Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Looking for (and sketching) patterns

Leslie here.  I'm certain I'm not alone in stating that I am obsessed with patterns, both natural and man-made.  I find myself, camera-in-hand, documenting things that my eyes are attracted to when I am traveling and in my own garden.  These photographic resources are a source of visual information that I refer back to when drawing, working at the print table, and more.  As interested as I am in my own little obsessions, I am equally curious about what other artists like to look at, and draw or paint.  How about you?  What patterns do you like to draw or photograph (or simply stare at!)?  If you respond at the end of this post, you will make me a very happy woman.  I'm curious!
In this post I want to share some recent photos and drawings with you.  Enjoy!

crosscut wood sections used as ground cover...

This Mondrian-inspired installation (made with spools of thread) graces
the wall behind the hotel desk at the Hilton in the NYC Fashion district
 created by artist Devorah Sperber

even something as ordinary as stacks of similar items,
in this case, the contents of goodie bags for "Quilters Take Manhattan",
have visual appeal (at least, to me!)

who isn't inspired by colorful spools of gorgeous trim?
Seen here at M&J Trimming NYC

...and then there is the visual overload of Mood Fabric in NYC!
Do you see Jamie Fingal in this photo?
Thank you, Mood!

the incredible visual symmetry that is the pattern of branches on a tree.
Seen here on the High Line, NYC
(one of my favorite places in the city)

Driving into NYC in May, I noted the wonderful architectural symmetry of a bridge.
Be comforted by the fact that I was not behind the wheel when I took this!!

Taken at an architectural salvage place in Philadelphia,
these old barrels satisfy two obsessions:  circles, and circles 
"squished together" in a large group!

Old lamposts and other architectural columns.
Stacks of carved cement and plaster.
I want to take them all home!
I think this sketch, in particular, is quite visually confusing.
I was focusing on the shadows as well as the darker areas of the rusted post 
with the "squarish" base at the top of the pile.  No doubt, this drawing
would benefit from a bit of watercolor or marker to define the values a bit more.
Still, it was fun to work almost exclusively on the shadows, 
as I did with all the other drawings. 
Almost always, shadows "ground" the object and give it form and definition.  Try making a drawing using only the shadows.  Magically, the form will take shape!

Cast shadow from a window, with additional shadows from the cabinetry and hardware.

So.  Although I love to draw on-site, sometimes a photograph is a great visual reference to a set of patterns that I find attractive.  What do you love to look at?  What do you photograph?  
Have fun:  that is the most important thing.  As you can see by my own drawings (done in a moleskine with a Sharpie marker) they aren't perfect.  Perfect is highly overrated...


  1. I have been recently drawn to the pattern of the veins in the back of my right hand - particularly when they are prominent. and then coupled with times my hands are dry, there is a crinkle patterning of the skin.
    so, yesterday, I was photographing my hand. I have a plan on how to use the inspiration, but it is not ready for public consumption. :)
    Sandy in the UK
    PS I am tempted to ask friends if I can get photos of the backs of their hands, but I have to work up the nerve. ;-p

  2. I'm drawn to bright colors OR textures. I look for good composition when I take pictures. A flow or a way for your eyes to travel naturally from one side of the picture to the other. I love this post. Inspiring and fun!

  3. great post! I am drawn to patterns in nature like the intricate patterns in leaves, and the larger patterns of river systems. They also seem to replicate the patterns in the human body like veins!

  4. Oh yes! I love all these pattern inspirations! Sandy, just ask your friends: I suspect they will be willing to allow you to photograph their hands.
    Very cool ideas!

  5. great shots Leslie, I really like that tree and all that yummy texture in the photo of the old lamp posts is making me swoon!

  6. What patterns do you like to draw or photograph (or simply stare at!)?

    I love the patterns that occur from cracked glass or concrete. I'm also fascinated with trees: the bark on the outside, the grain when the tree is cut, the veins on the leaves... everything.


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