“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty.”
— Henry Ford
The worlds of design, art and graphic production have all evolved very rapidly over the past 20 to 25 years. It has never been easier to create what you can visualize, then produce it at what seems like lightning speed.
Perhaps, though, we are losing the art of creating imagery using paint, pencil and paper.
With that in mind and the quote above by Henry Ford, I decided to push my limits a bit, dust off my pencil box and get back to some artistic roots. And by “roots”, I really mean it.
I am taking a class in botanical drawing.
To say it is going well is a stretch. I’m having a very difficult time slowing down and being patient with the process. It’s an entirely different world than what I’m used to. Compared to the sweeping, fast-paced use of charcoal and graphite sticks, botanical drawing is a tedious and exact process that requires sharp-pointed pencils and attention to subtle details.
We started with English ivy and willow sticks, and are moving into more flowering plants where we need to incorporate dry brush water color technique. This has tested my patience and put into question whatever talent I thought I had going in. The instructor is encouraging, which is good.
Along the way, though, I am learning many more new things. Did you know English ivy is an invasive plant to this area? While it is everywhere, it chokes out native plants and probably should be pulled out when possible. Did you also know that willow stalks are either male or female and that they will grow if you plant one of its branches?
Just a few more classes to go. I’ve promised my wife something suitable for framing for our guest bathroom. I do plan on coming away with something tangible. We’ll see if she finds my attempt suitable for framing.
I met Michael Stanard over 30 years ago when I walked into his Evanston design firm. He purchased a Nomadic Instand he designed for a client. About every year or so, I hear from Michael about a new project. It’s always great to talk with him.
Michael has been in Woodstock, Illinois for a number of years and his agency, One Zero Charlie, is a real class act. Recently, Michael designed and managed the production of a 118’ long outdoor mural for the city of Woodstock. Learn more about the development of the Woodstock on Film and on the Stage Mural by watching this video.
I applaud Michael and the artist on the successful installation of a mural that pushed the limits of the ordinary. Michael’s explanation in the video that good design is not a challenge or problem, but rather an “opportunity”, has made me look at what I do everyday in a new light. I hope that is reflected in how I work to provide more than just display “solutions” for my customers.
Henry Ford would be proud of both of us. Well, maybe more Michael than me, however.
If his next project needs some English ivy added to it, perhaps Michael will give me a call.