan hillside village called Radda in Chianti. I'd already drawn a picture of the valley that smelled good from our balcony, so ... 

Sound Seeing

August 6th, 2015

This visual abstraction seems electromagnetic: a bristling force field all centrifugal and kinetic and laughing at gravity too, but is it some galactic spiral like a cosmic pinwheel in 3K soup or is this nebular nooky the nucleus of some organic germ... 

YOUR Art Reviewed

August 6th, 2015

Just a reminder... I like to write about art. Eventually I'll cover every piece here at FAA as the spirit moves me, but that'll take a long time. So I'm taking bribes... I'll write about your art - for a fee. There I said it. $20 per 100 words ... 

I was on TV once

August 6th, 2015

I was on TV once. In the days before Idol, or U-Tube, or - hell, before the Net, I was Artist of the Month at the Troy Library. That included an appearance on a local TV program. After one false start, the taped interview went smoothly. The hos... 

Humor Scene Investigation

August 6th, 2015

I published this book a few years ago. It is a philosophy of humor. Here's an excerpt: Stereograms. This visual trick superimposes two perceptions directly to the brain: humor via incongruent sense data versus a purely mental synthesis. What is... 

The Art World Is Elliptical

August 6th, 2015

The Art World is Elliptical (Click here for full illustration.) An artist interprets objects for the viewer but something always gets lost, added, or changed in translation. Art seldom takes the direct route from object to subject. Distortion... 

Figure-Ground Reversal in the Brain. One thing I always look for in any picture is whether the "figure" swaps light and dark values with the background. I call this effect reverse-gestalt and it lends depth to any image, representational or abstr... 

I could just as easily have been promenading down the Champs d'Elysee in Paris, but nooo. Instead, I dreamed I was in a traffic jam on a freeway in Detroit. I steered my car into the middle lane, around the dimwit who’d been texting while driving, an... 

Your Brain On Fibonacci

August 6th, 2015

My wife and I'd like to retire to New Mexico but first I'll have to sink the spare cash in our gravy boat (think cookie jar) into some get-rich-quick scheme so we can afford to live in the rarified art-o-sphere of Santa Fe if not some alien crash sit... 

On The Surface

August 6th, 2015

On The Surface: Appearance and Reality I was in the library when a picture on the cover of a magazine caught my eye. At first glance, the abstract image looked to me like some kind of strange western landscape inside the magnified view of a semi-p... 

Venice Italy

August 6th, 2015

Definitive Cities just picked up on an article I wrote about Venice a while ago. They posted their own pictures to accompany it on their site but here's one of my quick sketches that I mention in the essay that you can read in my new book: The Intell... 

We went to a fundraiser Saturday night, an auction slash gala event at Cranbrook Academy of Art, that toney boarding school designed by Saarinen & Son for newspaper mogul George Booth about a century ago. My wife teaches at the lower school. We schmo... 

Patent Approved

August 6th, 2015

A while back, I invented a musical percussion instrument for drummers: an accessory that attaches to a high-hat cymbal stand and produces a wooden hands-a-clapping sound. I call it The Blox. After drumming up the interest of a major musical i... 

Flea Market Neurology

August 6th, 2015

Son of Pete Estates abuts the Peterson Institute campus. It's not exactly a gated community, but there's a chain across the road next to my house with a NO DUMPING sign on it. That's where the annual art auction/block party is under way to raise ... 

Reading Kant in Santa Fe

August 6th, 2015

I try to take the right reading material when I go on vacation. I've taken Voltaire to France, Dante to Italy and Steinbeck to California. But my wife and I go to Santa Fe often enough that I'm already up to speed on the Anasazi, Coronado and Georgia... 

About a year ago in my blog ”The Frontrunner and Alsorans” I mentioned a spike in the number of visitor views of my drawing Tacoma Narrows Bridge. The count was then at 5000 – lookers aplenty but no buyers. So I raised the price. Well, I’m not ex... 

A Secret Louvre Affair

August 6th, 2015

I went to the Louvre some time ago, that fancy art museum in Paris. The details are sketchy now but I remember my wife Elizabeth and I walked along Les Tuileries past a giant Ferris wheel and a gold statue of Joan of Arc. Not to be all touristy, we w... 

