Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Patterns in Nature: Cedar - part 1

I plan to make this a regular feature on Wednesdays (life etc. permitting). It is a wonderful creative mental exercise to explore and learn from the colour and texture in the natural world, and even a simple photoeditor can be tremendously useful in the process of experiment and discovery.

Cedar is one of those plants that has become so ubiquitous in landscaping as to be scarcely noticed for its own beauty. Here on the west coast, of course, it is inextricably linked with First Nations art and tradition, and the few old growth giants passed over by the logging companies are awe-inspiring monuments of strength and history.

A close look reveals a branching pattern which would be lovely interpreted in twisted stitches (a future project):

cedar branching pattern

What looks at a glance like a monochromatic dull green, is in fact, a whole range of hues:

cedar close

The "squinty view"

cedar pixellated

reveals both a blue-green and a yellow-green range of hues.

Since a core principle of Fair Isle is the maintenance of consistent contrast between saturation levels, I tried playing with the saturation setting in the photoeditor. On the top is the blue-green palette, with the identical set of hues in saturated (left) and desaturated (right) form. On the bottom is the yellow-green palette with the desaturated version on the left, and saturated on the right.

cedar palette all four

I created a simple interlocking pattern of branches in order to play with the colour combinations.

Here is the saturated version of the yellow-green range set against desaturated blue-greens:

cedar colour pattern sat yellow

Saturated blue-greens against desaturated yellow-greens:

cedar colour pattern blue sat

Both ranges equally saturated - note in this case how the middle hues don't really contrast sufficiently:

cedar colour pattern both sat

If a uniformly saturated palette were imperative, one could experiment with eliminating the middle hue range, or toss in a complementary colour for extra spark - perhaps the reddish brown of cedar bark? There's infinite scope for play.


I must thank Charity for her recent comment, which made me laugh out loud. I had a vision of a scary Darth Vader-ish mom person stalking the house and breathing "mindfully" through gritted teeth. Only one more week now until reinforcements (ie. hubby and the moving truck with all the toys and books) arrive.