Art & Artists in Exhibition: Vancouver 1890 - 1950
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"Pattern"

By Grace W. Melvin, From "The Paint Box", VSDAA - June 1928


PATTERN! We see the sands break up into myriad forms, that tell tales and make pictures. We see the clouds dance across the sky, and the branches of the trees intertwine in panel and border. We feel the light and shade of music - the rise and fall of the human voice - the wail of the seagull and the ripple of the waves - the joys and sorrows of experience - the face of age and youth - all life is pattern.

So we sense it.

As artist we express it in line and colour - we shape our vision - we design - we execute - we feel and understand our medium, respect its limitations and restrictions, profit from its suggestions and become "doers." Doing means learning.

We become craft-workers, leaving a trail of coloured thought with our needles on linen, silk or felt - releasing a bowl, a vase, a cup from a plastic ball of clay - arresting in letters of gold on the transparency of our vellum, the visions of the poets and singers of all ages - weaving design into the warp and woof of daily life - fashioning the clothes we wear, the houses in which we live, and the streets and gardens in which we walk. On all that our eyes rest, within the limits of our man-made towns, has been designed; and this big city of the west is waiting, expectantly, ready to absorb in its development beauty - and more beauty. Therein lies the importance of the artist-designer's ability to select - to extract the motif and weave the pattern that tells his tale.

He must store his memory with the forms around him, must breathe Nature's rhythm and harmony, and find the form in the tiny pebble echoed in the bigness of the mountain.

There is no imagination without memory, and no design or vision without imagination. The designer is ever on the outlook for form and colour. This is as it should be, and this inward craving for the beautiful can always be met by turning to Nature, who is a generous mother with boundless nourishment.

The year has its seasons, each suggestive and inspiring. Spring comes, with the promise of the blossom and the throb of new life - summer, when every little twig in the garden is heavy with radiant offerings.

There is the fulfillment of autumn with its glorious riot of colour and its sad anticipation of good-byes that are to be, and even the sleep of winter is but a silent proposition for the coming again of spring.

Nature is ever keeping tryst with the artist, offering her gifts gladly, and the designer who would find himself, must first feel himself as part of Nature - must merge himself in her unity - take the sap from the tree - re-recreate - and express.

         GRACE W. MELVIN




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