Finding Patterns

 

It could have been all the LSD, but I like to think it was during my early youth, on my back in the grass watching the clouds linger, shift and roll by.  I would playfully look for patterns and portent. Waves, swirls, the delicate filament of Cirrus, the hammer and anvil of thunderstorm, the dense mounds, domes and towers of the Cumulus gave thrill to the sense of being alive.  I found magic in these heavenly beings, forming then fading into the wind only to form yet again like some kind of dream and they are at the root somewhere of my thinking and looking at all types of patterns. 

There are patterns in my life, in my actions, in the things I see and in my art; patterns in the underlying structures, consistent reoccurrences in a regular manner.  I see them as skeletal at times, not easily visible but acting as organizational forces. 

The patterns of animals have always held me in rapt attention.  The symmetry found in a butterfly’s wings, in the color of fish, in hillsides, mountaintops, and rivers; in the stripes of a zebra and the blotches of a giraffe.  They are everywhere I look all I need to do is take the time to see.  

Patterns exist in my ways of thinking.  A snap to conclusion, feelings of anxiety, depression and doubt flow and course alongside the leaps of faith.  I am the sum total of all my experiences, the result of endless and countless interactions and occurrences.  These forces, these pressures and factors all exert power and influence in my life.  Habits repeated, repercussions, dominos, patterns ripple from depth to surface and back again.  Only in mindfulness have I found any clear path to unlocking this complicated jigsaw. 

I search for patterns in meaning.  There are subtle patterns in life that go unnoticed, defy logic, perception or reason.  Ancient Greek philosophers looked for universals and meaning in the world they found around them; they sought for patterns.  Mathematics looks to define and explain regularities of any kind.  Physics seeks to apply these abstracts to the real and tangible world.  Evolutionary patterns emerge in natural selection and reveal themselves in many ways.  There is a pattern evident when the one ancestral species evolves to become the many, when related species become increasingly dissimilar, or when unrelated species become increasing similar, adapting to the same kind of environment. 

There is a coevolutionary adaptive pattern at work when species change in close interaction.  Plants do this with insects, predator with prey, and parasite with host.  These patterns are all visible ways in which organisms adapt to their environment, occurring at times in an escalating arms race of defense to offense, offense to counter defense in continual cycle.  There are patterns to be found in many symbiotic relationships, each organism adapting to the other in tandem.  Patterns can occur in parallel or exist in analogous structure, morphologically and functionally similar but arising from different ancestral conditions.  Patterns serve as camouflage, in mimicry, signaling and sexual selection.  

Nature and life have been a great teacher to artist and art, its symmetries, spirals, meanders, waves, cracks and stripes are informing instructions and roadmaps in the ways of expression.  Lessons are learned in the observing of branching plants and rivers, the spirals of the galaxies I searched as a boy at night, the bubbles clinging to the surface of water, the gentle wave upon the shore, the wind rippling across the dune.  

These repetitions and rhythms create a sense of movement and harmony in my everyday life, in my subject, design and technique in painting.  The constant repetitive nature of placing one dot to the next in endless hours, coalesce into something new, forming swirls, and eddies, beetles and butterflies, fish, wave and sky.  There exist patterns in my clones, in the cells and the structures, in virus and mutation, in the abstraction resulting from natural inspiration.  As I paint and work with these patterns, explore the symbols, search for relevant meaning I am painting to define and comprehend.  Within lies the elusive manuscript to my soul, the outline of the book to my life.  They are painted from future to past in representational image or abstraction, broken apart, assembled and reassembled into a blue print of who I was, who I am and who I may yet become.