Monthly Archives: February 2013

Deborah Butterfield: Horses

The Weatherspoon Art Gallery at UNC-G has a sculpture garden with a Deborah Butterfield horse sculpture. I have seen some of her driftwood horse sculptures and thought she captured the essence of the horse in a quite way. A video of her discussing her exhibit : Deborah Butterfield Installation Walk-throughbutterfield-with-hockneys



Weekly Wrap: 2-22-13

Illustrating the 15 Properties on 5×5 pieces of paper and composing a presentation board that looks nice was good for me. I tried making the illustrations of the properties using weak colors and literal images which after a while I found frustrating. To bring all the different literal images together as a cohesive composition was not working, even with the similarity in color. With guidance and clarification I was shown by Stoel how to find something that I did want to work with from the 15 cards that I had made. The one card that I made using an elliptical template was one of three that I kept. Finally seeing that I could express the ideas of the properties through the common shape of the ellipsis was a huge breakthrough for me. It seemed so much simpler. I will remember that in future projects. It makes everything so much simpler. Then the hint of the color binding the ideas together easily makes the jump to a composition. Arrangement on the board was rushed and at the last minute I put the legend on the front, which I should not have done and it made the board not the best. A cut of the board and a more conscious arrangement of the 15 would make it much better. Too much space between and left over made the pieces seem disconnected. So, lessons learned. Photos to be added here.

Regarding our drafting I am also learning to see my mistakes and how to make the drawing look neater and consistent in letter size,
spacing, line weight hierarchy, poche’. Our vellum drawings will be due on Tuesday. I may do this again and look for more mistakes. I am sure they are there…

We are moving into 3-D models of the 15 properties. Totally unprepared I presented a model that illustrated I was unprepared. Sorry! I am making a model this weekend of an elliptical model that I will do gesture drawings with shadows. We are very busy!

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Posted by on February 23, 2013 in Class Notes 102 and 112


Renaissance :

The Renaissance comes to life as the Medici family rises to power in Florence, Italy. The Medici family rose from humble beginnings to become financiers of kingdoms, businesses and even the Catholic Church. The Medici family created a network of “friends” doing favors for the ordinary people as well as the well-connected. Peasants were welcome to present their problems and ask for help. This created a vast network of loyal friends who would fight for the Medici family when prompted. Lorenzo Medici was instrumental in the growth in artistic ventures all over Florence. He openly funded art that was controversial as seen by the Catholic Church. birth_of_venus_300px Boticelli became a very close friend of Lorenzo and was commissioned to create a new genre of art never seen before. Fantasy art depicting the pagan goddess Venus with human desire openly expressed was seen for the first time. “The Birth of Venus” was scandalous for the time and the priest Sabonarolla was a vocal critic of the wave of influence that Lorenzo Medici was commissioning.primavera_200px In religious paintings showing the Holy Family, Boticelli’s images of the holy family and adds members of the Medici family, kings, princes and other dignitaries again showing their influence. Boticelli also painted himself into the portrait depicting the baptism of Christ. Michelangelo, a young apprentice at a shop in Florence showed great promise and was eventually asked to move in to the residence of Lorenzo and become a member of the family along with his other seven children. He created many magnificent sculptures for the Medici family in his career. Leonardo da Vinci was another artist discovered by Lorenzo Medici. The great duomo contest was funded by the Medici family as well. The cathedral in Florence was left maimed with the construction of a dome incomplete. It was an embarrassment to the city and citizens of Florence so to find the best minds to submit plans for completion of the dome, a contest was held. italy-duomoThe completion of the dome by Bruneschelli placed Florence at the pinnacle of architectural dominance with the secretive calculations of Bruneschelli. The superior architectural skill helped Florence to grow as the citizens and visitors watched in awe the methods of construction that would beautify Florence. Based on the model of ancient Greek architecture in the Pantheon, the study of the ancients again influenced the future. The capitals and domes would be seen all over Florence. The rebirth of design models of the past is now known as the Florentine style.

China’s design history is rich with what I feel is technology that has been used in the development of designs in the West. We have learned about the Roman baths and how they used radiant floor heating systems in their baths to give the three areas of varying heat to the bathers but did China use the technology first? The kang is a system of a raised platform bed heated by hot air moving through pipes leading from the stove and leading to the outside area through a pipe.

Did a Roman visit China and come back with the method used in the Roman baths? I think they were heavily influenced by the Chinese! Another Roman design on the curule stool is the boss, which could indicate the power of a Roman symbol, but it was also used in China with the Fu, which is a symbol in the middle of a door with a symbol.220px-Curule_chair,_sella_curulis,_Museo_Borbonico,_vol._vi._tav._28 The similarity I feel is significant. Finally, the tracery of the Gothic cathedral glass work looks very much like the latticework of the Chinese doors that were covered in paper to keep the walls insulated.tracery Again, I feel a visit to China would have exposed Roman civilization to ideas that they could use in their own designs at home.