Remembering My Brother

August 6th, 2015

My Big Brother I guess I was ten or twelve, flying through the air in the cramped cockpit of a Cessna 140 - an old tail-dragger about as wide as a couple of shopping carts - shoulder to shoulder with the pilot: my oldest brother, Dale. The eng... 

The Frontrunner and Alsorans

August 6th, 2015

Not that it's a race, but my pen and ink drawing, Tacoma Narrows Bridge 1940, is the new runaway favorite based on the ticks of my FAA visitor clock: nearly 5000 views now, blowing past the previous frontrunners, American Gothic Revisited and Rainy D... 

The Deposition of Christ

August 6th, 2015

Looking at Raphael's painting, The Deposition of Christ, one can only imagine the preparation he put into that masterpiece: the finely orchestrated chaos of forms and figures depicting the somber entombment. His style was less dramatic than that of M... 

Art and the Optical Device

August 6th, 2015

In this age of conspiracy theories, it’s no surprise that artist David Hockney's book “Secret Knowledge” caused a flap some years ago. In it he purports that many of history’s great painters used optical devices like lenses, mirrors, and primitive ca... 


August 6th, 2015


The funniest part of "The Divine Comedy" is when Barbariccia signals his demons to march by tooting his butt trumpet. Otherwise, the story isn't too amusing. Dante Alighieri's epic poem, written in medieval Italy, chronicles his trip through hell... 

The Old Blue Guitarist

August 6th, 2015

Well, here’s one more thing that I invented, discovered, or developed only to find it’s already been done. In this case it’s the practice of putting visual art into words: making art from art, prose from paint. Sure, writing about art is like dancing... 

Aoccdrnig to Rscheearch

August 6th, 2015

Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a total mses and you can sitll raed it wouth... 

Workroom 1979

August 6th, 2015

This is a photo of one wall o' stuff in my home studio circa 1979. It was actually a detached garage but it had a forced-air gas furnace, a separate tool room with bench and a couple of windows with a quaint view of the back yard. Real cozy. Not seen... 

From the archives

August 6th, 2015

They don't call 'em The Rolling Uglies for nothing. I folked up an old Stone's tune called "Connection." If you want to hear me sing and play a 12-string guitar, then: CLICK HERE (no video). 

American Gothic Retooled

August 6th, 2015

We’re all familiar with painter Grant Wood’s homage to prairie life, posed for by his sister and his dentist, with its distinctive elements like the window on the American Gothic style house in the background (I understand the outhouse has flying but... 

Making Sense of Abstract Art

August 6th, 2015

A recent discussion here at FAA (“Towards Abstraction”) inspired me to formulate the following thoughts and create this piece of abstract art: When the eye sends light signals to the brain, those impulses go through the Lateral Geniculate Nucleii ... 

Color has a dual-personality: It is light and it is pigment. When we see a color, we are seeing the wavelength of light which is not absorbed by that pigment. The eye is most sensitive to yellow-green light but it also makes "warm" colors like red se... 

Henri Cartier-Bresson

August 6th, 2015

It is almost as if Henri Cartier-Bresson could make himself invisible, judging by the way the people in his photographs seem unaffected by - if even aware of - the great French photographer’s presence. His images are completely candid; no posers allo... 

Here are some of my thoughts on a few of the fine artists here at FAA: Kevin Callahan’s acrylic paintings are well-conceived figurative studies, executed with a tight draftsmanship that takes one small step towards abstraction, not unlike like t... 

A Maze In Grace

August 6th, 2015

Like each one of the dozen pen and ink drawings in my DIA Series (Detroit Institute of Arts), this rendition of Sargent's "Madame Poirson" is also a maze. There is a single white path (revealed here in blue) that winds from arrow to arrow through eac... 

Great Moments In...

August 5th, 2015


Amber Burst

February 7th, 2014

I bought a new guitar - a Gibson J-45 Custom "Amber Burst" - and it inspired me to record some new tunes. Hence the title of this limited edition album, a wide-ranging assortment of old pop-tunes and standards, from classical to hillbilly (but mostly... 

