After a month of purely focussing on paint as media for creating, I couldn’t wait to start shooting again. It’s spring time in the Southern Hemisphere and the sun shower on the weekend proved to be the best time to get out and snap some blossom and rain drop action. This image pleases my soul. There is nothing more comforting than the return of fresh growth and hope that comes with it.
Nature inspired art and architecture has always existed, and can be observed in history, from Ancient Greece to Art Nouveau. Click on the images above to glimpse at a few of the visionary architects that I am inspired by personally. Nature’s forms and structures give rise to unlimited ideas for many art forms – including textile and furniture design and the topic of this current project – architectural structures.
Organic is curved, organic is asymmetrical, organic is natural materials, organic is individualistic, organic is holistic.” Sidney K Robinson
Organic architecture is an ancient philosophical concept coined by Frank Lloyd Wright. Its term refers to a style of architecture that is based on natural forms of design that are sympathetic and promote harmony with the natural world and the physical, mental and spiritual needs of the human being.
Architecture historian Pevsner (2011) has called Wright “the Greatest American Architect to date” and “a poet of pure form”. (p. 166). His numerous works as a prolific designer, had a dynamic and rhythmic style that successfully emphasized the contrast between rectilinear and curvilinear forms. They comprised of open plan spaces, flowing into outdoor living, bringing the inhabitants closer to their natural surroundings. He revolutionized the then typical ‘box’ style of the current domestic home by creating contrary interconnecting spaces with expansive horizontal lines, replicating the landscape where it stands, that contributed to the calming and reflective qualities of his designs.
A well designed ‘organic’ building will feel better and freer. (Pearson, 2001)
The re-emergence of ‘organic’ design stems from the post- industrial world, which sought to bring back and celebrate traditional ideas of living in harmony with the planet. Understanding the science of nature and her forms, allows artists and designers to consider what is possible in creating work.
The complete architect is master of the elements; earth, fire, light and water. Space, motion and gravitation are his palette; the sun his brush. His concern is the heart of humanity. He of all men, must see into the life of things; know their honour. – Frank Lloyd Wright.
Wright knew how to place form within space in a holistic manner. With consideration for the natural surroundings and the highlighting features that Nature gave the site, Wright would design the structures, gardens, terraces, and even the furniture of the cosy interiors to compliment each other, so that the entire home would become one organic, living entity with its land.
Wrights “Falling Water” is one of his most famous houses, that demonstrates his ability to create feelings of space and freedom. To read more about this National Historic Landmark click here. Although in contemporary western homes, we see open plan living as a commonality, for his time Wright challenged the stereotypical designs of 20th century domestic home in America. It wasn’t long though before he made it possible to provide low-cost and even small scale homes with the same organic and holistic intentions to many – the dwellings known commonly in America as the ‘Usonian House’.
One of the other free thinkers of the post-industrial world, Fritjof Capra is an advocate for a holistic approach to understanding the universe and our place in it as human beings. Capra is a founding director of the Centre of Ecoliteracy, a non-profit organization dedicated to the education for sustainable living. I admire his contribution to contemporary society and hold his values and the concept of the organic architecture in my mind, as I consider my creative development in this module of Visionary Structures.
“Above all, organic architecture should constantly remind us not to take Mother Nature for granted – work with her and allow her to guide your life. Inhibit her, and humanity will be the loser” – Kendrick Bangs Kellogg.
Aaltonen, G. (2008). The History of Architecture: Iconic Buildings Throughout the Ages. London, UK: Arcturus Publishing Ltd.
Delana. (2013). If Wrights Falling Water was a Tree House. Retrieved June 26, 2013, from Web Urbanist: http://weburbanist.com/2012/03/17/if-wrights-falling-water-were-a-tree-house/
Falling Water. (2013). Explore: Timeline. Retrieved June 26, 2013, from Falling Water: http://www.fallingwater.org/explore?to=2
Kliczkowski, H. (2003). Complete Works Gaudi. Barcelona, Spain: Loft Publications.
Pearson, D. (2001). New Organic Architecture: the Breaking Wave. London: Gaia Books Limited.
Pevsner, N. (2011). Pioneers of Modern Design: from William Morris to Walter Gropius (Fifth ed.). (P. Todd, Ed.) Bath, UK: Palazzo Editions Ltd.
