April 12, 2015  •  1 Comment

The winter of 2014-2015 has been odd. Never cold enough to kill the tiger moths in the cedars. Warm enough to stir the bees out of their hives in early March. Cheat grass came poking through the ground, then disappeared. Today I worked outside in a sweatshirt  and jeans, tucking tumbleweeds away and poking about the cheatgrass to pull some for the cats. They love to eat the grass, and I can think of no better end to it than their little tummies. 

In the fall I looked for textures on the trail by Confluence Park. Today I can only see the bits of green and a couple of little magenta flowers. I am anxious for color. The texture includes pine needles swarming over the driveway where we cut down the nematode-infested  pine. Branches shattered and piled to the side. The sky is hazy. Farmers are burning ditches, although most finished a few weeks ago. I’m looking for the patterns that forecast spring; the ground crumbling from patterns left by snow and freezing dirt, leaf buds, apricot blooms, tulip helixes as they leaves turn to the sun, hoping for warmth. 

Pattern is the repetition, variation, juxtaposition, alternating, and over-lapping of shapes, lines, and/or colors. There are a variety of patterns in nature, and contrived, (organic and inorganic) random repetition 2251random repetition Pattern in cloud and landscape. Organic forms on the hillside random repetition 2251random repetition Pattern in cloud and landscape. Organic forms on the hillside but they all fit in this list some way or another:


mosaics or nests



spirals - helixes and volutes


branching and circulation




A pattern can also be a model or mold intended to be copied

Examples of the ten types of patterns (just listed) are easy to find in some objects. Spheres are apples, the beads in a necklace, grapes. Flat, as in line, they are circles, rings, ovals, and spheric, a nest of eggs. 

The weather this year has been a pattern of sun, a few clouds, sun, a few clouds. The pattern on my dishes is a black rim. The pattern on my sweatshirt is block lettering. The pattern on a Hawaiian shirt is - oh, well. We see patterns everywhere if we look. 

The patterns of the tumbleweeds (silvery gray in the sagebrush) are not my favorites. They are pattern however. The spikes that catch in my gloves are an alternating helix pattern. The patterns the clouds make remind us of elephants and camels, and bicycles, all fluffy examples of each. The pattern the fawn’s bones make beside the rocky road edge tells a fortune - although a sad one.

Salvador Dali patterned his watches in ‘Persistence of Memory.’ Van Gogh painted the patterns the stars made in ‘Starry, Starry Night.’ Pattern carries the viewer through the painting, adds interest, clarifies information, and gives us something familiar to grasp, especially in an unfamiliar landscape like Dali’s.

Pattern is often times called motif. The theme in a design that carries it.  

We live with pattern everyday. We walk on patterned carpets, wear patterned ties. Our faces are a pattern in symmetry. Leaves on the trees form a pattern, trying to show us to draw masses, and uniting the clumps of them into patterns. Even the sand on the desert floor creates patterns in the wind, the light. Watch for it. Memorize natural patterns and incorporate them into paintings. Experiment with spirals and helixes. Look for them and welcome them home. They bring us peace and order, security, Pattern helps us with the pattern of breathing.


Your essay on pattern is lyrical as well as informative. I'll. pay more attention.
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