I am trained to be an architect. But the images in my head cannot be stilled. Color in all ways, expression in multiple mediums. This fact has bothered me for quite some time. But then I started looking into the artists I admire. They all work(ed) in multiple mediums. It is only our consumerist tendencies that focus on artist’s expressions in one medium at a time. But if you take the time, you can understand that the work comes all the time, in many different ways. A painting, a collage, a drawing or sculpture. A building or jewelry. The artist does not limit him or herself, we only limit ourselves and the opportunity to fully experience the art made when we focus on a specific medium. It’s all art in the end.
Sometimes we need to learn things more than once in a lifetime. Of course some “lessons” we learn over and over again. In this instance, I am re-learning autocad. And it’s kind of like re-learning how to ride a bike with different gears. Even after twenty years not much in the mechanics of the program have changed.
So watch out you youngsters, cuz I’ll be speeding by you soon. Just need to learn how to shift a few more gears! From concept to spec, I am gaining the power to tell the whole story.
Knowledge is empowerment. A great lesson from Remote Studio.
Creativity is always here. Even if we are busy with the rest of life’s needs. It creeps in the Windows, crawls between boards. It will open the door if left unlocked. The beginning of a vision for what we don’t always know. We can push the vision away , and if it keeps returning, pay attention. This one may really need to come into to being.
Why this inspiration and not another? We will never really know. But we can ask ourselves if we are up to the challenge of the translation to reality. We can take inspiration on and change the world, one bit at a time, for the better.
“We shall thus prevent our guardians being brought up among representations [music, sculpture, poetry, architecture] of what is evil, and so day by day and little by little, by grazing widely as it were in an unhealthy pasture, insensibly doing themselves a cumulative psychological damage that is very serious. We must look for artists and craftsman capable of perceiving the real nature of what is beautiful, and then our young men [and women], living as it were in a healthy climate, will benefit because all of the works of art they see and hear influence them for good, like the breezes from some healthy country, insensibly leading them from earliest childhood into close sympathy and conformity with beauty and reason…”
Not much to say after reading this, but a lot of doing needs to occur.
I fell in love with the wetlands of Louisiana in part because I read Aldo Leopold, and in part because the grasses that wave against the blue sky of the Gulf remind me of the grasslands of the Great Plains of North America, which brings me back to the legacy of Aldo Leopold. I don’t use the word LOVE as a simple term, but as a description for that deep feeling we have when someone, thing, or experience moves our soul. That sense that we have when we believe we have found meaning in our world where so little existed before.
But this takes me a bit off-course, and the course I intend to take you on is the ground breaking trajectory of Aldo Leopold. Actually we will explore, his words, thoughts, and the legacy of Aldo Leopold.
As every Remote Studio begins, so will this one in the summer of 2015, with the reading of Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac, with Essays on Conservation from Round River. Even if you don’t realize it today, in a a few weeks you will. You will understand the great debt you owe Leopold for the places we call wilderness today, for the endangered species that are protected, for the idea that poetry can be found and experienced on the land, and then written about, and shared with all of us. That the fast paced day you spent online, driving in traffic, and answering texts, can be slowed down and valued relative to the place you find yourself: with the experience of sun, wind, scent and birdsong.
And if you wonder why we would be reading a book written by an activist (although he may not have called himself such) in 1949 , you only need to read the book to learn. The obviousness of this request will appear as you understand how necessary words written sixty-six years ago are in 2015.
Aldo Leopold’s book, the whole book, will be discussed at the end of the first week of Remote Studio, a week of hiking and making, with very little time for sitting still. To give yourself the opportunity to savor his words, thoughts, and to commit to your future, I recommend that you start reading the book before Remote Studio begins. And to take notes, and to write notes to yourself and underline passages you value inthe book.Live in the book. And perhaps someday, if you pay attention you will have a place you love, too.
From this place that Leopold provides we begin our journey with Remote Studio, and the understanding of why architects so desperately need to know the world as he saw it.
This weekend was full of work . I’m not complaining. But stating a fact. Part of the work is a modest design proposal for an addition to a house.
There are always lessons in everything we do. And this little design has reminded me of a few things I have known. Confirmed things I know even in a cobwebbed corner of my mind:
1. It is necessary to know when to respond with modesty over exuberance, no matter how talented a designer you are. And perhaps the lesson I needed to be reminded of. There is a certain critical effort that must be made to design thoughtfully while at the same time working from a place of restraint . Not all creative answers should be dominate , some should be quiet and simply fit in with what came before. This is the case for the addition I am working on.
The existing structure is a dynamic , yet simple, 1970 contemporary house. It’s dynamism is in it’s sweeping roof that is a singular gesture of form. On the rural landscape it’s primarily living area is visible as a single sharp pitched shed roof reaching from the ground and extending to the sky.