Following on from my previous post, I have researched more into the topic of Utopia and grasping the concept of an ecological utopia. This could incorporate concepts such as organic architecture or lifestyles that are both more a kin to living in harmony with nature, and less dependent on western urbanization and into a more traditional way of living. Now this, I can resonate with.
Intentional communities all over the world are generally based on the utopian concept, which is improving the way humans live together. Members of these secular communities consisting of communes, farms, retreats and gypsy travelers of society have intentions of living the ideal lifestyle, in hope of peace and harmony with their neighbours and the land that provides for them.
When asked to imagine my ideal art studio within the sub-brief given in this project, my mind quickly led down a path that resonates with the utopian values of these traditional ways of living. I considered how I might like to step into my teepee each morning to begin the day’s creative work in meditative communion with my creator, or a tree-house loft where I can retreat completely into the natural surroundings that nourish and sustain me. However, my creative self preferred the idea of having a gypsy caravan wagon converted into an art studio and parked permanently in my home garden. This utopian vision is influenced by my love of the bohemian style, colours, textiles and the simple life that gypsies embrace. After being inspired by the eclectic vintage, rustic and contemporary designs of wagons and small dwellings (my favourite aspects seen above in these examples), I set off to design and build a model of my first visionary structure using wood as the media.
Small rooms or dwellings set the mind on the right path, large ones cause it to go astray – Leonardo de Vinci
Richardson, P. (2007). XS Green: Big Ideas, Small Buildings. London: Thames & Hudson.
Born in Japan 1961, Kahori Maki is an acclaimed artist/designer, having produced many works in various disciplines including illustration, installation, painting, graphic design, and object design. Working as an active freelancer since 1994, Maki has collaborated with leading brands and companies such as Designworks, Shiseido, Levi’s and McDonalds.
In addition, Maki has been working on Solo exhibitions and her works have featured in numerous fashion and design magazines. Her un-mistaking recognisable style is seen extensively in posters, commercial advertising, window displays, interior walls of buildings, fashion shoot back drops, textile prints and even on cars. This month, Maki’s work covered the walls of an entire warehouse for an audio-visual event in Brooklyn.
Maki’s stylised imagery, regardless of where she features it, is striking and tends to provoke mystery with its edgy, dark, fluid and organic forms. Her designs depict nature in its beautiful power and seductiveness, portraying the exotic and the eerie. Maki’s designs are always nature inspired, but her signature monochromatic illustrations are far from traditional depictions of nature.
(Maki is) one of the first fashion illustrators to identify the dramatic impact of the natural forms through dark monochromes rather than the more traditional soft pastels
Furthermore, Maki juxtaposes her work by placing it in the extreme urban environment or context – factoring in her philosophical concept of how urban life is deficient of nature. A concept marvellously complimented by the surreal and dark moody nature of her work, portraying her deep connection to the less desired aspects of nature.
I am not afraid of looking into the shadows and shedding light on the beautiful creatures that live in the twilight worlds
Maki talks about connecting the aspects of nature to a part of the human soul, and I interpret her work as an expression of the depth and mystery contained therein. I find myself also connecting this quote above to the human soul, and what may lay within the darkest corners. I too, am not afraid of looking into the shadows of my own soul and shedding light on what may be there. What beauty and treasures are still yet to be discovered?
Finally, I am inspired by Maki’s love of nature and the darkness of it that some may find oppressive or grotesque. Many of her works convey to me the idea of portals into other worlds. She expresses the melancholic with such elegance; one cannot help but be allured into the realms of swirling, meandering lines and forms.
The work of Maki has influenced my current project significantly. I have drawn upon her concept of combining animal and insect life with fauna and flora, and placed the bold outlines of them in a perfectly random occurring pattern. This research has led me to have confidence in taking an organic and bold approach to pattern, and I have explored and developed numerous possibilities for an outcome in this brief, of which I hope to experiment with further in the future. For the mean time, lets see how my project for ‘Pattern Universe’ has developed.
Watch this space.
IdN. Wayfinding+Signage: Kahori Maki. IdN , v17 (n5), 56-57.
Maki, K. (2010). Works. Retrieved May 28, 2013, from Kahori Maki: http://www.k-maki.com/
Quinn, B. (2009). Textile Designers: At the Cutting Edge. London, UK: Lawrence King Publishing.
