Tag Archives: green

What Lays Down that Dirt Road?

“The woods are lovely, dark and deep.

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,” – Robert Frost


Thus wrote Robert Frost in the last stanza of Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.   It is not unusual for one artist using a medium such as painting or photography to use another medium such as poetry or sculpture to inspire a work of art.  This happened when I saw this unknown country road in the piney woods of East Texas.


Country Road is an artistic work of mystery.   It develops a sense of interest in what lays down that dirt road.  The woods have both a dark foreboding feel to them and an almost inviting quality that inspires interest and investigation.


Do we rise to the challenge and satiate our curiosity?  Can we alter our preconceived notions of what may lay down this enchanting dirt path?  The constant themes of duality push us on.


A farm may exist on the other end of this forest or even a lost foreboding decaying confederate cemetery. Anything is possible in these areas of Texas.


You might guess a small town carved out of the green woods and growing underbrush impressing any “city folk” with its lack of size?  People who live in metropolitan areas are so often thoroughly shocked on how small towns or villages are so, well small.


The road with brownish red dirt and the tire tracks caused by many pick-up trucks become a human element.  Yet, this road contrasts completely with the dark natural forest in its greens and wooden greys.  The forest, or the natural world, indeed challenges the human element of the clay road.  The trees and vines push on the sides of the road and nature even encroaches in the middle of the path.  A tuft of green grass barely visible and only where the tire tracks have not pounded the Texas soil into the hard clay.  This action suggests that nature refuses to yield to humankind.

This photographic work is a captured slice of a summer afternoon.  It remains a permanent comment on the duality and conflict of man vs. nature, mystery vs. knowledge, and how something so dark appears lovely to us with untold of miles to go in our journey thru photographic art.  Country Road asks the question. What lays down that dirt road?

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Nature’s Puzzle Fun: Sunflowers and Shapes

This sunflower is an amazing example of living geometric engineering. I know of several middle school math teachers that would giggle with delight at this mouth-watering choice of shapes and forms.


As you view the sunflower carefully, the discovery of cones, triangles, circles and even pentagrams suddenly show themselves in a magical and alluring way.  Nature creates a puzzle of various designs and structures all the while implementing them in a living plant.


The amazing thing is the shapes found inside each shape.  Notice the focus on the band of black cones, each ending with 3 dimensional shapes in a star pattern on top.  All of those star patterns connect to a cone shape that sprouts majestically from a small pentagram.  Yet, all together, they form a sweeping black band in a semi-circular pattern that divides the work and flower into each part.


This band separates the ever-increasing density of the sloping conical-shaped face and the flat expanding petals of the flower.  Even the colors divide into separate areas due to that black and yellow band.  Nature even allows colors to join in this dance of geometry.  The sun-kissed greens of the undeveloped seeds slope towards the more traditional sunflower yellow of the petals.  Indeed, the sunlight striking the petals actually enhances our perception of the color changing from green to black towards yellow.


Only nature exists in such a perfect form.  All of these shapes and colors exist for attraction.  Sure, we has humans enjoy the fragrance, sight, and complexity of the flowers but it irresistible to the insects like butterflies and bees that the plant wished to attract.  Such beauty allows a perfect winning scenario. The sunflower becomes pollinated, the insects get a meal, and we get to decorate and have a snack of sunflower seeds.  Perfect wins all around!

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They Follow the Sun!!!

The first real cold front of the season has finally rolled through the area, meaning we no longer have to suffer in 90 degree or more heat,  and I thought now would be a good time to say goodbye to summer.

During my exploration of the local sunflower field this summer,  I couldn’t help but notice that all the sunflowers were facing the same direction.  It was a curious sight and gave an impression that the entire field was “looking” at something.   After a little research at The Naked Scientists website , I had my answer.

