Sunday, June 18, 2017

Art Lessons from a Garden

Returning home from a cross country trip to visit family, Hubs and I stopped at a Visitors Center on Interstate 40 in western Arkansas. In front of the building there was a lovely garden, an oasis of beauty in the midst of concrete. While Hubs went inside to pick up a map, I grabbed my camera to join several other travelers snapping photos of the garden, one of the prettiest I've seen. Later, as I uploaded the photos to my computer, it occurred to me that this little garden had helpful lessons to offer visual artists. In addition to its visual beauty, like all good works of art it exemplified some of the elements and principles of design, bringing them to life in an arresting way.
A view of the garden from the parking lot

Warm colors predominate among the flowers in this section of the garden, but a closer look reveals the subtle influence of cooling purples and lavenders to the left

Here the spiky leaves of iris serve as strong counterpoints to the rounded forms of the shrubs and annuals

An interesting selection of colorful blooms points the way to the garden's center

In the garden's interior there is a dry creek bed made of native stone -- a visual surprise for the observer. Note how it, and the silvery leaves of the dusty miller, lead the eye toward a curve to encourage further exploration

Intense shades of red, rose pink and bright yellow catch one's attention first in this colorful vignette. The pale pink and light yellow flowers play supporting roles. The cluster of brightest colors is the focal point in classic position using the "Rule of Thirds."

Rough-hewn stone contrasts with soft ground covers and rounded shapes, while spiky and upright forms leaves offer variety, contrast and movement

A closer look yields more visual information. See the dainty purple flowers just beyond the daylily in the foreground? To the careful observer they're a reward for taking the time to study the garden closely, just as a good painting offers surprises to viewers who look beyond the obvious.
My thanks go to the state of Arkansas for providing such a nice welcome to travelers on I-40. The staff at this visitor center were most gracious and helpful, and the facilities were very nice as well. The garden out front, however, was a grace note that turned stopping in for a map a delightful experience for the soul and the senses. For creative types like myself, discovering a gem like this on a busy interstate is serendipity of the most gratifying order. It restored my road-weary psyche and lowered my blood pressure after hours of nerve wracking driving in "survival" mode. It also made me want to get home to my studio and re-introduce myself to my paints! If only there were more gardens like this one to soothe harried spirits, perhaps our world would actually become a kinder, gentler place.

Text and images ©2017 Lynn Edwards

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this break (brake?) for beauty, Lynn. Fun to see how the elements and principles are at work.