Speaking Of Visual Thinking...!

What's do best athletes, best entrepreneurs, best musicians, best graphic designers, best curators, best software programmers and ofcourse ace artists have in common? Other than the fact that they are well known (though that's now always true with s/w programmers :)), they all utilize their Visual Thinking skills for problem solving, idea generation, improving themselves and delivering near perfect performances when required. Well have a look at the following pitch-hope you like it. And good luck with solving everyday challenges visually.

"One can have no smaller or greater mastery than mastery of oneself"~da Vinci


Mathematics and Aesthetics...!

[Image Courtesy - Digikamera]

I've often wondered what is it that makes certain objects so appealing to us despite culture or geographical variations amidst the viewers? In general our attraction to another object increases if that entity appears symmetrical, proportionate and consistent.
Thanks to Judith (our teacher at Danforth's Docent Training Program), recently I learned that some of the best artworks do follow precision mathematics. The historical masterpieces have been proved to follow 'Divine Proportion', commonly known as 'Golden Ratio' in artworld. When Judith showed us the handouts, which explained how can one make a golden rectangle from an simple square, I was so thrilled ! We also learned that the ratios of distances in simple geometric figures such as the pentagon, pentagram, decagon and dodecahedron is a constant and is denoted by Greek letter phi. When I reached home and did my own research, I found some interesting facts, which I thought would be worth sharing:
  • The symbol ("phi") was apparently first used by Mark Barr at the beginning of the 20th century in commemoration of the Greek sculptor Phidias, who a number of art historians claim made extensive use of the golden ratio in his works.(Source WA)
  • One of the first programs people write when they learn Computer Programming is to write a code that generates Fibonnaci Series. They are told that one of the best ways to efficiently pack things tightly together is using the Fibonacci Sequence. This is reinforced by so many examples in nature such as poppy seed heads, flower petals, leaf arrangements etc.
  • The Golden Ratio and Fibonacci sequence are intimately interconnected.
  • Leonardo da Vinci's drawings of the human body emphasised "divine proportion'.
  • So many aesthetically pleasing and structurally reliable objects around us (Amazing Watches, MP3 Players) follow golden ratio rule.

When I did a good amount of reading about golden ratio, I got this crazy idea while driving home fro work. Over this weekend, I carved out squares from few sheets of white paper, rubbed charcoal on them and then made a small star out - it somehow seemed interesting and nice! Try designing something say a cardboard candy box, a small rug or a study table using the "golden ratio" rule when you have some free time. Believe me you'll be totally amazed! Oh and yes you might find these tools handy for this exercise: Golden Ratio Calculator & Golden Section Gauge - Happy Creating :D

"There are always flowers for those who want to see them."~Henri Matisse


Sub Surface View with Trisha Barry

[Image Courtesy-©Trisha]

Ever since we learned to communicate, we look forward to occasions where we can share our experiences, express our true emotions, connect to great people and be a part of something bigger than our own perceived selves. Over the course of history we have devised several innovative ways to communicate - language, gestures, music, dance, art, writing, emails and even SMSs and we'll certainly keep evolving on that front but the basic communication drill hasn't changed much.

All our efforts are usually aimed at sharing stories - about ourselves, about our extreme life experiences, about the super nice people we meet in our lives and about our sources of inpiration. And as listeners (if one is hearing a story) or viewers (if one is viewing the pictorial representation of a story), when we see reflection of our true selves in characters / plots of stories - "Ahaaa-I see!" moment comes and a related impression gets carved in our minds for ever.

