Saturday, February 12, 2011

Is symmetry the enemy of good taste?

The German philosopher Nietzsche’s vision of hell was to be condemned to live one’s life over and over and over again into eternity. Endless repetition. Suffocating symmetry.

Of course, these things we already knew. We intuitively avoid repetition and symmetry in the landscaping of our yards, and in the organization of our flower gardens. We arrange pictures on our walls purposefully avoiding parallel lines, or any juxtaposition that would suggest geometric designs. The tiles that we lay, and the individual pieces of wood that we select when laying a floor must give the appearance of randomness.

My biggest challenge as an artist has been to ‘loosen’ my style, to allow the chaotic asymmetry of nature into my painting, jewelry, and home decorating. Organization was my personal artistic demon. It would never let my hand stray too far from perfection, or allow my mind’s eye to see into the possibilities offered by abstraction. This freedom to innovate, I had to acquire through fierce discipline.

Several weeks ago I stumbled upon an artistic device - a system for doodling, really - that seems to unlock the gates that separate symmetry and her unseemly cousin, asymmetry, allowing them to co-mingle. Zentangles enables one to begin a work of art in total chaos and randomness, then to give it structure and unity.

Pictured is a sampling of my Zentangles designs, made while watching TV one evening. The ‘templates’ for each design were objects within my field of view and the television screen. (Perhaps you will recognize our cat, Rusty.)

Next challenge: incorporating a Zentangles design in a copper etching or bas relief in bronze. I’ll keep you posted on that!


  1. Hi, I found your blog on the etsy blog team forum. I love the way you write and your jewelry is awesome!

  2. Thank you! I enjoyed seeing your wall art also!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...