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Posted by on February 23, 2013 in History 221 Class Notes


Islamic Religious Buildings and Art

mosque plan
The Mihrab shows the faithful the direction facing Mecca, which is a vital part of their religion. Mihrab 2j The stunning tile work and craftsmanship of the mosques is quite breathtaking. This is a photo of the lovely blue mihrab, facing Mecca. Finally, the minaret is a feature of a mosque that is a tower placed high above the mosque which allows a person to literally call the people to prayer. Muslims who are fully practicing their faith pray five times at intervals throughout the day. The may pray at home or in a mosque but they must hold their commitment to prayer. minaret

Islamic design includes many techniques such as tracery, intarsia, marquetry, tile work, carving and the list goes on. The combinations of techniques at times is overwhelming to the senses as so many things are together in one design. One feature that I found so interesting from the Pile text is referencing that ” a characteristic of Islamic design is the avoidance of any depiction of human, animal or plant forms as elements of design or decoration, as required by the teaching of the Koran.” This led to the development of a purely geometric design format which would include calligraphy using texts from the Koran or other religious works. I feel this is significant in understanding the culture and how they view the world. calligraphy mosque
Important designs from the past:
Egyptian: Stools were the most common items of furniture in Egyptian homes, and it was the Egyptians who invented the folding stool. Since these were much used by army commanders in the field, they became a status symbol, and were often heavily carved and decorated. High backed chairs are seen in many paintings. These were supplemented with cushions for comfort. Both stools and chairs commonly had woven rush seats, which have long since disintegrated.src=”” alt=”egyptian-stool” width=”242″ height=”181″ class=”alignright size-full wp-image-502″ />
Greece: The curved, tapered legs of the klismos chair sweep forward and rearward, offering stability. The rear legs sweep continuously upward to support a wide concave backrest like a curved tablet, which supports the sitter’s shoulders, or which may be low enough to lean an elbow on. The seat was built of four wooden turned staves, morticed into the legs; a web of cording or leather strips supported a cushion or a pelt. The klismos was a specifically Greek invention, without detectable earlier inspiration.[3] The Klismos is one of the most enduring designs of all time with interpretations based on the chair still in use and production today.396px-Tombstone_Xanthippos_BM_Sc628
Rome: The curule chair was traditionally made of or veneered with ivory, with curved legs forming a wide X; it had no back, and low arms. Although often of luxurious construction, the Roman curule was meant to be uncomfortable to sit on for long periods of time. The curule chair was traditionally made of or veneered with ivory, with curved legs forming a wide X; it had no back, and low arms. Although often of luxurious construction, the Roman curule was meant to be uncomfortable to sit on for long periods of time. Possibly inspired by the inventions of the Egyptian folding stools. 220px-Curule_chair,_sella_curulis,_Museo_Borbonico,_vol._vi._tav._28
Middle Ages: The most important piece of furniture was the chest. The portability of the chest along with it’s practicality made it the one thing you really could not do without. Made of wood with intarsia and marquetry it was often hinged with ironwork and held valuables of the family. Still used today as a treasure chest and model for the safe and eventually the dresser. chest1-06
Spain: Ranging in time from the mid-1200’s to 1600, furniture of this style is vigorous, masculine, and even barbarous. Typical pieces were richly carved, painted, gilded, and inlaid with ivory in a Moorish manner. They used metal supports and ornamentations, nail heads, and chip or gouge carving techniques. Still used today as you can see in the ad here.
Moroccon furniture influence

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Posted by on February 16, 2013 in History 221 Class Notes


Weekly Wrap : Studio February 15th

This week we continued learning about and identifying examples of the 15 properties of good design and worked on our 5×5 cards. Our presentation boards are due on Wednesday. Learning to accurately draft has been a challenge, but I believe I am getting the hang of it somewhat. Learning shortcuts and how to work with the tools is making me see things more quickly.

Love Andy Goldworthy! My new favorite artist. He is so connected to nature he is almost not here. He is engrossed in his work and seems like he is in a trance when he is creating and working. what a happy place to be. His views on flow, time and change fascinate me.

I am sure we did many important things that I have not listed…oh the 3rd year Metropolis entries were fun to see. I hope someone from UNCG wins!

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Posted by on February 16, 2013 in Class Notes 102 and 112


History 221: Life in the Middle Ages

The Middle Ages are a very colorful time to be considered so dark!  The elegance and grandeur of the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans has faded and a new but recycled bit of design work is taking place.  The rules are still the same in some ways such as using materials you have locally, doing as much with as little as possible and sheltering your people.  As with other cultures before them the world at this time is searching for ways to tame nature, keep the food and water flowing as well as develop a sense of social hierarchy.  The Middle Ages saw the most innovation in the way of agricultural development and borrowed columns, arches and water systems from wherever they found them.  

