This is a slightly off-angle photograph of a painting I did in the summer of 1981:
When I started it I had a simple formal problem in mind, to do a painting that used a full range of colors. Id been doing paintings that leaned toward blues and reds and paintings that leaned toward blues and greens, but none that had all three in prominent use. That was the problem I started with in that painting. I approached it right off the bat by painting that rainbow arc of color patches across the top and right side. I then filled in the rest with appropriate imagery. Note the three worlds separated by the squid's tentacles: the yellow sky with the bluish sun, the forest with blue sky and stream, and the underwater scene with the strange ET-like face.
A couple years later I got a Macintosh and decided to realize that same image in the very limited medium of MacPaint, which gave me only white dots and black dots, no grays, much less color. Here's the final image:
Obviously I'd decided to replace color with texture. Each of the cells in the arch now had a distinctly different kind of texture, each representing different aspects of the world. I built the image in sections. I started by roughing out the whole composition:
Then I did some crude fills to begin getting some sense of how it would "flesh-out."
Then I began doing some more sophisticated work in the various panels. I'd prepare each panel in a separate file and then paste it into main image. Working in MacPaint was awkward as you could only have one file open at a time and the files were stored on three and a quarter inch floppies, so that mean a lot of whirring and spinning each time you closed one file and opened another.
Now I fill in the panels in the arch. Number them from one through nine starting at the upper left: 1 and 2 are designs, albeit somewhat different, 3 contains the equation "E=mc^2", 4 is a highly stylized depiction of columnar organization in the cerebral cortex, 5 is a honeycomb, 6 is woodgrain, 7 is a moire pattern, 8 is a design that looks vaguely like a printed circuit, and 9 says "the intersection of the worlds."
Now it's all filled in.
The last thing was the frame, which you see in the first MacPaint image up at the top. I derived the patterning in the frame from the picture itself.