Whether a spider’s web or the striated rhythms in the bark on a tree, we find and satiate ourselves with patterns in nature. We replicate them, we deconstruct them, and we discover them in our works from rugs and blankets to jewelry and ceramics to paintings. The wonder of painting can be found in how we discover patterns within patterns like diving into a 3 way mirror. Even our gestures and materials suggest new patterns.
In art we discover how intended patterns reveal suggestive accidental patterns, how positive shapes reveal negative shapes. In the early 1600s artists of the Mughal empire plotted out their small works making flattened shapes of flora and fauna They allowed the negative adjacent space to create rhythmic designs echoing the intended shapes of the flora and fauna. The image ran from symbolic content to decorative surface.
Example 1 provides an example. Notice the negative shapes and their rhyming with the positive shapes. Notice that animals and flora share postures and scale sizes as well as the negative shapes. The image is a flattened map of interweaving forms which flips in our brain to become a dance of animals, flora and interlocking forms.
While painting I realize how indebted I am to the decorative schema of the Mughal artists, or the decorations on the sides of ancient craters or Native American ceramic patterns. In making a painting If find this intertwining of vegetable forms with rhythmic abstract patterns can be coaxed into an illusion which refers back to the multicultural history of decorative patterns. I find the chaotic patterns of interlaced flora in a meadow offers an opportunity for beginning a painting with patterns. Here is a subject which has one foot in illusionism and one in flat patterns. Example 2 presents a photograph of a November meadow alongside my initial painting. The painting aims at building both patterns and ambiguous information. Example 3 presents the painting after further development. Example 4 is another version of the same image but, stretched into a vertical (oil on paper). This was a demonstration piece from the Art of the Carolinas this month.
The image still wanted greater design simplicity, more motion (vitality), and a more singularly coherent design. I began again in oil on anodized aluminum, 24×24. The sensation of leaves attracted toward the ground plane with a vertical sense of motion served as motivation. Example 5. presents the first step before greater edge clarification and then later edge obfuscation as seen in example 6.
Each version offers its own different set of negative/positive relationships. Blurring them was my strategy to unify the surface.
In the next sequence I begin with a recent painting that has failed to stir me, an oil on brushed gold anodized aluminum 48×48, example 7. Example 8 presents the next step (step one) which was to cover and reveal parts of example 7 as I superimposed another natural patterned image. Example 9 presents step two. It’s as far as I gone to date ( as of today). My process is to blur and reveal, then repeat. I find rhyming flora shapes in the interstitial spaces as well as the definitive spaces (leaf shapes). Even the larger light area above is meant as a mirrored counterpoint to the darker blue area below. Macro and micro shapes look for correlates in negative and positive shapes.
Finally, I noticed the Mughal painting relied on curves and circular forms to carry a harmonic rhythm through the painting. When I tried to find a similar circular set of rhythms I found I was brought back to trying another water circle painting but now with a greater awareness of the Mughal precedent. For me this meant I would try to have layers of interlocking shapes, some with broken horizontal intentions and some with broken circular intentions.