Petroglyphs are pictograms drawn by ancient cultures on the surface of rocks by incising, picking, carving, and abrading. Drawing is about mark making. Right now, I am looking at a rock that is on my shelf. It has particular marks incised on it. They were most likely created by natural causes-rubbing against another rock. Images, drawings and marks can become a part of a visual language for a designer. Particular types of images and marks become “personal petroglyphs” for me. The composition and spaces between the marks is what I find inspiring. Some of my personal petroglyphs are natural things like rocks, that I have traced or drawn. But others are cultural images found in media. I have a visual language book of images that I collect. Another box contains ephemera-printed material from the past. Petroglyphs can become constraints in a design process and relate specifically to a place. I like to hike and look for petroglyphs. This one was found along the highway somewhere near Moab.
In design, it is important to identify what determines fitness. In other words, how well does a project fit to the designer? Designers can be natural problem solvers within a particular project but how good are we at attracting the right mix of projects that reinforces our vision as the designer that we want to be? The difficulty lies with the skills that are associated with designers. Often there is more work out there than we have time to do. We can do many things, and well. So it is important to steer the boat to the right cove. It might require tacking against the current to find the right place. If we know ourselves, and communicate who we are or who we aspire to be to the right audience, then projects will be the right fit. Fashion and design is only in part about style it is about wearing something well. It is about fit. Even the fortune cookie agrees.
Thinking about the poetic transitional beauty of Foxtail Lilies. I had the opportunity to work around some of these at the Denver Botanic Gardens. I love the architectural beauty of their structure as they wave in the wind. In my mind, Sedum Rupestre “Angelina” is a perfect ground cover for underneath. In the fall, the colors in the sedum reflect the earlier transition of the Foxtail Lilies. And then the lilies sport wonderful podlike beads and remain architectural throughout the fall. I may plant some very soon in a contemporary space that I am designing.
Good friends recently reminded me of a trip that we took together to Van Buren Point-located in Lake Erie, New York. It is a place defined by the little summer bungalow cottages built in the 1920’s along the shore of a small bay created by an outcropping of rocks. I filled a sketchbook of paintings, lazily documenting our week long break. At times, I painted in a canoe and in the car-when we visited an amish community. The local store was Andy’s, where we could bike to buy fresh corn and whatever we needed. I am not sure if it is still in business, but it was a charming little store. Kenny on the couch reminds me that August can be a time to melt into the couch and escape with a book.
I need to invent a waterproof sketchbook. Recently while soaking in a Japanese hot tub, I contemplated the surrounding fence. It was a collage of at least ten japanese fence constructions. I felt the need to sketch and draw in the water. I noticed the proportions and how joints fit together in this fence. It is tempting to recreate designs. We see them here and want to put them there. My mind wandered. I have been warned about that but I can’t help it. If the mind wanders, let it do what it wants. What if the techniques inspired other forms of design? I went home and pulled out a sketchbook that I took with me to Japan years earlier. I remembered a quick color sketch that I did as I walked through Kyoto. The photos from this trip are archived on my computer somewhere and the sketch is bound with the book, sitting on my shelf. Sketches and field notes are artifacts that float in the creative well, and easily accessed. Perhaps one day, this fence idea will become scalable and will inspire something unrelated to a fence.