Textures with Kalyani- EP2

Textures in Nature:
For many artists including myself, nature with its abundant range of textures has always been a source of inspiration. Actively observing nature allows us to create compositions that are not only aesthetic but bring out the best qualities in our subjects. Not only that they affect us consciously or subconsciously in our daily lives. 
When taking a walk outside, one can see that most natural objects are not flat. They have bumps, edges, spikes, different patterns, softness, hardness and many more textural qualities. Writing about ‘texture in nature’ reminds me of a lovely poem called ‘Spring’ by David Feng:
“Beautiful fresh purple flowers on a hill
Slowly moving water mill
Clumps of wet frost on the ground
Life is all around
Soft grasses pop out
Flowers sprout
Chirping birds in the woods
Weather is good
Melting mountain has begun
Frosty snow quickly runs
Bright, shiny sky is clear
Sweet, fresh, crispy smell fills the air”
The adjectives used to describe different elements of nature add visual imagery to them, essentially allowing us to imagine the textures of these objects. Like colour, texture is ubiquitous and plays a significant role in our lives. It contains important visual information about objects and allows us to make distinctions between animals, plants, foods, fabrics etc., also making it crucial in the sensory inputs that we receive. Textures contribute to the development of a rich sensory language.
Take a simple example of a tree; the bark is hard and rough to feel, the moss growing on it is soft, while the leaves with intricate patterns are sometimes smooth, sometimes bumpy. The co-existence, as well as the contrast of all these textures, creates the visual and physical presence of the tree.  
texture of wood bark
Another example of the contrast and co-existence of textures in nature is bird nests. Birds are fascinating creatures and one can observe a great deal from their behaviours, especially when they build their homes. Bird nests are built with very specific twigs and vines from plants that keep them sturdy and stable on the outside with interlocking mechanisms. However, the inside of the nest is lined with a softer material like feathers and leaves to keep the nest warm. 
sturdy exterior of bird nest
Nest lined inside with feathers to keep warm
Have you ever sat on an elephant? The hairs on an elephant often look soft but when sitting on them; one can feel the roughness and prickly skin. This shows that often the use of more than one of the five senses is required to comprehend textured surfaces. On the other hand, elephants are a great example of visual texture guiding us. Visually, they are massive creatures but their small eyes reveal gentleness. The eyes emanate an emotional response with whom they are interacting.
close-up of elephant hair
Textures also change with the addition or subtraction of an external element. For example, dry sand on its own is grainy and coarse but the moment an external element, water is added to it, it becomes soft. Similarly, with the increase and decrease of temperature water changes its state, affecting its texture. When snow falls from the sky, it is soft to touch but over time as it touches and collects on the ground, it freezes and becomes hard. A rise in temperature again melts the ice and it begins flowing as water, with a new texture altogether.
Dry sand that feels grainy and coarse
wet sand that feels soft
For centuries, we have observed, learned and applied our understanding of nature in our daily lives. I hope that this article facilitated you into looking deeper and longer at the various kinds of textures that nature has to offer. 
Kalyani Pramod is a Designer, Artist, Fibre artist, Design teacher, Mentor and  also a Director in Shuttles & Needles
Link to earlier episodes:
EP1: Textures- an introduction:


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