I drove up a long dirt driveway, through the woods toward the home of an artist I know. I had never been to her studio, so it was a new experience. Along the dirt road were little stone totems to either side. The rocks were placed one on top of another, biggest at the bottom and smallest at the top. They seemed randomly placed along either side of the road to greet visitors as they approach, but I know that each was carefully stacked in just the right place to appear random. That is a creative skill that I call “intuitive composition” or in places that are less obviously art, “intuitive placement.” It is quite intentional, simply processed using our senses.
I do think it is a skill that comes with the territory of being a right brained person, but with practice it can be learned and improved. Beyond the stone monoliths, I came to a clearing with a pond to my right and the artist’s home and studio ahead. The adventure was just beginning. Along the edge of the pond were a dozen or so wild plastic rocking horses on spring frames (vintage 1950s-60s). The horses were painted with broad diagonal strokes of bright colors and were all posed as if galloping across the yard. Again, how can you calculate galloping horses to look randomly in action? Intuitive composition.
I could go on about my visual feast during this visit, about the house looking like it belonged in a fairy tale. The garden fence had Laurel branches woven around the top and antique iron bed frames placed at intervals against it. That was a tactic to confuse the deer, so they won’t try to hurdle the fence to get at the garden. Everywhere I looked on this artist’s clearing were odd little shrines of old toys and antique signs or machinery. All in just the right spot to be noticed, but at the same time blend in as a natural part of the yard, woods and two ponds that surround the house. Since then I’ve been looking at how I embellish my environment and where my wild rocking horses are stampeding.
How often do you explore your yard ? What natural forms can you create that establish a sense of awe or to meditate among? What objects can make bird baths other those commercially produced as such? Does you garden have fairy houses? Is there a sign that provokes a chuckle or a path that guides you through a labyrinth? Even in the stark winter, there are objects that can be intuitively placed to create a sense of intrigue or excitement or meditation. Study your space. Study your object of interest. Move about the space and place the objects in random spots and step back. Rather than thinking about it’s effect, feel it. It will tell you where it wants to be. No kidding . You’ll hear it in your head. If you can find some wild rocking horses, they will more likely whinny.