A similar thing happened to me two months ago. On September 13th this year, I was at Danforth Museum to attend the museum's annual OPEN HOUSE. It was a very well organised event and thanks to Danforth, every participant had an opportunity to attend art workshops, meet art faculty, take a guided museum tour & most important of all meet ARTISTS! Long story short, that's how I met Trisha Barry, a fine art photographer, and I have to admit that connection was immediate. After I was done expressing my inquisitiveness about her "Pride, 2008" work, she smiled back and told me briefly about the setting and context in which photograph was taken. I was inspired right away!! As I ruminated about Pride, 2008 for weeks that followed, I realized that the meeting had stirred up many questions in my mind and I promised myself to do some research and find out answers to all my questions soon. Here's a snapshot of Pride, 2008:

The photograph was taken in "Nichols and Stone", which has been known to sell the finest solid wood furniture in America since 1762. As ace company was shutting down its operations in Gardener, MA in early 2008, most of us would have dismissed this event as the obvious fate of any company who is not doing well financially in business world. However, Trisha had a difference of opinion. She decided to venture into the factory, observe the factory craftsmen, spend time with them in their last days at factory and get a first hand experience of the situation herself. Most of the factory people she watched and talked to shared the following qualities, which Trisha has captured brilliantly in her photographs.

  • They were all ace artisans and exhibited perfectionist attitudes.

  • They took immense pride in their work.

  • They worked very hard everyday and for several years to deliver ace products.

  • They had boundless faith in each other.

  • They shared an extraordinary affectionate bond amongst themselves.

Take a look at the awe-inspiring description penned down by Barbara, one of the artisans at Nichols and Stone.

When life treats us with interesting challenges or we face ourselves in a Catch-22 situation, we usually tend to look for inspiration and drive in a variety of distant sources-people, places or things. Trisha's photographs illustrate that inspiration can be tapped from just about any environment and anywhere - one just needs to learn to see the sub surface view! If you cherished Trisha's photographs too, you might wish to check out the foll. links:

  • Nichols and Stone - link
  • 12 Months with New England Farmer - link
  • Trisha's latest stint with fishermen at Newport - link

Farmers >> Craftsmen >> Fishermen >> ? - I wonder what Trisha's upto next :D

"It's on the strength of observation and reflection that one finds a way. So we must dig and delve unceasingly."~Claude Monet

What is Art...

and why does it matter? I was asked this question on September 6th, 2007 when I visited YUAG to attend their Open House. Though I tried my best to answer the question logically (I answered-Art is perhaps representation of artist's thoughts and perceptions and it matters because perhaps it conveys a deeper meaning), I was quite intrigued and decided to do some research on this subject later. Come September 15th morning(next Saturday), I found myself drawn to YUAG again. This time there was a teen docent to take gallery visitors through the exhibits and as Mike (our docent) gave us a tour, things seemed so different and captivating! This visit certainly left an indelible impression about the subject "ART" in my mind and I've been trying to find the right answers ever since.

A quick lookup on meaning of "ART" on Visual thesaurus gives an interesting visual representation showing the related words too. When one takes a closer look at the four nearest nodes, their respective meanings more or less appear to be:
  • Creative representations of abstract things.
  • Unique Skill acquired through observation and study.
  • Outcomes of human creative ability.
  • Representations in a media as publications, artbooks etc.
Based on my observation of famous artworks so far, motivations of artists could vary per the following:
  • To understand how things work and find what's happening inside- Analytical Drawing
  • To reproduce accurately the appearance of a living / non-living object - Observational Drawing
  • To document an experience and communicate emotions/intent and to share their or others' life stories- Illustrative Drawing

Think about it-of all the living species on earth, only human beings create ARTWORKS which could range from near perfect portraits to captivating landscape paintings to architectural drawings to hilarious caricatures to dazzling conceptual designs to fabric paintings and so on...for some reason I found this observation very interesting.

Why another ART blog?

Well ever since I attended YUAG Open House two years ago, I have visited several art galleries and museums on the East Coast (Thanks to BOA's Museums On Us Program), have filled several notebooks, have met some really inspiring people (artists, photographers, curators, museums officials, volunteers at musuems) and I must admit that every such visit has provided an energetic lift to me. Based on suggestions of close friends, I have decided to pen down my thoughts/experiences/impressions abour "ART" and "ARTISTS" here in this blog and share my enthusiasm with other curious folks who feel equally amazed by ART! So let's take a plunge into this mystic world of art and artists right away and try answering the question "Does Art Matter?" over the course of time...

"I am not an adventurer by choice but by fate"~Vincent van Gogh