With much gratitude and appreciation to Victoria & Alain for kindly sharing their special day with us, and Elysium Productions for the marvelous video.
‘An Artful Life’ is a regular post I will be featuring in my blog, highlighting an artist who I am inspired by or can draw research from in some shape or form. I wish to thank each and every artist who has planted a creative seed for me over the years. Today I wish to share with you a recent gem that I have discovered in my reading – Susan Tuttle.
This mother of two is a self taught photographer, digital artist, internationally recognised iphoneographer and author to many books including ‘Digital Expressions: Creating Digital Art with Adobe Photoshop Elements’ and ‘Exhibition 36: Mixed Media Demonstrations & Explorations’ In addition, she has featured extensively in various Visual Art magazines and journals and she is known for her online photography and Photoshop workshop tutorials.
For Tuttle, her main priority is her family life, a realm that includes DIY projects, homesteading, gardening and artful projects where she encourages her children to explore and create their own art. Living in the woods of rural Maine, America, she enjoys a simple life in the natural surroundings she chooses to live in. I am inspired by her beliefs in regards to creativity, which reflect my own understanding of it. Placing importance upon one’s need to create as being a vital element for well-being. As a mother, I can easily relate to how Tuttle integrates her creative spirit into family life; having ideas gushing out when doing the ordinary household chores like hanging out the washing, which is often when my best ideas crop up. Because ideas crop up when one least expects them, Tuttle has several notebooks scattered around the house, so that she may find any one of them swiftly to capture the ideas that come in the moment (I have four books on the go to store ideas that need to escape my constantly generating mind – now I feel a little bit normal). I feel a artistic motherly kinship with Tuttle reading about her creative space, which she enters upon settling the children into bed each night. She has her studio filled with all the things she loves from, vintage books, antiques, to art works of her own and others. In a ritualistic way that honours her creative spirit, she begins her evenings in the studio by lighting a candle, popping her favourite playlist on and has a glass of wine and her secret lollie stash awaiting consumption. This simple act of beginning her work inspires me to give my creative time more dedication and consciousness attended to it.
Tuttle’s art has been exhibited in galleries within the United States and abroad, and can be found in private collections worldwide. Her work has strong compositions and themes of light and shadow play, color, texture, and design. I am particularly drawn to the way she gives an image textural scratches and layers worn and transparent to portray a dreamy, timeless, otherworldly appearance. Tuttle makes her works from whatever needs to be expressed from her heart and mind at any given moment. Within her intentions to create, she aims to give a visual story for the viewer to consider, not giving too much away herself, rather letting the viewers imagine their own story. Although many of her mobile photography works are self-portraits, she considers her body to be no more than a model. The shape of which becomes transformed into another being – a spirit. As a woman after my own heart she says…
“I rely mostly on my inner knowings when I take pictures — shooting from the gut, most likely breaking all the rules:) When I see something special I wish to capture, I can literally feel my heart rise in my chest. I follow those gut instincts. Not to say that I don’t think about composition, color, tonal value, etc. — I certainly do and am meticulous about these aspects, but I seem to generally follow an internal set of rules as opposed to ones that have been imposed upon me.”
and she continues…
“I must make art — it brings me much joy and oftentimes provides a safe haven where I can work out life’s challenges. I am addicted to the artistic process and love getting lost in the passion of creating something. With art in my life I feel like a whole person, and without it I know I would be lost”.
Tuttle dedicates a lot of her energy to share with others her craft through teaching. She sees it as a worthy contribution with “potential to make a difference to the world”, believing that when one is connected to their creative spirit and creating art, then the individual may experience greater peace for himself and that of the world. A woman definitely worth admiring!
Caves, E. (2013). Storytellers – Woodland by Susan Tuttle. Retrieved from http://iphoneogenic.wordpress.com/2013/03/12/storytellers_susantuttl/
Caves, E. (2013). Featured Artist – Susan Tuttle. Retrieved from http://iphoneogenic.wordpress.com/2013/02/18/featured-artist-susan-tuttle-ilkasattic/
Cole, S. (2010). The Artistic Mother: a Practical Guide for Fitting Creativity into your Life. North Light Books. Cincinnati, Ohio.
Tuttle, S. (2013). Susan Tuttle Photography + Art + Life. Retrieved from http://susantuttlephotography.com/first-test-page/