Monthly Archives: January 2014


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For different people it is different things. For me it is about ideas. The superficial surface reality that cameras can record all too well has never interested many artists. The prehistoric cave painters went beyond it right at the beginning. Indeed interesting photography work did as well. When you look at art history I believe you can see very little of what people now call realism. “But it looks so real.” If it illusion you want, I say, go to magician.

People like Monet, Van Gogh and Corot were interested in representing reality, but at a level that truly communicated. The language of the eye is only as sophisticated as the language of the brain. Why did so many people hate impressionism at the beginning? It might be that their eyes had not caught up to the eyes and brains of the artists. This is not to say the viewer needs to be an art scholar, but the viewer should not have shades and shutters on their perceptions. When those shutters are open to new ideas, interest may well flood in.

Pre-judging art has always been a problem. How many times have you heard someone say, “I don’t go for that modern art.” Ask them to name a modern artist and they will say, “That guy that splattered paint, you can’t tell me that is art.”

No, we can’t tell you. Because you won’t listen.  Closed minds=closed eyes. It is a shame because there is such a wonderful rich history of art to explore.

Perhaps the biggest misconception is that if you like modern art (that is contemporary art being produced today) you will have to accept all of it. Of course that isn’t true. It brings to mind some people in my area who say to me, “You don’t know the Amish like I do, they aren’t what they say they are.” This means they know of one or two instances in which an Amish person has done something bad. Now, in their minds all Amish were alike to begin with, so if one breaks the law, all are tarnished.

People apply this logic  to art. If you don’t like Jackson Pollock’s work you can still look at Picasso. If you don’t like either one of these artists you might still like David Hockney. Problem is, a lot of people aren’t going to go on and really look at Hockney or others with an open mind, the door was closed back there with Pollock.

An artist friend of mind told me, “I’m kind of in to acceptance.” Not a bad way to go. Well, does that mean I should keep an open mind when it comers to representational art that I don’t care for? Absolutely.


Water is the only material (solids, liquids, gases) that, when in a solid state (ice) floats that material on its liquid state. If that were not so life in much of the water would be impossible. By the way, under the water grow many varieties of grasses, grasses are the most prolific kinds of botanical life on earth.

Most of the planet, most of our bodies are composed of water. Because of the structure of water, if you are care, you can overfill a glass a little and observe the bulge. The  bulge is, essentially, a geodesic dome.

I am interested in the stuff we ignore, walking across grass….if you cut a blade of grass it can regenerate. Air, you can’t see it, you take it for granted.  Without it you die. Without it there is no water. Looking at water is an interesting  exercise. It is constantly changing, like a Lava light for people who still read books. It is thought-provoking, it is full of life and attracts life. It is a visual paradox and  an amazing thing to see. It includes the sky. If you haven’t seen a miracle lately turn off the DVD player.





When I was in high school  a teacher said, “There are no straight lines in nature.” This was a kind of romantic view of growth I guess, the T-square belongs in the engineer’s realm. It might be a little humbling but we are the copy-cats (if we’re smart). What works in nature works with nature. Frank Lloyd Wright’s teacher in Chicago, Frank Sullivan coined the expression, “Form follows function.” In todays computerized world that begins to break down. A phone no longer looks like a handle with a speaker and a receiver at each end. A phone could look like anything.

The devices we use, such as furniture, buildings, vehicles will be effected by tech as well, they always have been. But let us not throw Mr. Sullivan’s ideas away. They are still quite valid.

The geometry you see in a crystal is a direct reflection of its molecular make up. You are seeing its internal structure at a macro scale. The geodesic dome is based on the molecular structure of water.




All of the systems I have displayed are actually combinations of other designs, but somewhat subtle in their ways of combining, at least visually. The truth is none of these major systems are just arches, meanders, etc. They are all very complex. For example a meander in the ridges of sand in the desert has a relationship with all of the other meanders and the surface upon which they are created. The changes in the temperature and wind  constantly shift and move the meanders. Or are they really flowing arches? Is it a coincidence this is home to a Sidewinder?

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Radiating lines arranged in an arch (as opposed to radiating 360 degrees with a common center. Notice the unnecessary keystone at the top of the window arch. Many times something that was once functional becomes a decorative element.

RAD 27 RAD 26Here are two ways flowers (radials) , are supported.

The one on the left supports with a branching system, the one on the right with a meandering stem.

(Below) a leaf has radiating veins that go on to branch.


There is no end to the combinations of basic design systems.  Wonders occur in spite of our blindness. We need to see, not just look. Seeing is more than meets the eye.


Utility brings to mind clunky utility vehicles, ungraceful utility lines on the landscape  or perhaps a utility belt brimming with tools.  A canoe shaped like a seed pod slices through the water. The water is split at the prow and allowed to slip back into place at the stern, creating very little wake. This makes for a quiet, efficient passage. The muscles in out arms and legs are somewhat spindle shapes, the bear and carry weight. The spindle shapes one can see at a quarry, for lifting stone carry the same function. Spindle make ideal packets for some seeds, the are flattened to carry them envelope style I many cases. The spindle shape can be reinforced with radiating ridges or raised edges.

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If an object has a center radiating arms will reinforce the edges and body of the form. Spokes in a wheel, membranes in an orange, starfish, all kinds of plants and animals use this structure and variations of it.

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The attractive petals on a flower lead the insects and birds into the center. The beauty is of a very practical kind. Without it the species would not survive. Birds and especially insects see colors in flowers we do not see.


A strange fish discovered deep within the ocean  pops up in the news. Many people wonder at this oddity of nature. Actually the fish is a part of the variety that is well within the mainstream of nature, they are just rarely observed. When you see an ice formation like the one below, be assured you may never see it again, but also know that given the same conditions it will be there again. The point I would like to make is this: things arise in nature because they have to. If the conditions are right to form stone arches, they have to be there. Natural Bridge State Park in Kentucky has over one hundred of them. You can view cliffs where they have not yet formed.  The conditions are perfect for that particular “oddity.”  The ice formations below are there because the temperature, wind, water, shape of the surroundings and other factors dictated there would arise.

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Birds fly in a “V” formation because it works better aerodynamically for them. But when they are just moving around in small groups they still display an order. If it works in nature it works because nature is extremely well-organized.


Order then, is the way things work and there is great beauty in that. It will be there whether you bother to look or not. We should try not to miss the wonders around us. The ice formation picture was taken in an old farm ditch on a freezing day.   The wonderful displays of the natural world do not have spotlights, trumpets or red carpets. The true stars of the ongoing spectacular are hidden, quiet and amazing.



Spirals, like all designs in nature are things of beauty. The variations seem endless. From a galaxy to the water going down the drain, spirals display diminishing and spreading growth. Our very DNA, the double helix, is a spiral variation, it determines who we are. Below are a few examples.

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SPI 2 - CopyAbove: Spiral combined with arches

SPI 4 - CopyAbove is a mixing blade for glazes. The spiral configuration is very efficient.

SPI 9 - CopyThis shell displays a beautiful spiral with a supporting radiating pattern.


A flowing line, whether in water, textiles, sand or any other material is a calming line. They show up in plastic screens in fast food places or in rugs in the airport. These are places where people wait and a set of flowing lines that catches their eyes does have a calming effect.

When wind and water, erosion  or even animals tracks  impact the earth, flowing meandering lines occur.  Meandering curtains of light and color occur in light in the aura borealis. There is something fundamental in the meander that communicates something of the sprite. On of the universal icons of what “beauty” is has been identified as a road, path, trail, river or something like it that flows off into the distance.

MEA 9 - CopyAirport carpeting

          (below)   Fast food waiting area and a foam mattress cover

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Note shadows on upper left, they indicate meanders in the land surface. The ditch was once straight, it now meanders due to water flowing through it. On each side are cow trails, also meanders. The most efficient way for a three-dimensional animal to move across a three-dimensional surface is not a straight line. We call this a “beautiful solution.”