New House New Guitar

May 1st, 2013

Here's an indulgent mélange of sights and sounds from in my new home and on my new guitar. One thing is clear--I should update my FAA photo icon  

Thus Spake Garathustra

October 20th, 2011

Art was no longer imitating life but vice versa, so Garathustra chucked it all and moved up north to live in a bat cave. He scrawled pictures of moose and beavers on the walls with wild berries and lead a hungry, horny, but mostly happy life for many... 

Abstraction and Empathy

October 20th, 2011

It doesn’t seem like a hundred years ago that Wilhelm Worringer published Abstraction and Empathy (Abstraktion und Einfühlung). His thesis on the psychology of style is a primer on modernism that has influenced artists from Kandinsky onward. Written ... 

Art connects the intellect with an emotion and makes you feel good - or at least smart. But the intellect is rigid and emotions are unstable - they can flare up and get out of hand. Michelangelo is said to have taken a hammer and wacked a sculpture b... 

I was at the library, watching the geriatrics shuffle in from the rest home next door, when I noticed the new issue of ARTnews (Feb. '11) on the rack. The headline read, "Picasso: Guitar Hero." Turns out, the Museum of Modern Art in New York is ex... 

The Latin Word For Lascivious

September 28th, 2011

In the days of antiquity, before subjective thought discerned objective reality, Bacchus (like Dionysus, the god of wine and revelry) personified the hedonistic traits of human kind. A couple millenia hence, the artist known as Titian helped define t... 

A seasonal adjustment song

February 16th, 2011

When you hear me sing, you'll understand why I'm wearing shades. But the guitar pickin' is good and the pictures are fun.  

Sedona In The Zona

June 30th, 2010

We are touring the mountains and deserts of Arizona, Liz and I. We stayed at a bed and breakfast near Sedona last night. In the morning, we ate waffles and took a hike up Bell Rock. The mountains are named after saddles and coffee pots and stuff. By ... 

Picture Window Rag

May 31st, 2010

I was staring out the window, hearing a tune in my head, so I gets up off the couch and sit on a stool to play that tune on my guitar - a ragtime version of my song called Life Is Not A Dream. There's no singing in this video but I try to put the "me... 

Florence Between The Lines

January 15th, 2010

I had just finished reading that medieval epic Dante's Inferno when these words took hold of my mind: "Ché la diritta via era smarrita" - I had lost the path that does not stray. Like an acid flashback those words turned into an obsession. It wasn't ... 

12-string Duck Video

December 6th, 2009

Well, here's another hey look at me I play the guitar video. This time it's my twelve-string and I end up out near the duck pond behind my house. Too bad it wasn't a month earlier when the trees were in color. This sub-arctic swamp called Michigan lo... 

Art is aesthetic like humor is funny. It's the precarious balance of details that we appreciate. Both art and humor are illusions that often require a suspension of one's beliefs, but sometimes our expectations don't jive with reality. Art happens wh... 

At My Workbench

October 28th, 2009

I never thought I'd buy one of those little pocket video cams but just look at me now, all in the tool room this time and being spontaneous. The "Pipe Wrench Blues" is a nuts & bolts rendition of my tune called "G-string Strut" (recorded by The Nowhe... 

In My Room

October 3rd, 2009

Jazz and art go together, not only in my head but in my living room.  

The Strumstick Blues

September 17th, 2009

I'm still in a musical mode lately, but if anyone's interested...  


July 29th, 2009

I haven't been drawing lately unless you count some concept renderings for a regional developer of upscale shopping malls, so no - no real art. But I've been inventing stuff and industrial design is akin to art, let's call it a second cousin. I'v... 

Flying to Carolina Update

June 19th, 2009

I used to fly a lot in small planes and even a helicopter now and then with my two brothers, both pilots (the oldest flew Hueys in 'Nam). I also did some hang gliding, once into half-gale force winds off of the sand dunes near Lake Michigan with a gr... 

Art in America

April 8th, 2009

Just a quick reminder. Now on newsstands: Art in America magazine has published my Letter to the Editor in the April '09 issue (on page 22). I've always enjoyed reading that esteemed art journal which now includes a regular feature by writer/c... 

I Cut Off My Ear

May 7th, 2008

Well, I did it - and what a bloody mess. I cut off my ear. Hurts like the dickens. That's it wrapped in 100% acid-free cotton rag. I thought my art would create its own buzz, but I am distraught that my Detroit Dozen series of pen & ink drawings -...