Constructive Picture Formation with Emphasis on Natural Structures: a Senior Scholar Project in Studio Art

K. Girvin, Colby College


The project, Constructive picture formation with emphasis on natural structures, has been devoted to the process of painting as it relates to, and develops from Nature's structures and design systems. This project has developed as a result of my desire to integrate two seeming]y different interests: biology and art, beyond the immediate conclusion of biological illustration. In the painting process, I have focused upon my subject matter, looking at it over and over again as if dissecting it. Through this study I have learned more about both the organism and how it should be painted or drawn. I feel by exploring many different mediums: oil paint, ink wash, gouache, graphite, charcoal, and pastel, while looking at very similar, or in some cases the same structures, mostly shells and plants (angiosperms), I have been able to uncover a better sense for the identity of each medium and the way in which I relate to it and to the subject matter I'm working from. Particular principles integrating nature and art which I have focused on include, communication, evolution, development, and natural selection. ln my studies, especially from my shell paintings, I have been most amazed by Nature's abilities to create a maximum diversity with a minimum inventory. Each shell serves the same function and is composed of the same materials, yet carries with it its own personal history and development. In each organism there is a beauty which I strive for in my painting; the beauty comes from the understanding of the structure or system, and exposing the essence of it through painting or drawing.