The shadow canvas

Yesterdays Project - TersiiskaIt’s a hard reality like compact snow in a clear air.  White and static in my mind.  I had shut the door and a thought to make a work of art.  Something big man.  A big canvas.  I’d read books biographic with grainy photos and small prints in blunt terms about artists who all seem to start with a canvas.  Picasso and Leonardo, Leonardo for sure, used to paint on walls, big walls.  Somehow I never never got started because it always meant having a canvas or a wall free of bookshelves and drawers of things leaning up against.

I visited the Menil collection and of course what you find are beautifully arranged rooms with big big canvas on the walls or big painting on the wall itself.  Cy Twombly must have thought – is it possible to make a bigger painting.  Thankfully he must’ve had heaps of rooms and room available for that awesome collection. But in addition there was an exhibition of Arctic art, lots of small things made of ivory or bone, like Netsuke from Japan, but different and ancient.

Between white and color, and possibly black or even photo black, the color of shadows.  How much a shadow can be art depends on the texture of the paint or the relief of the sculpture in the paint.  What better paint to make great shadows than white.  White is a beautiful shadow color.

Naturally for white to create shadows you need light off to the right and darkness on the other side of the door.  This way even with the door closed, you know you can see a blinding shadow at any time the door is opened, such is the strength of the white.

So with a little imagination I converted my wall to a canvas.  Not quite a Rothko.  Not anything like a Twombly.  Perhaps not even Picasso. It was easy really.  Just a can of thick ivory arctic white.  I started painting and having done the first coat it was just so great.  Shadows of chaos crept into my mind and introduced the concept of the art. Chaos and the butterfly fluttering through my imagination and Voila !! Frightening the imagination and trapping that fluttering pattern into the shadows of the wall. The canvas of shadows the butterfly behind the door.

Photo: Tersiiska:Flickr, All rights reserved.  Used with Permission.

The Menil Collection:


Design A Burger

Imagine that ! Design your own burger type joint. Aussie style would be “I’ll have a works burger – two eggs, and double beetroot thanks love!.”
Ingredients get thrown on the plate, and then after a short time with egg rings, salad, and a touch of bacon burning, you get your burger.

It is hard to find these kind of places in the USA. The burger has become not a simple food item bought on the way to somewhere, but something of an end in itself, with the idea of design it yourself burgers.

Last night, I managed to make it to a gourmet burger design restaurant with some work mates. We sat down and were handed menus. Having never had to design a burger before, i sat down with the pencil and ticked off a number of options.

From a design point of view, we were given 7 degrees of freedom of design, some optional, but for each degree of freedom of choice, there were many options, some of which could be combined.

Just a quick calculation – approximate now – we had around 37,241,747,201 burger variations, including the burger of the month choice, all for 3 standard prices. Amazing, really, that it would take that many burgers created to exhaust all possibilities on the do-it-yourself menu. I think its brilliant. The chance of anyone actually having had the exact same burger is pretty slim, but I guess many people would choose the same items through fear or force of habit, on the other hand, others might choose the most outrageous combinations possible.

BUT – I could not create an Aussie works burger out of all those variations possible.


Here is why –
– No beetroot
– No possibility to burn the bacon

Never mind, I love the thought of having created a great burger design, only ever to be made once, at high speed, eaten, and then forgotten, except perhaps somewhere in an electronic memory, at a gourmet Design A Burger joint – somewhere in time. By the way, I named mine “Fire Island” just for fun.

You only have to look at a great design to know…

so many times i get caught up in meetings and committees that hope to design without getting fingers burnt or hands muddy. Its as though pure thought on the right side of the brain can accomplish what God knew that could not. We have two sides of the brain, and in design we need to use both… don’t you think ?

Right, think of the Condor, I saw a few a couple of days back, and having read about them with static pictures in books, encyclopaedias, google etc… you get an idea. Not so bad, lots of nice words, a couple of photos, but there is nothing like seeing one, with its condor brain at work, flying, floating, a marvel in design, able to just work the air currents to its advantage… it’s acceleration and determination of eye so brilliant a design, and yet so close to extinction as well. I wonder what the bird thinks bout it all. But look I say, how much effort would it be to describe the requirements of design of a condor….

We used to have a joke at home… i dont know where i first heard it but it was God rolling out tubes of clay, saying, “These Earth Worms are Easy”.. and that is somewhat relevant to this post. Because intuitively we see a condor and we know its capacity, we see an earthworm and we know without reading its capacity, and we see any animal and we see a great design..

So when we want to innovate and describe somethinig knew and great, think about describing it in animal terms, or in terms that call to mind those great designs around us.