Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Intentional Sketching

 I have yet another project to unveil today. With so many projects in various stages of completion, it's quite crazy! But if I get bored or uninspired with one project, I can always move on to another that is more compatible with my current state of creativity. Last week I started in on my sketchbook for the Art House Co-op's Sketchbook Project. In this project the Brooklyn Art Library sends each participating artist a sketchbook - plain-jane, simple and blank. Each artist fills his/her sketchbook with art and sends it back, at which point all the sketchbooks tour the country for folks to enjoy.

I've wanted to participate since I heard about the project a few years ago, but this is the first year I've committed the time and money to fill a sketchbook. I had to choose a theme, which was difficult considering the many enticing themes to choose from. I ended up with "Mysteries".

I thought profusely about which route I would take with my theme. I had to scrap several grand ideas before I ended up with what I have now. My first take on the theme was to create an entire mystery story surrounding the sketchbook, which would transform into the journal of someone who witnessed some type of crime. As the journalist strove to find out the identity of the criminal, the mystery would be revealed. That's about as far as that idea went.

My second idea was to illustrate mysterious truths about God in the style I began to work in in my post Process Paradox. I really liked this idea, but I realized that with the school year starting I wouldn't have the time to sit down, get out all the materials, and create this type of work. I needed something simpler, something more portable.

I decided to simplify and go with pen and pencil to begin. Here's the first page:

The idea is that this "ribbon" will traverse each page of the sketchbook. What will be at the end? It's a mystery!

It starts really simple. Or does it? I actually put more thought than it appears into this first page. I knew I wanted to start with a ribbon and a question mark. When I sat down to draw said ribbon, I couldn't decide where to place it. Wait! I could use a tool - my trusty Fibonacci caliper - to decide for me! So I did.

You're probably wondering what a Fibonacci caliper is. Here's a picture of mine:
I got this from Etsy: Fibonacci Caliper
Fibonacci was an Italian mathematician born in 1170. He used the Fibonacci number sequence as an example in his book Liber Abaci This number sequence begins as follows: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, etc. To find the next number, you take the current number and add it to the previous number - for instance, we have 21. We add that to 13 (the previous number) to get 34, which is the next number in the sequence. These numbers are said to be more pleasing to the eye than  most. You can find many items on Etsy.com that utilize the sequence. From the aforementioned caliper to towels, jewelry, and even beanies!

These numbers are closely related to the Golden Ratio (also pleasing to the eye), which is what my caliper holds. I love that I can simply stretch out the caliper (which is quite fun to play with, by the way!) instead of messing with measurements and equations. See?:

That was easy! I really need to use this more often!

Here's the next two-page spread:
From here it will continue to increase in complexity. I plan to utilize other media as well. I'll keep you posted on how it progresses.

Before I end this post, I want to share some more about the Golden Ratio. You can find so many pieces of classical art that utilize this ratio - dimensions of canvases and the proportions of columns in buildings, to name a few (see this page for some examples). The artists knew just what they were doing when they designed their pieces, including the proportions and dimensions. They purposefully used it in their work.

Now I'll show you two places I've found the Golden Ratio in nature:

The joints of the finger.

The proportion of the height of the leaf...
...to the width.
There are so many other Golden Ratios to be found in nature - and that's not even getting into Golden Spirals! It makes me wonder why so many find it to be a stretch of the imagination to believe that an Intelligent Designer created the universe. We see this proportion in art and say it was intentionally employed by an intelligent being. Why can't we see it in nature and say the same thing?


  1. Intelligent Designer - I'm adding that to my list of names for Divine Love, God, Principle. I heard about Fibonacci when I took the CZT training, now I'm going to order the clever device you are using. Love the ribbon going through the pages idea.

    1. The names of God are wonderful, describing a different facet of His personality. He's so big He needs all those names!

      Did Fibonacci come up in relation to the Paradox tangle? I've wondered if that tangle produces a Fibonacci spiral...

      Thank you!