I discovered that the sunflower tracks the sun through the sky during the day. Since the flower has no muscles, if manages to do this by growing cells in the stem on the eastern part in the morning, facing the sun, and the western part in the afternoon, following the sun.  By the end of the day the stem, once re-balanced, repeats the process in the morning.  This gives it the appearance that it follows the path of the sun. This odd behavior helps insects.  Facing the sun with those large flower heads causes the flowers and the seed area to warm up quicker than the surrounding plant.  Insects depend on this warmth to help regulate their body temperature and thus become more active.  So, they visit the flower more often.  Being more active on the flower means a greater chance of the flower being pollinated and reproducing.  It also means you get great fine art!  I love it when everyone wins.

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Why Are Pagodas in Zen Gardens?

Why do they put pagodas in Zen gardens?  What is a Pagoda anyway?

To the western mind a pagoda is similar to a cathedral. During the Middle Ages in Europe the Christian Church had a problem.   The Crusades into the holy land produced a rather lucrative market for holy artifacts and relics of the various saints.  Worshipers felt that these relics provided healing, prosperity and happiness if people prayed in their presence.  So, Church leaders started building cathedrals, shrines, and monasteries as a constant reminder of God, his saints, and the power of the church.

A pagoda is an Asian counterpart. Buddhist missionaries and laymen built pagodas to help spread the teachings of Buddha. Various sized pagodas are found from Bangladesh to South East Asia and China through the Korean Peninsula to Japan.  These structures housed important ashes or sacred relic of the Buddhist traditions.

Thus, the ability to shrink one down and place it in a garden as a statue is as natural as finding a cross, or statue of a saint in a Christian meditation garden.  It is a reminder to focus on the teaching, stories, or ideas the garden represents.

Pagoda designs descend from and contain local cultural alterations in appearance from the early Buddhist stupas found in India.   Pagodas are a place of gathering and a physical reminder of the teachings of the Buddha.  It is worth noting that Taoists also use pagodas for their shrines and artifacts too.

Most pagodas are found inside temple complexes of varying sizes and contain various shrines.  The taller pagodas are generally fitted with a metal roof  “hat” that made them susceptible to lightning strikes.  This was often on purpose to give that extra dramatic “pow” of the divine when lightning struck the tower.

These structures last.  Their designs are well suited for extreme natural conditions such as typhoons, lightning, and even earthquake prone regions.  Only a major fire has any real chance of destroying these structures.

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For further information about Pagodas try








I used both sites and a little history knowledge as references to this article.


Pictures are powerful reminders and art the creates an emotional response with the viewer.  As a photographic artist I enjoy putting the two together.  My camera is my easel and paint brushes where I can create memories and emotions tied to past events.   If you look at art closely it often begins to ask you questions.  Sometimes it asks questions about your past.


Memories work in a strange way.  Most of the time you only remember small amounts of your past, but what I find interesting is the triggers.  I mean, why would a picture in some old dusty tome from the 1980’s come out of viewing a work of art that I had created almost 30 years later?


This portrait of a delicate leaf catching the glowing mid-morning sun did just that.   When I saw it’s final form, I thought back to the different world of the 1980’s.  Sitting there in a high school classroom desk wishing the world was different.  I experienced boredom at the highest possible level.  Of course it was high school and I was always mind numbingly bored.


So, in trying to arouse my interest in something, anything, other that what the teacher was droning on about, I picked up my biology book and just started thumbing through it.  Anything to get me to the dismissal bell and out of there with my sanity intact.


That’s when I discovered a beautiful picture of a leaf.   Specifically, the picture was the underside of a leaf drenched in sunlight with the word Photosynthesis written in bold letters across the top.  My curiosity increased, so I started reading the blend of information most textbooks of that time period offered.


That memory is still amazing, given the time that has passed.  But my attempt to beautify the underside of a leaf developed into more that I had bargained for.  For no sooner had the wisps of the leaf picture memory past, it quickly replaced with the memory of that same teacher being bitten by the class pet python.


Seems, the teacher had wanted to change the mouse cage before the snake cage  and placed the little furry rodent on her shoulders at the same spot she soon placed the snake.  But that is another story for another time.


Ah, the memories.   Anyone else remember their least favorite or most favorite classes from high school?    What’s your story?

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