Normally pollen just makes me sneeze. Today it had to be inspiring!
A weekend workshop in screenprinting at Stetson University held challenges of all kinds. One was to get inspired by spores of pollen, shown here as photographic closeups. Part of our task in the workshop was to create a collaborative fabric wall hanging based on images of pollen, to go with an exhibit to be presented this spring by artist Jessica Rath. (Her work focuses on buzz pollinators, their importance and place in nature.)
How to begin to interpret a pollen spore? It’s a foreign object, like an alien being. And round. And deeply contoured, requiring value and depth to depict accurately. It’s hard to know where to begin.
That’s where a little simplified interaction with my sketchbook started the process. Abstracting shapes. With my left hand on the pollen photo and my right hand on my sketching pen, I just began reacting to shapes on the surface. A linear response to a dimensional image. And patterns began to emerge.
As I sketched, another artist in the group looked on, and said “Those look like giraffe markings.” Another said, “Those look like markings on a seashell.” Both true. And amazing. Opening up to the shapes presented, without preconceptions of where the lines would go, revealed patterns and shapes found throughout the natural world. Patters on turtle backs are similar. Also markings on beetles. And tree bark.
Such a simple act – to sketch quickly and discover what is revealed. It became a way of seeing. My sketching hand discovers what it would take my eye longer to realize!