Archive for February, 2008


February 29, 2008

A couple of urban mandalas. A pocket park, for those of you who aren’t married to an urban planner, is a little park (often as small as one residential lot) nestled in the middle of an urban area.

urban mandala

pocket park


February 28, 2008

swirlicon mandala


February 27, 2008

fruit mandala

fruit mandala 2 color


February 26, 2008

zinnia mandala

zinnia mandala reversed


February 25, 2008

The Oliver Sacks article got me thinking about historic patterns, and I started drawing more of my circular designs. Then my spouse walked by and said, “Holy mandala,” which got me thinking about consciously drawing modern mandalas. Here’s an excerpt from the Wikipedia entry for mandala:

“Mandala has become a generic term for any plan, chart or geometric pattern that represents the cosmos metaphysically or symbolically, a microcosm of the Universe from the human perspective….The psychoanalyst Carl Jung saw the mandala as “a representation of the unconscious self.” …In the West, mandala is also used to refer to the “personal world” in which one lives, the various elements of the mandala or the activities and interests in which one engages, the most important being at the centre of the mandala and the least important at the periphery. Depicting one’s personal mandala in pictorial form can give one a good indication of the state of one’s spiritual life.”

I’ve always drawn circular patterns, ever since I was a little kid. My About page has some examples of circles done for various projects over the years.

Here’s a modern nature-inspired mandala. Is it meaningful that the center is empty, if that’s supposed to be the most important element? I’ll have to try to imbue my next set of mandalas with more conscious meaning.

petal mandala

Oliver Sacks article about migraine patterns

February 25, 2008

Oliver Sacks has an article in the NYT that talks about the patterns that are associated with migraines. Here’s a little excerpt:

“In my own migraine auras, I would sometimes see — vividly with closed eyes, more faintly and transparently if I kept my eyes open — tiny branching lines, like twigs, or geometrical structures covering the entire visual field: lattices, checkerboards, cobwebs, and honeycombs. Sometimes there were more elaborate patterns, like Turkish carpets or complex mosaics; sometimes I saw scrolls and spirals, swirls and eddies; sometimes three-dimensional shapes like tiny pine cones or sea urchins.

Such patterns, I found, were not peculiar to me, and years later, when I worked in a migraine clinic, I discovered that many of my patients habitually saw such patterns.” — from Patterns, by Oliver Sacks

Sacks discusses how many other physical conditions can produce geometric hallucinations: sensory deprivation, low blood sugar, fever, delirium, or the hypnopompic and hypnagogic states that come immediately before and after sleep.

I’ve experienced some of these patterns, particularly when I’m drifting off to sleep. I’ve seen some beautiful patterns, interesting enough that they almost pushed me to full awakening. I’ve thought, “What a great combination of colors. I’ll have to remember that tomorrow.” And of course, I can never remember.

Sacks then ties the migraine patterns to patterns that have been represented in art across cultures, times and disciplines–painting, weaving, tile work, basketry, architecture–and wonders whether these similar geometric patterns could have all been inspired by internal brain organization.

It’s a fascinating article. I’ve always been drawn to organized forms, repetitive images, patterns of shape and color. Perhaps I’ve been tapping into a larger historical or biological system of organization, made tangible by artists throughout time.

[Note: I copied this entry over from my Vox blog, which unfortunately is unable to export comments. So I also copied the comments because they were particularly interesting and I hated to leave them behind.]


Mr Sacks – a delightfully observant man – may be unique among doctors. He actually seems to have a curiosity that leads him to consider ideas NOT part of the medical dogma. That leads him to say things which may look new to doctors, but which are not new at all. So what is amazing about this story is not that people see (and hear and tap out and verbalize and smell) patterns constantly. But rather that a doctor actually paid attention to them.
Watt Pye
I like the patterns you design and that you share their diversified origins, ie., Henry’s doodling, organic microscopic materials, the colors and shapes you see as a result of your fascination with nature, order, and repetition. And that they probably, like Dr. Sacks’ migrain art, may be tap into the archetypes and what Jung calls the collective unconscious of art, mythology, and biology.
Here is a thesis – an interpretation of a popular thesis -There is no collective unconscious, and there are no collective archetypes. There are tons and tons of individual impulses and tons and tons of individual archetypes molded by interactions with folks close by.And these impulses can be observed. When observed, the observer muses that something must be going on. Out of all the possible accounts of what is “going on”, some observers lean to global and some to local accounts.

Then in an act of philosophical reification, big thinkers (like Jung) push the global accounts of local phenomena to the max, saying all the stuff observable in every local place and time is all connected.

Connected why? How?

In the mind of the observer with a prejudice.

Meanwhile, the alternative explanations are out there waiting to be pushed. Maybe instead of archetypal, similarities are not as similar as the observer wants them to be, and instead, each moment expresses itself uniquely.

How does this sound?The more even a perception or pattern is (high in entropy), the less VISIBLE it is. When a perception or pattern has flaws or organized exception to entropy, it grabs the eye, gets the eye to act.The eye needs something to act on.


February 24, 2008

primative beans

primative green beans


February 23, 2008

Fig 8s

Fig 8s 2 color

Fig 8s reversed


February 22, 2008

Still have the genetic fixation.


alleles reversed

alleles deconstructed

Houses Not Patterns

February 22, 2008

It’s a little like Love Not War but less impactful. I’ve been drawing the five houses for the Steele School Washington Park Home Tour, a little pro bono job I do every year for my kids’ elementary school. I’ll post my favorite house for this year’s tour. It actually looks really nice…it’s a modern house that still looks like it fits into its neighborhood and surroundings. Nice scale, interesting materials. I guess to do it justice I have to post the photo that I was working from, in addition to my sketch, since the sketch doesn’t really show the materials or colors.

gilpin house

gilpin photo


February 21, 2008

I’m liking black and white right now.


gears deconstructed


February 20, 2008

I drew these on the plane back from Dallas. Then today I made a lovely vegetable soup with mushrooms, and was reminded of those I drew.

mushroom vortex


February 19, 2008



February 18, 2008

I’ve been working on this one for a long time. I have lots of variations….I’m not sure the pattern is completely worked out yet, though. I may rework it sometime in the future.

forties flora


February 17, 2008

Rough shapes.


February 16, 2008

citrus slices


February 15, 2008


February 14, 2008

Happy valentine’s day, and happy birthday Uncle Jerry!

mum bouquet


February 13, 2008


February 12, 2008

Trying my hand at puffy illustration.