To take away this dynamic and singular move from the primary living volume by way of a bedroom addition would be disrespectful to the hierarchy of architectural expression . The best response is one of support. Of course making the overall building better, but not by making an over-expressive addition. Instead by making a better whole.
2. Most architects and designers work today with the use of the computer for 2-d drawings and models . And this had been my primary method for a decade . But with this small work I thought all handwork would be best, and faster. Because I teach architecture students I am well aware of their current use of computers, 3-d modeling and laser cutters. And I recognize the benefits of these tools, and use them myself. But the work this past weekend using pencil , paper, cutting blades and chipboard also reminded me how critical it is for creators to use their hands to understand their ideas, their work. From this process a clarity arrives, like the clarity we gain through concentrated meditation. The slowing down of the process in exchange for the immediacy of current technology asks us to think and be sure and clear of our decisions. The tactility of hand to brain connects us to the world in it’s reality like feet to a hiking trail, bringing connection and surety.
The process also reminded me of all the things I am capable of with my hands, the versatility of expression, creating, and making . And the deep knowledge I have collected over thirty years with my brain connected to the actions of my hands that allow me to make the art I currently pursue .
Mind to hand. We are makers in the world . There is no better substitution.
The concrete blankets have come off. The giant hole has been back filled with gravel and dirt and leveled…and the plumber has roughed in the drains and pipes that will soon be buried in the concrete slab.
Rigid insulation has been set on top of the gravel, along with wire mesh. And tomorrow it will be my turn for some work. I will be adding the tubes on top of the wire mesh that will serve as the loops that will be buried in the concrete slab to create a radiant floor.
There will be no selfies made of this process. So if you want to see the action you can come on out and take pictures . And maybe tie a little wire. If you are a past Remote Studio student you probably had a similar experience when we formed concrete for your project!
The crew arrived after all the warm spring like days we have had. Winter has returned up the canyon. Form work for foundation walls were set and poured while I sat inside nursing the flu that invaded my body.
These foundation walls now poured and shrouded in wrap for warmth during curing makes explicit why it costs more to build in the cold climate of the north vs the warmth of the south. Warmth means more shallow frost depth , means no foundation walls, just a simple poured slab.
But we get snow flakes, and ski days, and a reason for hot chocolate.
The longer the winter the deeper the ground freezes, the deeper the hole for the foundation. It’s a simple correlation, all in an effort to keep the building from shifting and cracking during the freeze and thaw of the seasons.
The “footing” for the studio foundation was poured not long ago. Step one in a very stout foundation yet to come. Built nothing like a farmer or rancher would have built a cabin or barn a hundred years ago. Building codes make all the difference.
Yes. I know! Its cold out there. Don’t be bashful, maybe put some shoes on first and join us in making your contribution to Earthly Instructable: Winter Edition.
This is a creative challenge from Lori Ryker, founder of Artemis institute and Anna Taugher of IAMACOLLECTION.
Anna and I have teamed up to create a challenge to get you to collaborate with nature and get your creative juices flowing this winter. We hope you will join us in the first installment of Earthly Instractable: an online community challenge.
At the core of our existence is the desire to create and make. Regardless of scale we create everyday. The act of creation, which is activity combined with positive intention, can be as simple as setting the table for breakfastor baking a cake, and as complex as architecture or composing a symphony. All of these creative acts provide a connection for who and how we are in the world. They set-up, set-aside, negotiate, and connect us to the world we live in.
To take the opportunity to respond to the world from our own point of view provides the time for contemplation, interaction, and experience with the pure joy of nature.
We have been wondering what would come about if many, many, people were to take a bit of time in nature and spend it in contemplation and creation. This is our Challenge, take some time for yourself to “be” in nature, collaborate with and create something wonderful, wonderous!
Follow these simple steps for your semi-permanent creation:
Step 1: Walk some distance into a natural area, stop at a place you feel comfortable in.
Step 2: Gather material that is straight in nature.
Step 3: Place the material into a cylindrical to semi-spherical shape, finished scale is up to you.
Step 4: Intertwine, wind, and connect the material until it is stable in its final shape, adding material as needed. (don’t forget it’s winter, ice and snow can be a great material to use)
Step 5: Place yourself inside your structure, en-joy.
Have a photo made of you in your Winter Earthly Instructable and post to Instagram no later than midnight February 16 with the following hashtag #earthlyinstructable
AND THE WINNER IS !
A winner will be selected from the top three submissions based on likes and comments submitted by midnight February 16. The winner will receive the inspiring book My People’s Dreaming: An Aboriginal Elder Speaks on Life, Land, Spirit and Forgiveness, Written by Max Dulumunmun Harrison and Peter McConchie, provided by Artemis Institute.
The winner will be announced through Instagram, and also on : iamacollection.com, loriryker.com, and on Facebook as Artemis Institute.