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 www.WelcomeBackToOtterville.ca 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

 

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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

SquareFootShowEvite

New Fractals

I’m excited to have some new fractal art to show you in a week at the Oxford Studio Tour.

We have thirty-one artists at seventeen locations throughout Oxford County, Ontario, Canada in the heart of the southwestern part of this province.  It will be a fun day trip for anyone in the region – even those coming out from Toronto! (Wouldn’t it be nice to get out of the city for a day or two?)

Here is a preview of one of the fractals.  I have printed it (using Posterjack) on metal, 20×20″ and that is the only print I will do, so it is an original piece.  It is created digitally using the Mandelbulb 3D software.  As I find usual and striking for fractals, it looks very natural. It is pretty obvious what I thought it resembled!  I hope you’ll come and see it.  I think it would make a great piece to gaze at from anywhere in your house, while you consider nature and its mysteries, and it draws you in close, as well – as all fractals do with their self-similarity on smaller and smaller scales.

I call this one Ocean Floor:

Ocean Floor. Digital Fractal Art. Lianne Todd.

Ocean Floor. Digital Fractal Art. Lianne Todd.

 

Welcome to my Studio/Gallery!

Some of you may not be familiar with Welcome Back to Otterville.  Every year the little rural town I live in hosts a studio tour the third weekend in November.  This is our 19th year.  It’s one of the reasons we chose to settle ourselves here ten years ago rather than in some of the other nearby communities.  Now I am so fully entrenched in the planning that I design the postcards and posters.  My friend Sue Goossens is the founder and main planner though.  She has done a lot of work over the years and we thank her! Otterville is full of artistic talent and many of the people on the tour are now long-time friends. Others are new on the tour this year and I look forward to meeting them… some other weekend maybe. 🙂

My studio/gallery, which is at the back of my house (go up the driveway and in through the patio doors from the deck), will be open from 10 am to 5 pm on Saturday November 21 & Sunday Nov 22, along with the other stops on the tour.  Here is a convenient sampler of the stops, and here is a map to help you find us.  Once you get here, yellow flags will act as markers to guide you. We also have a Facebook page you may like to follow.  I will, of course, have my fractal art on display, as well as many of my more traditional watercolours.  And, I will welcome you with hot cranberry wassail to help combat the colder weather.

See you then!

WBTOCardFront2015smP.S. I kind of wish the tour was on a week or two ago, when the falls (steps from my house) looked like this.

Otter Falls, Otterville, ON KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Otter Falls, Otterville, ON KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Show Reprisal!!

I haven’t written in a little while but I now have some great news for followers in the area who haven’t had a chance to see my fractals in person yet.  I am showing those that are left (31 pieces) at the Station Arts Centre in Tillsonburg for the month of March.  The show opens March 6 (this Friday) at 7-9 pm.  It runs until April 7.  The show is called, this time, A Fractal Universe.  Come land in it!

AFractalUniversegraphicwb

Open Studio/Gallery

On the third weekend in November, every year, we hold a studio tour in my town.  Otterville is a historic town located in Southwestern Ontario, Canada.  This will be our 18th annual studio tour – we call it Welcome Back to Otterville – and every year the stops on the tour change slightly as the artists in town do.  This year, there are eight stops on the tour, so it will be really easy to drive out, see all the stops, and return home if you live in, say, London, Kitchener/Waterloo, Stratford, or the western part of greater Toronto.  It takes me less than an hour to drive to London, and about two hours to downtown Toronto, exactly an hour to Stratford.  We aren’t on any major highway, but if you want directions please contact me and I’ll be happy to provide them.

If anyone reading this has been to my studio before, you will find this year quite different as I will be featuring my fractal work prominently.  In fact, in the next few weeks I’ll be taking down all the art in my gallery at the rear of my house, and completely rearranging the walls to maximize the display.  I always serve a lovely hot spiced cranberry punch during the tour, and I’m looking forward to the taste of it myself!

My gallery and studio are actually open all year to anyone who calls ahead or happens by on an afternoon when I’m home.  I’ve just put a new sign out front (the old one suffered from weather damage) so you can easily find my location which is right on the Main Street downtown, just a few houses away from the historic mill and waterfall.  Look for the yellow flags when you get here and use the map on the postcards (available at each stop) to help.

Here is some information for the tour, and a few photos.

If you find our Facebook page and “Like” us, or any of our posts, we would really appreciate the extra advertising and traffic that provides us – as you can imagine we are on a limited budget and every bit helps!

WBTO2014frontforweb

WBTO2014backfinalforweb

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAKONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

 

The ‘rose’ and the creation process.

See the “rose” in the header of this blog?  It’s a selected portion of one of the first fractals I ever generated, using one of the many programs available for such purposes.  It was a completely random occurrence, really.  I was playing around with formulas, and voila!  One of nature’s most recognizable shapes, noted for its beauty, appeared before me.  A little colour tweaking, some removal of extraneous image parts, and there it was.

This is the wonderful thing about working with fractals.  It becomes readily apparent that mathematics is truly the language of the universe.  The fractal rose is not one of the pieces of art I’ll be showing at the upcoming exhibit in London, but it symbolizes the exhibit very well, which is why I have chosen it for my promotional materials.

Mathematicians have spent a good deal of time and effort to demonstrate the fractal geometry of various parts of nature, tweaking formulas for the very purpose of modelling it.  This has (in most cases) involved an analysis of natural shapes and distributions prior to the effort of coming up with a formula.  I, however, am not a mathematician.

Most of my images start on a whim. I should qualify this with the statement that I am standing on the shoulders of the people who have created the software I use.  Without their brilliance I wouldn’t be able to do any of this.  So… my images start on a whim, and they continue with further whims (what happens if I change this?), and even further whims.  The possibilities really are endless.  If the image strikes me, I render it in high resolution and save it.  Sometimes I save the parameters as well, sometimes I don’t. So, in a way, I am the natural selector, deciding which image survives, which parameters get passed along to the next selection process.  It never ceases to amaze me how often I am confronted with an image that triggers recognition of something that exists in our universe – or at least, the universe within my imagination.  These are the ones that are most likely to be selected for the creation of my art.  The next step is the editing that occurs before I consider a digital piece finished (sometimes several images are combined into one piece), or, the painting of the image that I was inspired by.  The paintings require a great deal of patience to execute.  I draw them on the paper (or gessoed paper, or aquabord) freehand, but I start with very precise measurement of the positions of the largest features.  I decide which pigments are best to represent what I like about the digital image, and if there is any element I don’t like and wish to change or omit.  Then comes the sorting out in my brain of the pattern, and how it repeats on smaller and smaller scales, and exactly how small of a scale it is possible for me to keep painting this pattern.  It is like a puzzle and I’m drawing the pieces and fitting them inside each other, to the limit of my brush size and my eyesight (and my resolve).  The results are very satisfying but I am usually at the end of my rope by that point and have to switch to my traditional paintings for a while just to retain my sanity!  This is one reason why this upcoming show is the culmination of three years of work.

Ultimately, all of my fractal art, digital or paintings, or photographs of nature, comes from the place in my brain where reality meets imagination.  A place where the universe seems to reveal itself to the part of my brain that can imagine both its most vast and its most infinitesimal features, and how they relate to each other.

I hope my fractal art will trigger your imagination as well!  Stay tuned (follow my blog  please!) and don’t forget to save the date:  July 8, 7-9 pm for the opening, and the exhibit runs until July 19, at The ARTS Project in London, ON.  (See previous post for more info)