Homes in the Middle Ages were the first to be used for communal living where employees lived in the home of their employer.  The great halls were the centerpiece of the home, a social space where everyone gathered, communicated and ate as one stratified cluster.  The fireplace and raised table were areas where you knew where to sit according to your social status.  If you were the head of the house you would sit in the chair, that usually would be at the end of a trestle and board table, at times covered with textiles that would show your wealth.  Textiles were used to cover very basic architecturally based designs for chairs that were plank construction, meaning exactly that, made of planks of wood, then covered for comfort and beauty.  The phrase “the chairman of the board” originates from the Middle Ages as the important man in the chair at the board, or table.  Chests were used to store valuables and the cupboard came into being as a place to store your cups on a board.  The development of the architecture of the time brought about the need and development of furniture to fill the spaces. The English are noted for their poor furniture design with an extremely heavy and uncomfortable style. Short, stocky columns filled with rubble was a practical use of building at the time as the society of the Middle Ages found their way to a lighter and more frivolous existence.

Smoke was a big problem in the homes of the Middle Ages.  Living in basically one large room has advantages and disadvantages.  There were openings in the rafters which allowed the smoke to work its way out eventually, but the invention of the chimney would change everything about living communally in the Middle Ages.  Having a central flue to allow the smoke to rise out of the house and not fill your house completely was met with discomfort in some cases as people actually would complain about the lack of smoke, as if it had insulated them from illness or added something comforting to the space.  Now separate rooms for the kitchen, living room and other rooms as allowing privacy to come into existence for really the first time.  Chimneys popped up all over with some boasting going on for who had the most chimneys.  They were the latest status symbol!  Use of ornate glass windows was also a new symbol of wealth and if you moved it was a common occurrence to take your windows with you to your new home and install them.  Social hierarchy was growing by the day as more and more leisure time allowed the wealthy to discover new ways to show off their wealth and power.

The Catholic Church was an enormous influence on the world during the Middle Ages.  Cathedrals and soaring Gothic arches looked like they were reaching heaven itself.  The light cast through the clerestory windows and the stained glass gave the ecclesiastical buildings of the time an ethereal feel as the “fingers of God” would stream into the cathedrals and capture the hearts of the people as they were taught about Christ.  The people of the time were mostly illiterate and were taught by the stained glass, stories of the bible and were led to the church by the glorious architecture that was didactic and helped to show the glory of God.   The basilica was similar in style to the Romanesque buildings with the rounded arches attributed to the Romans along with the Gothic pointed arches.  The wooden ceiling of the south were amazing in their intricacy and beauty.  Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey is one of the best examples of Byzantine architecture showcasing an enormous central space with a dome filled with pendentives and a circle of windows at the base. Multiple levels of arches supported by Byzantine capitals make this a stunningly elaborate church to behold. Constantinople, the capital of the eastern Roman Empire would develop it’s own style of design in architecture combining Romanesque qualities with more eastern influences in a fine example at Ravenna, the basilica with an octagon shape and breathtaking mosaics it is one of the finest examples of Byzantine architecture in existence. The mosaic of Justinian and Theodora is one of my personal favorites as they stand together, showing the strength of Constantinople. The didactic architecture and tile work educated the people of Byzantium and added to the sense of the eternal in Constantinople.

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Posted by on February 9, 2013 in History 221 Class Notes


Weekly Wrap: February 8th

This week we looked at Christopher Alexander’s book The Nature of Order and learned of his fifteen principles that make something have life.  It seems a bit thick at first, but after you get into his way of thinking it loosens up my brain enough to wrap around his somewhat abstract ideas.  Personally, I think he is great.  Obtuse but great. He is correct in my opinion of our diminished life in the things we are surrounded by in modern architecture and living itself.  We are disconnected from our own being in ways that are possibly irreversible.  Remembering that we are creatures that need to be connected to our environments is a first step.  We are making 5×5 images illustrating the principles that Alexander mentions.  Our drawings of the principle of levels of scale were interesting and it seems that we are understanding, although as always I complicate things and drew a fish with scales and levels of scales of scales…get my point?  I see levels of scale everywhere and maybe this was my attempt at humor.  So what else are we doing?  Oh, we are learning how to accurately draw a box that is unfolded and detail correctly the dimensions, lettering and features of this box.  It is more complicated than you would think!  Tommy says that box designers make loads of money.  Something to keep in mind.  We heard from two 4th year students about their experiences in IARc and what their future pursuits may look like.  Very nice job!  Today Sunnny (not her real name) from China told us about her experiences with product design and all about something I now have to go crazy with…biomimicry and biophilic design.  Sounds like things I would love to be involved in.  Also, I decided to move on design wise by taking down my shoji screens and take home a lot of the distractions on my desk.  Maybe it will help me simplify.  Vellum drawings are due on Tuesday!  Hope it is better than the last one I submitted.

Stoel Burrowes also shared his life with us by showing us his work, travels, pain and inspirations.  We are very lucky to have such an influence in our lives.  Remember:  When you go looking for a job, take your lunch!  Get ready to work!

Learning to draw and communicate ideas accurately and quickly on paper will be a big challenge for this semester.  I can do this…


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Posted by on February 8, 2013 in Class Notes 102 and 112