Not-so-alien Vegetation

Have you ever wondered if there is any other life out there in the universe?  I think there must be.  The universe we can see contains around 100 – 200 billion galaxies and it is estimated that is only ten percent of what it actually contains.  That’s just galaxies – each galaxy contains perhaps 100 billion stars.  I don’t know about you but I have a hard time wrapping my brain around numbers that large.  The odds against this being the only planet to support life of some kind are huge.  So, then one wonders, what would alien life look like?  We’ve seen so many science fiction movies, now, where others have imagined it, and they’ve done a really convincing job.  It’s amazing, really, what our minds can come up with.

But what if we leave it all to the mathematics?  If fractal geometry is the geometry of nature, let’s assume that all nature, not just that of planet Earth, is governed by it.  I find it really fun to create a little ‘planet’ using Mandelbulb 3D, and then explore it, finding scenes that remind me of Earth.  I’ve done this before with ‘Climb it, Change’, ‘There is Always a Bridge’, ‘No Port in Sight’, ‘Ocean Floor’, and many more that I haven’t shown anyone yet. This one I call ‘Coniferous Tree on Planet B’. Obviously the ‘coniferous tree’ isn’t the only bit of vegetation on this particular ‘planet’.  I see vines, and cabbage-shaped types of vegetation, and driftwood – but you might have to come see the piece in person to appreciate all that.  Next weekend is the 11th annual Oxford Studio Tour and I am at Location #4.  Why not come out and see it for yourself?

Coniferous Tree on Planet B. Digital fractal art printed on metal, single print. 24×32″. Artist Lianne Todd. $525.00

This is the first piece of fractal art I’ve created and shown that isn’t square, but rather a landscape format.  I hope that doesn’t throw anyone off!




I cannot wait to show you this latest piece in person.  Some images conjure up abundance, richness, and decadence, and this is one of those images. There is plenty here for your own imagination to work on, but you won’t be able to properly see it unless you come to my studio!  Lucky for you, my studio is often open, all you need to do is contact me.  But even luckier, there are a whole bunch of studios open on May 5 & 6 in Oxford County, and mine is one of them!  I am at Location #4. 

This image you see here is a mere fraction of the size I have printed it – 24 x 24 inches.  As usual, I only have one print made of each fractal piece, on metal (or sometimes acrylic), so each is an original.  Although, I think this would make a great metal album cover don’t you?

Feast. Digital Fractal Art printed on metal, single edition print. 24×24″. Artist Lianne Todd. $425.00



A Matter of Scale

There exists a very old phrase, ‘as above, so below’.  Its meaning is interpreted in various ways, depending on where you look.  Its source is generally attributed to Hermes, though according to some, it is probably even older than that.

According to Wikipedia, the full quote translated from Hermes ‘ The Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus, as translated by Dennis W. Hauck, is “That which is Below corresponds to that which is Above, and that which is Above corresponds to that which is Below, to accomplish the miracle of the One Thing.”

Isaac Newton translated the Emerald Tablet’s passage as follows: ‘That which is below is like that which is above & that which is above is like that which is below to do the miracles of one only thing’  (according to Quora).

I don’t know exactly where I first heard the phrase, but it certainly popped into my head a lot as I began to explore fractal geometry.  The more I learn about fractals and about the cosmos, the more I see similarities between large scales, like the universe, and small scales, like an atom.  Perhaps an easier example to envision is the similarity between say, a river drainage pattern and the venation in a leaf.  After all, fractals are often self-similar on smaller and smaller scales.  It is one of the ways in which fractal geometry was discovered by Benoit Mandelbrot.  My cursory understanding of such things, as an artist whose education was mainly in biology, does not diminish my enthusiasm for humanity’s search to find a Theory of Everything.  Whenever I see a Physics article in my various news feeds, I am struck by either their use of illustrative images which I recognize from experience as being generated fractals, or how much the actual images generated by their physics experiments resemble generated fractals.  Maybe someday the ideas will all fit together.  Until then, I will continue to happily make my art and notice how in reality, sometimes it is tricky to know what the scale of an image is.

This piece will be on display in my gallery this weekend during ‘Welcome Back to Otterville’, our town’s 21st annual studio tour.  Please visit for details of the tour, including maps and times.

microcosm or macrocosm?

A Matter of Scale. Digital Fractal Art, printed on metal. 20×20″. Single edition print. Artist Lianne Todd. $325.00


There is always a bridge.

We live in a very divided political landscape these days.  There are a great many vocal people on both the left and the right, and sometimes it is difficult to imagine we can find any common ground with each other.

