Painter of Code

I create my work using custom software I've programmed from scratch to meet my vision. Code has become a sketchbook for me; an essential part of my practice and craft, allowing me to test visual ideas with algorithms, rather than pencil on paper. "I made my own Photoshop except it's better than Photoshop because Photoshop can't do the things I can code," best explains the unique and grand scale of my programming project to the uninitiated. The works are infinitely scalable, based entirely in math, and preserved in a format of my invention. Each work will be able to transform to meet the presentational technologies of the future. Having developed my program for 5+ years, it has matured into an extension of myself, supercharging my human ability to express and communicate my artistic visions. Subject matter is derived from found and self authored photography. I'm interested in exploring historical aesthetics with code; trying to do with geometry what the great painters did with oils.

A Chicago born, gallery exhibited artist in his early and mid twenties, Kane left the art world for a decade to work as a web developer in the Pacific Northwest. It was there that he taught himself programming, gained life experience, and made career choices centered around creating, at a future date, the work he's currently devoted. Kane began as a painter of oils to become a painter of code.

Self Portrait, 2018

My Art Practice

Vintage Photo Collection and Online Archives

My extensive photo collection includes photos from the dawn of photography through the present day. I collect photos that strike a strong resonance with me on a psychological or visceral dimension. In addition to hounding antique dealers and flea markets, I've also made a habit of exploring online image archives. When I began serious work as an artist in the early 2000's, I visited libraries to access photo collections. Now, so much of these are available online. But nothing online can equate the smell and touch of a vintage photograph.

Found black and white photography meets imagined color

Original postcard and color sketch

Finished artwork emerges from interactions with custom software

An artwork of mine is the result of several hours of interacting with my program, making artistic choices from start to finish. Sometimes I spend an entire day with a piece. In more recent complex work, I've spent entire days of an entire week. I decide how to leverage the hundreds of tools I've created from the many thousands of hours I've spent coding. As I build out more to my software, I build out more posibilities for my future artistic creations.

An aesthetic developed in traditional studio materials moves ahead via coding.

“So his fate forgave the time he spent to hesitate”
2005 | 30″ x 20″ | acrylic paint, crayon, ink, pencils, resin on panel
"What Child Is This"
2017 | digital painting

In 2005, I rendered each element in its own way. Each piece of a painting seems to tell me their appropriate style. To the left, notice how the pink seat cushions are rendered with pencil, the floor and background rendered with acrylic paint and ink washes, and the face rendered with halftone. This aesthetic has been carried over from my traditional studio work into my digital work. Whereas previously it was different material, it is now a different combination of algorithms I've written.


Marks as Metaphor

color sketch detail
final image detail

I see colors over black and white in my mind's eye. My color sketches are laid down with urgency; a frantic dissemination of acrylics, gel pens, crayons, and pencils over a black and white print on paper. The marks I make are metaphors for more complex patterns and structures that will take shape in later work. Indeed, the same transformation occurs with the original photograph and even with my color choices. Everything becomes an opportunity for transformation from simple to complex. Much of my coding has been done to create algorithms that support this idea.

How to code what's done by hand?

"A Past Possession"
2016 | 12" x 16" | acrylic on board
2017 | 48″ x 32″ | vector digital art on custom software programmed by the artist

A great challenge is finding creative ways to achieve with code what is so easily done by hand. To the left is an acrylic painting I did several months prior to first attempting to create works of art with my program.

Tracing the outline of a shape by hand is easy. Doing this with code is difficult-- but not impossible. I developed a shape tracing algorithm after many failed attempts over the years. It's my belief that anything done by hand can be achieved with code.

Infinitely Scalable Paintings

"“Should old acquaintance be forgot (After Atelier Manasse)”
2017 | 48″ x 32″ | vector digital art on custom software programmed by the artist
Detail of eye

One of the chief requirements in setting out on making art with code was that my work would be infinitely scalable; that everything I create be able to be boiled down to simple math. As such, the artworks I create are saved in a custom format. The only limit to the size of an uncompressed image I create are the same restrictions placed on everyone.

Gigapixel Paintings

My work is created with the intent of being large oversized prints in a cavernous space, allowing viewers to approach from afar and experience how the image falls away into the parts and pieces that make up the larger work. In order to simulate this experience online, I create videos and feature my paintings as navigable Google Maps on my website.

Infinity Paintings

Microscopic details emerge.

This was shown at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago as part of F00TW3RK.

My Coding Practice

It is my goal to express my understanding of art and design through a series of algorithms that becomes the foundation of creating my expressive art. Every morning for the past 4 years, I have woken up and gotten to work coding-- often creating new tools, but never without having a particular desire in mind.

Traditional Styles

Disecting complex techniques and color theories into algorithms. All studies below are made with my program.

Cross Hatch Drawing

Procedural cross hatching. Black and white lines over gray background.


Digital Study. Algorithms that use impressionist color theories and brush stroke directions.

Stipple Drawing

Digital Study. Note the human error quality of spacing

Painterly Impasto

Digital Study. Colors blend well viewed from afar


I create algorithms around replicating traditional media, things from nature, new digital tools, and just about anything that I come across that strikes me as a challenge.

Digital Graphite

Digital Study. Magnified, the particles are revealed to be simple shapes.

Digital Clouds

Digital Study. Developed after studying cell growth and replication

Ink Splatter / Spray Paint

Digital Study. What toolset would be complete without it?

Paint Roller

Digital Study. Blends paint from round roller onto a wet surface.

Wet & Dry Brushes

Digital Study. Simulates wet and dry brush techniques, dynamically making surface wet or dry, as well.

Artist Inspired

A lifelong student of museums, I often find myself walking galleries, studying exhibits and thinking about the art as mathematical equations. Challenging myself to write algorithms based on other artists not only makes me a better, more creatively thinking coder, but I also sometimes end up with a tool I'll use.

Sol Lewitt

Digital Study. Sol Lewitt inspired hatching tool
Sol LeWitt, detail
"All Single, Double, Triple, and Quadruple Combinations of Lines in Four Directions One-, Two-, Three- and Four-Part Combinations", 1969

Keith Haring

Digital Study. Lines following contours of neighbors. No touching!
Keith Haring
Untitled, 1984

Moholy Nagy

Digital Study. Moholy Nagy inspired orthographic shape tool.
Moholy Nagy
"Composition Z-VIII", 1924

Experimental Coding

A great benefit to becoming a lifelong coder is that previous algorithms can be leveraged with others, creating an opportunity for unexplored creativity.

Line Contours

Digital Study. Inset line contours

Rectangle Hatching

Digital Study. Additive and reductive drawing to simulate traditional drawing done with charcoal and eraser.

CMYK Patterns

Digital Study. Symmetrical patterns corresponding to CMYK Values.