Sunday, July 15, 2012

Queen Anne's Lace

Queen Anne's Lace flower - "live' scan

"Her body is not so white as
anemony petals nor so smooth—nor
so remote a thing. It is a field
of the wild carrot taking
the field by force; the grass
does not raise above it."

- excerpt from William Carlos William's "Queen Anne's Lace"

Trans-D is not generally a "how-to" digital art site, but every now and then I get the urge to document my methods of madness as they present themselves. Todays foray into digital technique was inspired by a common roadside wild-flower I come across frequently in my weekly walkabouts - Queen Anne's Lace, also known as the "wild carrot". Like the starlings in my last post, Queen Anne's Lace also has the dubious distinction of being an "invasive species"... which pretty much just means it's a survivor... give it an inch and it takes a mile. That's okay by me... I'm a "plant person". Which pretty much means I have more of a rapport with plants than I do mammals. But, make no mistake - and even Science is coming round to this opinion - plants do have a kind of sentience... an alien one in many respects, but a kind of consciousness none-the-less.

That being said, for all of it's notorious robustness, Queen Anne's Lace, which got its name from a tiny red floret that sometimes appears in its center - I've yet to see one - said to represent a drop of blood from Queen Annes finger which she pricked whilst tatting lace - also has its selling points. It's seeds, for instance, are often used by women for contraceptive purposes. It is also the host food for the larvae of the Black Swallowtail butterfly. Apart from it's other medicinal properties, it is also used by Blue Jays to line their nests - apparently its foliage contains a natural insecticide. Oddly enough, in organic gardening, it's recommended to plant Queen Anne's Lace - along with chrysanthemums and marigolds, etc. - as a "companion plant" in your garden, for the opposite reason; it attracts beneficial, aphid-eating insects like ladybugs.

My sudden interest in the plant, however, has nothing to do with any of that. Basically, I've been inspired to create a new image which insinuated itself into my middle eye last week... another of my humanoids... this time an ancient (possibly) Martian woman who wears a singular veil partially obscuring her face. I'm not here to argue about the reality of Mars - for an artist, if something emerges from the creative unconscious, one just runs with it... or perishes. That simple.

So, the veil is key in this illustration, but how to create it? My mind's eye rested on the Queen Anne's Lace growing by the roadside. On impulse, I plucked one - apologizing and thanking the plant first (silently), I might add - placed it on the scanner bed, and took my best shot. Above is my scanned image of the flower. Lovely as it may be, I still didn't quite see how it'd be useful, so, I did what any artist should do - I blew it up. Musing, I snipped out a fragment and began rearranging it  (via cut & paste) - organic geometric patterns are, to a great degree, my forte. Experimenting with this arrangement, I finally cleaned up a version, tiled it and - presto - Queen Anne's Lace created with Queen Anne's Lace! It's not what I intend to use for my Martian veil, but I thought I'd share it anyway.  I also realize there's plenty of fractally, computational ways of creating patterns digitally - but, this is my preferred way!

So, here are three steps to virtual "lace-making". Click on images for larger views.

the blow-up

the pattern

the tile

And this is why I went digital! :-)


  1. Excellent! Interesting that you mentioned fractals -- the top image is VERY fractal in appearance.

    Thank you for the mini-glimpse in how you work -- and, I'd just like to say, what's reality got to do with art? Nada, zip, zilch...nothing. Art creates its own reality.

  2. Yeah, Queen Anne's Lace is a very "fractally" flower... leastways, fractals are probably the best math we have to describe living, organic forms. But, the denizens of the natural world still have a few chaotic tricks up their proverbial sleeves. Inflorescence has an explosive quality that defies description. In contrast, my manipulations were very pedestrian.

    As far as reality goes... well, it's kind of "relative" isn't it? ;-)

    Thanks, Bob.

  3. I like the manipulations. Queen Anne's Lace is one of my favourite flowers - and the ones here in Ontario generally have the red flower in the middle. But is hard to do justice to the effect the real flower has; I think you captured it, though. Nice.

    1. Thanks, T!

      BTW, I finally did find one of the flowers with the tiny red floret in the center - very lovely! :-)