I helped found, and am the publicity director for, the Canadian branch of the International Watercolor Society (IWS Canada).  Our mission is to “promote peace, harmony, love, understanding and acceptance of each others’ differences” through the medium of watercolour.   We recently held a contest in which we asked people all over the world to express ways in which they celebrate.  We asked what celebration meant to them.  Many interpreted the question as ‘what’ do you celebrate, rather than ‘how’. In a way, we were asking for participants to build a bridge for us so we could learn about their cultures.  It has meant we’ve interacted with 1450 people all over the world.  It may be a small contribution to peace, and love, but many small contributions add up!  The 150 finalists chosen by our four jurors can be seen on our website (thanks to the hard work of Ona Kingdon, Elizabeth Franchetto Irvine, and myself ;)), along with the videos in both English and French made by our president, Ona.  We recognize, of course, that all art forms “can bring people together despite differences in race, religion, culture and distance.” We just happen to especially love watercolour.

As you know, I also happen to love digital fractal art.

This piece of mine illustrates a landscape full of great divisions, but wherever there is a chasm, the fractal algorithm has built a natural bridge.

Fractal landscape, natural bridges

There is Always a Bridge. Digital Fractal Art printed on metal, single edition. 20×20″. Artist Lianne Todd. $325.00

What if we did that?  What if each of us made it our business to build a small bridge wherever we see a chasm we can’t fill (like in that song by Sting!).  Our hearts can be open without compromising our ideals. We don’t have to have “fortresses” around them.

Anyone who knows me knows I love to argue (not fight), just for argument’s sake.  So it may seem odd to them – me talking about building bridges.  But my arguments are never meant to hurt or cause strife – they are meant to bring more understanding, both for me and for the other person.  It really saddens me when that isn’t the outcome, as is sometimes the case.  There is always a bridge that can be built or found.  We can’t/won’t always cross the bridges, and can’t expect others to cross over to us either, but at least we may get a little closer to seeing the others’ point of view, and sometimes we can meet in the middle.

Ethereal Visions

Before I begin to introduce this new piece, I would like to thank all of the nice people who visited my studio/gallery this past weekend for the Oxford Studio Tour, and showed such fascinated interest in my fractal art.  You really do help me keep the inspiration fresh!

As you may know, clouds exhibit fractal geometry.  Mandelbrot’s famous quote:

“Clouds are not spheres, mountains are not cones, coastlines are not circles, and bark is not smooth, nor does lightning travel in a straight line.”

is certainly a confirmation of that if you needed it.  That quote is from the very first paragraph of his book The Fractal Geometry of Nature and he discusses the topic in several places throughout it.

I took the photo of these clouds at sunset one evening here in Otterville.  Living down close to the historic mill in this little town, we don’t always get the best view of sunsets, but every now and then there is a spectacular one that must be photographed.  And of course since I am interested in the cloud geometry, I also like the way it is highlighted by the colours.

It seemed like a very natural place for this fractal, created in Oxidizer, to occupy.  The shape immediately brought to mind something happening in the sky, perhaps a place Zeus would be.  There was an obvious (to me) song title that came to mind too, and perhaps you can guess what it was, or maybe not.  But it didn’t quite interpret this the way I wanted, and I was stumped for a while trying to think of a title.  I liked the little spirals and the curved shapes reminded me of somersaults, and I still felt there was a musical component.

After having it printed on acrylic, and hanging it on my gallery wall, I showed it to my son, and asked him what he thought I should call it.  It didn’t take him very long to say “Aerials” and although the word on its own is ideal, I immediately knew he was referring to the song by System of a Down.  It is on their Toxicity album.  I confess I only know it (and all the other metal that I like) because of my son, but it is truly one of my favourite songs of all, and I hope they don’t mind me naming this piece of art after their music.  I agreed with him that it is the perfect title.  I don’t know why I didn’t think of it myself.  My suggestion is that you first go find and read the lyrics.  Then listen to the song.  I think you might agree too.

fractal, ethereal, sky, Lianne Todd

Aerials. Digital fractal art printed on acrylic, single edition. 20×20″. Artist Lianne Todd. $360.00

Awaiting the Tourists!

Hey everyone, the 10th Annual Oxford Studio Tour is this weekend, May 6 & 7!  That’s just in case I haven’t reached you yet… I have been so busy promoting the tour on its website, and on Facebook and Twitter, I almost forgot to post on my own blogs!

As you may know, my gallery/studio is Location #3 this year.  There is another near me, Location #4, and we are always happy when studio tourists make the trip out to the southeast corner of Oxford County, Ontario, to see us. Here is a peek at what you’ll find when you get here.

