Saturday, April 11, 2015

Inspiration from Toronto

I traveled to Toronto during the last week of March for a business conference and had a bit of time to do some sightseeing. First stop was The Royal Ontario Museum. I actually passed by the ROM on my way to somewhere else. It wasn't on the agenda, but I stopped by the gift shop anyway to have a look around. I picked up three books on decorative motifs: Mehndi Designs -- Traditional Henna Body Art by Marty Noble, Islamic Design -- A Genius for Geometry by Daud Sutton, and a book of adapted designs for coloring by architect and fabric designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

I've been having fun studying, copying, adapting, and deconstructing a few of these new designs. The Mehndi and Mackintosh motifs are both very pretty though completely different in character. Mehndi designs look like beautiful busyness -- lots of scallops and leaves, spirals and paisley forms, curved bands filled with spokes and lined with pearls.  

     These Bijou tiles were inspired by traditional Mehndi designs.

I am continually surprised by how simple many traditional designs are, Mehndi and others, yet how unlikely I would be to produce them spontaneously without a nudge from models. Neither of these tiles was copied precisely from any primary image. Both mix and match different basic moves, but each one challenges my mind to explore new visual horizons.

This is another tile I completed yesterday to unwind on a Friday night. It looks like it contains bits and pieces of the entire work week in it, but the impression is holistic.

The best parts: I like the way paradox (at the center) spreads out into pinwheel-type fronds. I was also happy to see tri-po make an appearance, to the right of the poke leaves and just below the flux and tipple. Tri-po is a cool little pattern that I use rarely. My last favorite parts are the bold black shapes to the upper left and lower right of center. This motif was inspired by a royalty-free decorative vector ornament I found in a book published by Dover.

Here is the string I used to structure this tile: