Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Thinking Wall

I have finally completed the set of 50 Botanical Bioform Building Blocks!
Here they are on the *Thinking Wall*:

I’m scanning the individual images and putting up a Building Block Gallery very soon.

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Botanical Inspiration: Mark Squires

Mark Squires' Fashion Photography:

Click here to learn more about Mark Squires

Click here to learn more about Amy E. Fraser’s series in progress: Botanical Bioforms

Botanical Inspiration: Inka Essenhigh

Inka Essenhigh’s Paintings:

Click here to learn more about Inka Essenhigh

Click here to learn more about Amy E. Fraser’s series in progress: Botanical Bioforms


The art supplies for the Botanical Bioform painting series have arrived!

You can see from the photo above that my assistant has taken on the very important job of guarding the materials for the new paintings!

I’ve decided to work on a larger scale for the Botanical Bioform series, using mixed media (ink, colored pencil, watercolor pencil and acrylic paint) on 18” x 24” sheets of 140 pound archival watercolor paper. I feel slightly obligated to add that the *mixed media* of the new paintings may also consist of cat hair as well as other various debris generated by a wild monkey child.
Art is life. :)

Friday, January 26, 2007

Building Block Process: Elimination

1. To get rid of; remove:
a. To leave out or omit from consideration; reject.
b. To remove from consideration by defeating, as in a contest.
2. Mathematics - To remove (an unknown quantity) by combining equations.
3. Physiology - To excrete (bodily wastes).

My friend Derek has suggested that I show (and discuss) the sketches that I am ELIMINATING from the set of Botanical Bioform Building Blocks. Great idea, but, unfortunately for me the concept of sharing my rejected drawings goes against every fiber of my being! Then I realized that was exactly the point! That is the reason why I absolutely have to do it. I need to do something *different* in order to expand my development as an artist. I have recently given thought to the fact that all of the art I created in 2006 had an alternative purpose; each piece was designed with a specific audience/client/market in mind. In other words, it wasn’t art for art’s sake; I have been making art to sell. Obviously, there is nothing wrong with that in general; BUT, the result has been that my recent art has been a bit “safe and predictable”. So now that I have hundreds of medallions in stock at the studio and in the stores as well as a large number of paintings currently exhibiting, I feel I have finally earned the time to create something dangerous and unpredictable! Okay, so I’m not sure how one accomplishes that with plants as inspiration but I will do my best! At the very least I hope to create something different that truly satisfies my soul.

So what will I do different? I am going to take risks. I’ve started by doing things I wouldn’t normally do, like discussing my creative process here in the blog; I am sharing my thoughts, revealing work in progress, outlining concepts and introducing inspirations as they happen with out (too much) concern for the end result. I am desperately clinging to the notion that the experience gained from the journey will outweigh the risk. I’m trying not to think about the “what if’s”. I certainly won’t know unless I try. So in the spirit of risk taking, and the quest for creative knowledge, I will reveal ALL! Or most, well, at least a pretty good portion of it anyway.

Here are a few of the drawings I have ELIMINATED from the Botanical Bioform Building Block set:

The drawings (Fine Point Sharpies on 8.5” x 11” Cardstock) above were rejected from the final set of 50 Building Blocks because they felt *wonky*. I wish I could offer more intellectualized reasoning, but that isn’t usually the case when it comes to my art. I am basing the majority of the elimination process on gut feeling. You may note that I included (now eliminated) some sea life (and the fossil). I realize that these objects are not exactly botany but they had interesting qualities and they still qualify as Bioforms (I’ve obviously wandered beyond the wildflower meadow for my sources of inspiration). It is difficult to define what I’m looking for in the set, other then the guidelines I listed in the previous Building Block discussion: variety of shape, form and texture as well as a well rounded spectrum of life cycle stages.

At this point it appears that all of the Building Block drawings (including the sketches I plan to keep) are looking a lot more like traditional botanical drawings then anything especially *Amyesque*. I’m not sure if it is the medium of pen that feels traditional or if it is the fact that I am still being safe and predictable. It is very possible that I am subconsciously influenced by the notion that the set of 50 Building Blocks will also serve as the designs for a new botanical medallion collection. As Exalted Beauty Medallion designs the objects must remain fairly conservative to appeal to the majority of my customer base. However, I am not especially disappointed by this realization because I have convinced myself that all of the really great abstractions have their basis in reality. Meaning, I remain optimistic because I am looking at the completed Building Blocks as sources of inspiration, not as the end result for the Botanical Bioform paintings.

The development of the set is still in progress, I plan to continue to draw and eliminate until I find a collection of 50 that works well together. And then? I’m not sure what. I’ll keep you posted!

Thursday, January 25, 2007


Still thinking about natural textures…

Here are a few black and white examples of my
Coppermine photo series:

I changed these images to black and white to help me think of the elements from a fresh perspective. This is similar to the process I am working on for the
Botanical Bioform Building Blocks.

Click here to see the Coppermine photographs in color.

Click here to see the Coppermine Medallions.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Saturday, January 20, 2007


In the Concept and Inspiration discussion I stated that I would be using 50 photographs as reference material to create 50 new object drawings (of seeds, pods, blossoms, leaves, etc.) that will serve as the Building Blocks for the Botanical Bioform series. Well, you are probably wondering why I would choose to add so much work to my creative process. Why wouldn’t I just put the photographs up around the studio and use those images as direct inspiration for the new paintings?

For me, this additional step is about taking ownership. I am trying to create a Visual Langue that is completely unique to my vision/imagination. It is like taking an existing alphabet and creating a new original font. You know the letters and what they mean but by creating a new font you see the words written in a whole new light. The point is to design shapes based on the plants selected, but also to remove them from the influence of their existing environment and color context. This allows me to better imagine new color choices and envision new environments. The goal is to draw imaginative natural objects that feel earthy and primal, that connect with the basic essence of nature, but with out true concern for the original species identity. The overall vision for the Botanical Bioform series is to focus on the life cycle/nature concept more then the objects as specific plants. I plan to put weight on the emotional value of nature, rather then creating accurate botanical depictions. In other words, the Building Blocks will not be Botanical Illustrations in the traditional sense. They will be portrayals of nature, nurtured by me, with every intention of mutating the average botany into the Amyesque!

Here are the Botanical Bioform Building Blocks in progress:

This photo shows 48 of the drawings (the *Building Blocks*) I have been developing for the Botanical Bioform series. The materials for this stage of the drawing process are; 8.5” x 11” cardstock, pencil, Sharpies and ball point pen. These sketches are spread out on the floor so I can see how the individual *Building Blocks* are working together as a body (or if you prefer the Visual Language metaphor: Alphabet). After getting to this stage in the process I have begun editing. I am looking for variety of shape, form and texture as well as a well rounded spectrum of life cycle stages. I’m currently in the process of removing the shapes that I feel are not working, either they are too repetitive or stand out in a way that is not harmonious with the set. So, at this point I will continue to draw and edit (and draw and edit and draw and edit some more) until I get a set of 50 that works for me. That the plan for now anyway! :)

And a side note for my medallion junkies, I have a feeling that the final Botanical Bioform Building Blocks may also serve as the basic designs for a new Exalted Beauty medallion collection in the near future! :)

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Coming Right Up!

Today as I was working on the Building Blocks I realized how much I envy my son his creative freedom.
I sit at the studio table frustrated and struggling to create something *interesting* as my son vibrates on the chair next to me (he doesn’t stay still long enough to actually sit). As usual he is looking expectantly at me to answer the never ending question:
“Now what you want me to make Ma Ma?”
I respond suggesting various subjects, and every time he excitedly replies:
“Okay! Coming right up!”

Here are today’s Caden Masterpieces:

Ma Ma



Caden’s art lesson of the day:
Remember to find JOY in the process.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


As I begin to draw the Building Blocks for the Botanical Bioform series I’m starting to think about Texture. Today I am feeling inspired by these frozen natural textures found in my yard:

Frosted Grass

Icy Glass

Snow Covered Leaves

Pretty huh?

Apparently I’m not the only one fascinated with FROST!
I just sold two more
Frost Medallions! Yay!
I really wish I knew what it was that people liked about this collection?

Monday, January 15, 2007

BOTANICAL BIOFORMS: Concept and Inspiration

Concept - [Botanical Bioforms]
1. A general idea derived or inferred from specific instances or occurrences.
2. Something formed in the mind; a thought or notion.
3. A scheme; a plan.

Inspiration - [Wildflower Meadow]
1. Stimulation of the mind or emotions to a high level of feeling or activity.
2. An agency, such as a person or work of art, that moves the intellect or emotions or prompts action or invention.
3. Divine guidance or influence exerted directly on the mind and soul of humankind.

So far the progression of the Botanical Bioform series has involved a lot of thinking (Concept) and examining my meadow photographs (Inspiration).
The next step is to get organized and begin structuring the creative process. After sifting through thousands of my inspirational botanical photographs I have finally narrowed it down to a set of 50 images to work with. These are photographs of plants (seeds, pods, blossoms, leaves, etc.) that I have taken in my meadow and the surrounding woodland areas, as well as images collected from my favorite seed catalogs. The final 50 pictures have been chosen based on the following aspects: variety of shape, form and texture. The choice was also determined by the various life cycle stages each plant/object represented and lastly, the photos were selected based on how well the plants/objects worked together as a body/collection. This set of 50 images will serve as the primary reference used to create the drawings that will serve as the Building Blocks for the Botanical Bioform series.

Here are a few examples of the botanical photographs I plan to use as reference for the drawings:

Are you inspired? :)