The entrance to my gallery is at the rear of the house:

I’m still saving the new art for when you get here!  😉

Have you seen our posters or picked up a brochure yet?  They are in libraries, tourist offices, and many nice businesses in and surrounding the county.  You could also get one from the first artist you visit.  This is what they look like:

But here is the basic information to get you started, and our website is full of maps as well:

New designs…

It came to my attention recently that my site was not terribly friendly for those who are unaccustomed to reading blogs, and that I should make the images of my work more accessible to the attention span of the casual visitor.  So, I spent a little time the other day doing just that.  The home page is now a static gallery of my fractal work, and the blog has its own new page on the menu.  Please have a look at the newly designed site – is there anything that you as a viewer would suggest to improve it?  I am open to suggestion – although there are of course limits to what I can do since I am using a template.

Now, it’s time for me to introduce another fractal that you may not have seen yet.  I’ve exhibited it already but you may have missed it.  This one was difficult to title.  What I saw in it first, changed for me, until I was seeing it a number of different ways.  Perhaps that is why it appeals to me so much.  I decided it deserved a name fitting its ‘behaviour’, one that would allow the viewer to perceive it their own way as well.  So, I called it “Indeterminate”.  This image is a small watermarked version of the digital image used to create the piece of art, as photographing the final art printed on acrylic proves difficult with all the reflections.  If you’d like to tell me what you see in it, I would love to hear – but please do it in a private message using the contact page.  I would like all viewers to see it with fresh eyes uninfluenced by the perceptions of others!

Indeterminate. Fractal Digital Image. Available as an original single edition print on acrylic, 20x20". Lianne Todd. $360

Indeterminate. Fractal Digital Image. Available as an original single edition print on acrylic, 20×20″. Lianne Todd. $360

Halls Creek Festival

September 10 & 11 is the Halls Creek Festival of Creativity in Ingersoll, and I will be participating again!

This festival was good fun last year and I kind of wished I was one of the attendees rather than an exhibitor – lots of learning and creating going on all over the place, and great live music most of the time.

I plan to have some of my fractals there – last year I ONLY brought the fractal metal prints – but I think I will also bring some paintings of fractals this year and some other paintings as well.  I also hope to do some painting while I’m there.

Check out the website for details.


Alien Architecture

Associating fractals with architectural design is not a new thing – I don’t make any claims there.  In fact, fractal geometry was used as a basis for the design of places to live long before we had a name for it – especially in Africa. There’s a TED blog about this very thing – just search for fractal architecture and you’ll find it.

I, however, like to make fractals using no intent, then capture images according to what my imagination lets me see.  The fantastic universes I am able to explore have their own landscapes and their own architecture, and the “creatures” that some of the flame fractals reveal are alien yet familiar.  I like placing them in the alien worlds and imagining what might be unfolding.

For the Square Foot Show at the Westland Gallery in London, Ontario, I created two pieces of fractal art, each a 12×12″ metal print, with a hint at alien architecture in common.  Keep in mind these photographs are of the metal prints themselves.  As usual, they are tough to portray in photography because of the reflective surface, and you really need to see them in person – preferably in good light.  For one reason or another these both ended up on the bottom row of the wall at the gallery – not ideal when they look their best with light bouncing into your eyes!  However, there is literally more wonderful art per square foot in that gallery right now than there is for many galleries all year.  This is a great show, and the opening night was packed with people.  You could barely move around.  It also happened to be pretty hot and humid that day – so many of us ended up just outside the door fanning ourselves.  The ice cold drinks were going fast!

The show is on until August 12.  Go check it out if you can.

Occupant. Digital Fractal Art printed on metal, single edition print. $185. Lianne Todd

Occupant. Digital Fractal Art printed on metal, single edition print. $185. Lianne Todd

Beacon. Digital Fractal Art printed on metal, single edition print. $185. Lianne Todd

Beacon. Digital Fractal Art printed on metal, single edition print. $185. Lianne Todd


An Archetypal Image

I think I have mentioned before how I see many fractals as somewhat archetypal in nature.  We have, in our decorative past, incorporated many motifs that turn out to be quite common in fractal geometry.  The swirls and whorls, the spirals and branches, the radiating patterns… it is like we knew about fractals before we knew about fractals.  But of course we did, didn’t we?  Because fractals are the shapes of nature, and we are a part of nature ourselves, and surrounded by it.  We noticed the regular and irregular natural patterns around us and we appreciated them.  We began to find them beautiful. Then we began to associate them with ideas, and some of them became symbolic.

This particular fractal is one of those ones that seems to be archetypal.  Of course the cross shape, as a symbol, is much more ancient than the Christian religion.  This is more complicated than a simple cross, though.  What other associations does your mind bring to this image?

Symbol.  Digital fractal art on metal.  Single edition print. 16x16". Lianne Todd

Symbol. Digital fractal art on metal. Single edition print. 16×16″. Lianne Todd

I hope you’ll come out to my studio this coming weekend during the Oxford Studio Tour to see this piece and more.