Someone called me persistent today and the truth is that I’m really not. My marshmallow insides curdle and flee at rejection. But artist Gideon Amichay is truly persistent. Read this sweet and wonderful story on DesignObserver.com, excerpted from his book No, No, No, No, No, Yes: Insights from a Creative Journey. Amichay also has a TED talk that I’m just listening to now.
I’ve taken two wonderful botanical illustration classes through the remarkable program at the Denver Botanic Gardens. One of those was Color Mixing with Colored Pencil, taught by Susan Rubin, a wonderful teacher and contemporary botanical artist (photos from class below). She posted this Colorado Public Radio essay by Susanna Speier on Facebook recently on why botanical art still matters in the digital age.
One of the things that Susan told us in class was that the beginning of every century seems to see a resurgence in naturalist art and naturalist leanings. The sense of time moving forward and technological progress seems to invigorate — or necessitate – a return to nature. We’ve seen it in the 21st century in everything from an expanding interest in botanical illustration to textile prints and earth art and herbal medicine and small-scale agriculture and gardening.
For artists, whether the precision of formal scientific and botanical illustration appeals to you or not, nature is the first and ultimate source. I love abstraction and I love cities and the built environment, but the fundamental connection to nature grounds everything.
I discovered the concept of asemic writing through Michael Jacobson’s blog The New Post-Literate: A Gallery of Asemic Writing (there is also a Facebook group). Exploring what Jacobson calls “the new post-literate culture,” asemic writing refers to marks and symbols that look to us like writing – literacy – but don’t translate to a known language. The art that’s emerging is beautiful and wide-ranging, from marks of calligraphic fluidity to bold, aggressive patterning reminiscent of graffiti more than calligraphy.
I’d been thinking for some time about a series having to do with the idea of first words and last words — the first written words were, of course, pictograms. The featured painting on this page has subtle pictograms from the first written language.
I had a stack of small cards with watercolor washes in my studio and added some experimental asemic marks.
I think I lean toward the calligraphic/pretty (I studied calligraphy as a kid) but a more gutteral “language” would be good to explore.
That said, as a writer, I don’t know what a think about a post-literate culture. Literacy still matters.
I’ve worked as a writer, editor, and author in the organic foods world for many years, and the connections between art and agriculture are rich and evolving (see a 2009 post about art and ag on my previous Red Thread Studio blog here). Australian painter Sophie Munns is a wonderful artist who explores these connections via her Homage to the Seed projects. She has several sites well worth your time, including this beautiful Tumblr blog from one small seed.
Sophie’s vibrant, luscious art touches on ideas about fertility, diversity, the chaos and order of nature and the magnificence of the plant world — all in a beautiful maze of patterns and color. Here is her Christmas card art for the Global Crop Diversity Trust:
Art and agriculture is a theme I’ll likely explore more here – I’m on the advisory board of a new group that’s formed to possibly start a nonprofit organization fostering these connections, and I bought the site name artandag.com several years ago and plan to develop it soon. Stay tuned! And go explore Sophie’s work – she is an inspiration.