Helena Tarn Art

Nature’s Mathematics

The universe is composed of an indefinite and perhaps infinite number of hexagonal galleries.

Jorge Luis Borges

Some of my recent paintings in my Laze series, although abstract, have been heavily inspired by volcanos and the destructive power and energy in nature. Following a trip to the UNESCO world heritage site the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland, I was struck by the geometric forms we find in nature, specifically the hexagon. As a result, the humble hexagon has appeared in quite a few of my recent paintings.

The hexagon is a six sided polygon. It is one of the most common structures in nature. I’m not even going to begin to try and explain the complexity or pronounce the Latin names of all the geometric equations. That would be punching well above my weight. However, at a very basic level i.e. one that I can understand, this perfect structure leaves no wasted space and is the most mechanically stable shape. Honeycombs, snowflakes, fruit skins, rocks, bubble foam, coral, insect eyes, crystals, genetic material (that’s you by the way) – the list goes on. The hexagon is present everywhere! Nature is not random arrangement or chaotic. Quite the opposite, it is symmetrical, simple, efficient and perfectly in balance. It is precision engineering at its best.

When I visited the Giant’s Causeway, I was awestruck by the spectacular and perfect basalt columns, one of the spectacular areas of ancient volcanic activity in the world. The Giant’s Causeway is a living, real life, giant geology textbook. The rock formations were caused by a thick layer of molten basaltic lava flowing along the chalk beds of the coast, cooling and hardening and forming a pattern of hexagonal cracks. Over the years these have progressively formed into columns. Definitely worth a visit if you get the chance.

During the painting of my artwork titled ‘The Giant’s Causeway‘, I came up with the idea to paint hexagons on the canvas in random areas. I loved the effect. I had started the painting with some fluid base layers and some bold brushstrokes, but adding the bold hexagons gave the painting structure and a much stronger composition. All of a sudden, it looked like an explosion, with the rock formations cooling as they hit the canvas, leaving their perfect hexagon shape.

After adding hexagons to this painting, I started to add hexagons to a couple of other artworks in the series, continuing my theme of volcanic activity seen in the natural world. The paintings ‘Haleakala‘ and ‘Mauna Loa‘ both feature bold and vibrant hexagon shapes. The soft pink, white and yellow colour palette signify the vibrant sunsets of Hawai’i, but the prominent hexagons relate to the volcanic forms found in nature. The living energy of the volcano flow distinctly juxtaposed with calmness and tranquillity.

Although my series of volcano paintings has finished, I have a suspicion that the hexagon may continue to pop up in my work from time to time. As the vast majority of my paintings are influenced by the wild energy of nature, it seems fitting that such a prominent natural shape will make an appearance every now and then. Maybe it can be my new signature style – what do you think!?!

To read about my trip to the Giant’s Causeway please see my previous blog post here. And don’t forget to have a look at the full Laze collection on my website here.

I hope you enjoyed this post. Let me know if you did below!

Until next time,

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