Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Nature by Design.

Grapes study 5 February 2011
We live in a world where green is considered the new gold. Climate change is high on the research agenda. The recent catastrophic oil spill disasters and rhino horn poaching (locally), has renewed our interests in all things natural. Preserving our cultural heritage and planet is of paramount importance. Just this evening (Wed 9 Feb 2011) I was watching Aljazeera news and my attention was brought to Latvia's Pulp Fiction - Illegal logging in Latvia and export of forest products to the UK. Follow link to read more about it.
Drawing inspiration from nature has been the design criteria for numerous design competitions, and more importantly, has often been the first learning activity for drawing at art schools all over the world. What follows is a series of drawings, and believe it or not, Photostats onto transparencies, of my ballpoint pen drawings of a pea-pod. This was necessary before the days of computers, Photoshop etc. to reverse designs in the development of patterns. The peapod was to form the inspiration for a boarder tile for my kitchen during the late eighties. Hence the quality of images, especially those showing pattern design and development.
Pea-pod patterns one
Pea-pod patterns two
Chosen design.
Prototype
Slip cast border tile
The Insect World

I have been collecting old engraving books on nature, the illustrations being the most inspirational you can ever hope to find (image above). Every detail is recorded and the quality has fascinated me for years. However recently published books such as Nature Design has brought the entire history, science and design and development into far greater perspective. Contemporary designers go far beyond the obvious (styling etc.), to embrace every aspect of nature in their design development thinking.

Beetle - Insect World (see book above)
John Ruskin, Stones of Venice cited in Nature Design.
Nature has been a constant source of inspiration in the design of the human environment, but one cannot help notice that the relationship between nature and the various design disciplines has in recent years intensified. The ‘model of nature,’ with its forms and structures, and organizing principals, does not only inspire the widest range of concepts and design processes, but also can be expressed in a broad spectrum of forms and functions. Nature Design refers to this phenomenon and presents an international selection of objects and projects from the fields of design, architecture, landscape architecture, art, photography, and scientific research, works that simply do not depict or imitate nature but use it as a starting point and reservoir of inspiration for eclectic and innovative responses to the relationship between man and his environment’. (Introduction to the book entitled Nature Design. Angeli Sachs)
Mushroom study Hon. May 1995.
Discovering Nature
'Research expeditions - such as those to the Americas - served as the foundation for the discovery of nature in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The knowledge gained through empirical research was integrated into cataloguing and systematization of nature, or was expressed in models such as Charles Darwin’s evolutionary tree of life' (Angeli Sachs: 2010).
Blue butterflies; Polyommatus see quote below.
Not the same species identified by Nabakov.
follow link to the story. 


Drawing is a tool, it encourages careful observation to render naturalistically and realistically, but eventually it incorporates styling and conceptual and creative thinking as an artist, craftsperson and or designer. One of the faithful followers of this blog, Jim Gottuso, had this to say about drawing as an observation tool.
I've been gradually coming to the conclusion that the value of drawing as it relates to mental development, understanding of the world around us and even its ability to alter our brains in respect to actually seeing, really seeing, is vastly overlooked in our modern cultures. It's clear to me that it is an indispensable activity in how you come to truly understand something, by observation, and I admire you for it. Recently, there was a scientific article published that, using DNA and all the modern scientific tools at the studier's disposal, confirmed a theory put forth by Vladimir Nabakov nearly a century earlier. Apparently, Nabakov, an avid butterfly studier (his true passion) spent years looking at butterflies under a microscope (the genitalia specifically) and theorized in publications that they had migrated in 5 great waves intercontinentally. Anyway, the upshot was that the new study using DNA and whatnot confirmed that he had it 100% correct and his was based entirely on observation. It begs the question, what can he see (and drawers and painters) that most of us cannot? (see full comment below)

3 comments:

jim said...

hi eugene, i love your drawings, beautiful grapes and the pod ideas are wonderful too. i've been gradually coming to the conclusion that the value of drawing as it relates to mental development, understanding of the world around us and even its ability to alter our brains in respect to actually seeing, really seeing, is vastly overlooked in our modern cultures. it's clear to me that it is an indispensable activity in how you come to truly understand something, by observation, and i admire you for it. recently, there was a scientific article published that, using dna and all the modern scientific tools at the studier's disposal, confirmed a theory put forth by vladimir nabakov nearly a century earlier. apparently, nabakov, an avid butterfly studier (his true passion) spent years looking at butterflies under a microscope (the genitalia specifically) and theorized in publications that they had migrated in 5 great waves intercontinentally. anyway, the upshot was that the new study using dna and whatnot confirmed that he had it 100% correct and his was based entirely on observation. it begs the question, what can he see (and drawers and painters) that most of us cannot? in an unrelated and definitely not positive note, i was talking to a drawing teacher yesterday from a small midwestern liberal arts school and she mentioned that the evangelical christian students came to her for the first time since she's been teaching and, as a group, requested that the nude model in the life drawing class be clothed. i have trouble conceiving of such a thing but there you have it. anyway, love your drawings and would love to see the cast pod tiles installed in the kitchen.

Eugene Hon said...

Thanks for your comments Jim, much appreciated as always. I hope you don't mind, I took the liberty to incorporate your comments as an extension of the post.
Your expressed views and reference to observation and the work of Nabakov seemed a fitting conclusion to the entry. God sent. Thanks it even works stylishly.

John Shirley said...

Fabulous post as always. I really must congratulate you on the quality of your blog in general, it really is quite inspirational, as are your drawings. I absolutely love the grape study.