organic art at malibu

or·gan·ic  (ôr-gān’ĭk)


Deb Haugen "organic art"


1          Of, relating to, or derived from living organisms: organic matter.

2          Simple, healthful, and close to nature: an organic lifestyle

3          Resembling a living organism in organization or development; interconnected: society as an organic whole.

4          Constituting an integral part of a whole; fundamental.

5          Involving organisms or the products of their life processes.

I first thought about the concept of “Organic Art” while walking the creek bed behind my home in Malibu, Ca.  I wanted to capture on canvas the feel of  hiking the trails, or exploring the creek.  I wanted to convey my response of nature, something that had a truly innate natural look and feel to it.  To take it a step further, I wanted to show the fundamentals of nature that we see daily, that are so strikingly familiar to us, and their relationship to time.  I’m also intrigued by micro assemblages, tucked just below the surface, unusual hidden worlds.  Macro and micro organic happenings are ongoing constantly, natural occurrences that also have to do with the passage of time.  Time reveals itself through rotted wood, new growth, death, strata on the side of a mountain wall, all these things show the evolution of our Earth, organic markings of the passage of time.

Now, mix these with feelings of emotion, physical movement of an artist responding to nature, and you have what I call….Organic Art.  It is an artist’s vision of nature, nature’s movement through time, and that particular artist’s feelings, and responses.  I want the viewer to re-live an atmospheric memory in their relationship to nature and my artwork.

Organic art can also be termed “Organic” by the materials an artist is using.  Artists use organic pigments, leaves, branches, berries, stones, etc.  An assemblage of natural materials, a sculpture in wood or marble, stones stacked/placed along side a river…or even crop circles, they are all examples of what I would term Organic Art.

– Deb Haugen

Read more about Deb Haugen and her Organic Art at her website
Or visit her blog at

color for its own glorious sake


Harold Cohen, Untitled 1966
Oil on canvas
30.4 x 30.8 cm

English artist Harold Cohen is famous these days for being the author of the celebrated AARON program, an ongoing research effort in autonomous machine (art making) intelligence.  But back in the flower-power days he was painting fields of colored dots that were alive with shimmering energy.

Basically he would cover the canvas with areas of color and then place colored dots all over the surface.  It’s a project that always fascinated my students, opening their eyes to the unpredictable and errant ways of color.  You might like to try it as a step on from the weaving project; a step into painting.  No drawing skills required, no figurative representation allowed, just color for its own glorious sake.

Take a large canvas, canvasboard, or heavy sheet of card.  Using acrylic paint or tempera, cover the surface with areas of color – try to avoid suggestions of landscapes and so forth.

Now mix some fairly thick colors – keep it simple, only a few – and use a 1.5cm round bristle stencil brush to daub circles on the colored ground.  Work all over the surface leaving only a little space between your dots; follow your fancy and watch what happens.  Resist the urge to correct or adjust.  Just play with the project.

Cohen said this of his work at that time:

I wanted to arrive at a state where the color was as unequivocal, as positive, as the drawing.  The moment you’re that interested [in color] and you start your exploration it becomes increasingly obvious that until you have stripped everything else off, you’re never going to know what color is going to do or what it’s capable of.

Leaving aside the technical problems, the biggest problem for me over the past couple of years is that once you do eliminate the drawing, how the color is going to behave is totally unpredictable because you don’t really have the experience … I find with what I’m doing now you put down two colors, and what you see at the end doesn’t really have much to do with either of them …

We’ve known for a long time that if you put down one area of color next to another area, something peculiar happens at the edge, but nobody’s ever done much about it, except do it at the edge.  And I think that in a way what I’m doing is taking that edge and putting it all over the canvas, and it really does become very peculiar then …

The essential thing about the dots for me is that they go all over the surface of the canvas in a completely undifferentiated way …

I’d like to get to the state where the painting disappears and just leaves color.

– Harold Cohen, excerpts from a recorded conversation.

Quoted in Natalie d’Arbeloff,  An Artist’s Workbook: line, shape, volume, light (London: Studio Vista)

weave your own color magic


Sheri Smith weaving - Cogs, detail

Sherri Smith, Cogs (detail)

Like painters and designers, weavers know about the tricks colors can play in juxtaposition.  Some artisans and painters have made the journey into color their entire practice.  It’s a journey with no end!

If you’re curious to try creating visual magic for yourself, a simple weaving is a great place to start.  Why?  Because a weaving doesn’t have to portray anything, so we can by-pass the inner critic who likes to tell us how our work isn’t ‘right’ – ever.

Take a large sheet of strong colored cardboard. Pick a color you like, not too dark or too light.  One color only.

Placing it in the portrait position, cut strips in the card 1.5cm wide without cutting completely through at the top and bottom.  No ribbons, the sheet stays intact.  Use a craft knife.  These strips will be the warp.

Find or make strips of fine wood or heavy card for the weft.  Strips from a bamboo blind work well.

Paint the strips with white undercoat and allow to dry.  Then apply colored paint (acrylic) randomly along each stick.  Don’t use too many colors at first.

Weave the weft strips in and out of the cut-out card strips – one over, one under, or in whatever pattern you like.

Notice the way the colors dance when juxtaposed.  Think about how you could choreograph that dance by placing the colors on the weft sticks in strategic places.  Try deliberately causing odd perceptual effects in the tone and hue of the card color – similar to what we’ve seen in the last two postings.

Have a close look at the Sherri Smith’s hand-dyed and plaited fiber works, just to supercharge the creative juices!

I’m sure you’ll be up and away with a host of ‘what-if’s and ideas to explore…

believe it or not …




… the blue and the green are one and the same color!

Try an experiment like this for yourself.
Take one color and experiment with laying others adjacent
in such a way that your one color appears to be two.

What does this amazing optical illusion tell us about
the color-composed ‘world’ we inhabit?

source –