I came across a quote from American physicist, Richard Feynman, that I had copied out long ago, and realized that he was, in essence, describing exactly what I am unwittingly doing in my metalpoint drawings.
He said, “Nature uses only the longest threads to weave her patterns, so that each piece of her fabric reveals the organization of the entire tapestry.”
More and more, I am fascinated by the elegance of nature’s patterns, whether it is in the powerful wing feathers of the turkey vulture just now having a drink from the bird bath on the front deck of the house, in the sinews of a weathered oak tree or in the veins of a hackberry tree leaf.
Stones tell of geology, bark tells of climate and the variety of tree, leaves and flowers tell of plant variety and health, feathers speak of bird species, shells tell of species and geography – the list is endless. Each is a part of the greater tapestry of nature and those patterns clue one into worlds of fascination and interest. For me, personally, the way to learn of this organisation of nature is to draw always from real life, with as close-up a view of the object I am drawing as possible. Intimate, enthralling stuff that takes one on long journeys into unknown realms.
If one can learn the basics of how things are put together - say, in how a plant grows, flowers and fruits – then I really believe that the art one creates from that plant has more authenticity, whether the approach is realistic or not. Implicit in the art is a familiarity with the whole, not just the portion being painted or drawn.
Of course, the other side of the equation in matters artistic is the viewer, whose life experience influences what is seen in the artwork. That aspect is beyond the purview of being an artist! One just has to keep on trying to be true unto oneself as an artist, and being mindful that indeed, the “longest threads” do reveal the exquisite complexity and elegance of nature.