Entablature Design

Entablature DesignThis drawing is an architectural detail of a very elaborate residence called the Villa Tramontana. For the interiors and exteriors of this project I created hundreds of individual designs which were then composited into larger images. I created the unique architectural details as full size measured plans for the villa, ready to be sculpted and cast. Interior ceiling decorations were also designed to scale for the residence and therefore were ready for production.

Villa Tramontana’s floor plan is symmetrical and centralized, with a total living space of approximately 10,000 square feet. The main level consists of a grand foyer, living room, dining room and library all in an open floor plan. A central corridor leads to a kitchen and family room in one wing of the residence, and the master bedroom, bath and dressing room in are in a separate wing. The lower level consists of guest bedrooms, service and utility rooms, garages, and a convenient covered entrance.

The villa’s design and all the details are completely original, though inspired by 16th century Roman Late Renaissance architecture. The villa was never executed for the original client so the designs are available for anyone who wants a grand residence! For more images, click here, or on the picture below:

Villa Tramontana 600

The entablature design is also available as a limited edition print on my online store. Click here for more information. I also offer workshops on architectural design and proportioning. Click here for a description.

Geometry and Design

Three different workshops are offered in geometry and design. Workshops can also be customized and combined to fit the needs of a particular group.

1. The Geometry of Creation

Divine perspective 600Creativity is the manifestation of an idea in the physical world and geometry is a symbolic representation of the forces that are used in nature and by humans in order to make ideas become “real”. This workshop explores the essence of duality, symmetry and proportion in order to gain a better understanding of the fundamental nature of design. The workshop will demonstrate the most fundamental historical geometrical constructions and show how they were used to solve design problems. Participants will gain a more thorough knowledge of how to design and proportion an original work to achieve a graceful, natural and harmonious effect.

2. Creating Pattern and Design 

http://kurtwenner.com/blog/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Hallcoffer-600.jpgHumans have created intricate and enthralling patterns and designs since the dawning of culture. Aided by powerful computer graphics tools, it has never been easier to design original patterns, and there have never been as many ways to produce them. At the same time, contemporary culture has a poverty of expression in pattern and design that has never existed in history. This workshop examines the geometric foundation of pattern and its relationship to creativity in the natural world and in human culture. It will demonstrate the geometry of the most fundamental forms of pattern, such as tiling, weaving, frieze patterns and wallpaper patterns.   Participants will learn contemporary, (digital), methods of designing, proportioning and propagating patterns as well as traditional methods for producing patterns as two and three-dimensional decorative works.

Entablature Design3. Proportioning

Proportion in art and architecture has been a topic of artistic discussions for millennia. The use of proportion in classical Greece has been held as the supreme example of beauty, but the neither the Renaissance nor later neoclassical periods were able to unlock the mystery of its method. The reason for this was the introduction in the 12th century of the Arabic system of numeration and calculation using the concept of zero. From that time on, Western Europe began to think and calculate in “rational” numbers that could be expressed by integers. The system of proportion in ancient Greece and Rome was based on irrational numbers that could be expressed easily enough in drawings and diagrams, but never in numbers. This workshop uncovers and explains the methodology of classical proportion. Participants will learn different approaches to proportioning any design from an architectural façade to a vase to an electronic keyboard using the classical technique.

The Nature of Creativity

Folded Spiral 600Introduction

The world is calling out for more creativity in education, business and society. With so much depending on this fundamental aspect of human intelligence, it’s imperative to understand that our current definition of creativity is so flawed that we are not able to grasp it’s meaning, and are therefore hindered to make effective changes.

Our lack of clarity regarding creativity is caused by historical shifts in the understanding and defining of basic reality. Classical Greek philosophy envisioned the natural world as the physical expression of a greater ideal reality. In order to align their artistic, scientific, and philosophical ideas with the natural world, they sought to understand the formal structure that lay beneath material appearances. The Age of Reason took us on a path of separating observations of the physical world from any abstract notion of form or idea. In our own century, scientists have rediscovered that reality is actually made of pattern and form rather than substance and presents us with relative rather than absolute truths. Given this history, it’s no wonder we are confused as to the meaning of creativity and its role in nature.

Kurt Wenner proposes a profound and all-encompassing insight about the source of creativity and its great power to transform the world and our relationship to it. He will explain how a clear and incisive understanding of the creative process is essential in order to understand our historical misconceptions so that we can construct a new paradigm. Because creativity is what enables ideas to become manifest in the physical world, it is an essential component both of nature and of human experience. Only through understanding the essential structure of creativity can we make meaningful and effective changes in contemporary thought.

Kurt Wenner has spent a lifetime working within the arts and education. His artwork has been seen in more than 30 countries and he travels the globe for exhibits and talks. Wenner received the Kennedy Center Medallion for his work in arts education.


Part 1- Creativity in Nature

Artist Kurt Wenner, will talk about the meaning of creativity, not as an anomalous function of the human brain, but as an all-encompassing feature of the universe. In the same way that we can describe physical entities in terms of finite mathematical relationships between time, space, and energy, we can also describe them in terms of pattern. Predictability, which is the foundation of science, is pattern, and pattern is intelligence. Because any pattern of energy embodies universal creative principles it also has innate creative potential. Patterns of energy accumulate, transform and influence each other.

If we set aside the phrase laws of nature and Euclid’s postulates, then everything in the universe has meaning. The laws of nature should in fact be called the creative principles of nature and geometry should be understood as a diagrammatic expression of energetic relationships. Geometry is what allows us to see nature think.

Creativity is the manifestation of an idea in the physical world and the creative process of the universe is as predictable and rational as any natural law. When atomic elements form molecules or life alters its environment to create a balance, or when life becomes self-aware and creates its own reality, it is all part of the vast creative potential of the universe.

By understanding the creative principles within nature we can align our own works with the formal structure and patterns that are at play in the universe. This releases us from struggling with random and ill-informed designs, products, and structures that strive for novelty, but fight against the greater energetic flow that is all around us.

Part 2- The Structure of Creativity

A leading speaker in the field of arts education, Kurt Wenner, understands creativity like no other. He knows that when creativity is discussed it is treated as an ethereal, intuitive quality, which is impossible to understand. In reality, there are two aspects of creativity, the creative idea and the creative process. The creative idea is not a part of the physical world and therefore defies verbal definition. The creative process, however, is very clear and straightforward. The properties of duality, relationship, proportion and symmetry form the basis for all natural and human creative activity. The musical scale, the proportions of architecture, the attributes of color and sound, along with the structure of seashells and crystals are all defined by the same formal qualities.

It is the formal and organizational qualities in an entity that contain the essence of further creative development. Crystals can grow, organisms can reproduce and humans can think because patterns of energy are ectropic. This means that when energy is patterned, it attains the potential to accumulate and pattern “loose” energy. A pattern of energy can absorb more loose energy than it consumes, which enables growth or transformation. Ultimately it is the recognition of our kinship with other patterns of energy in the natural world that inspires empathy, aesthetics, and even love.

The 21st century has given us amazing new tools with which we can create radically innovative works of art, music, entertainment and architecture. By understanding the structure of creativity itself, we can make better use of computer graphics, digital technology, 3D modeling and printing, as well as a host of other new technologies that are underused because of our limited conceptual abilities.


Part 3- Human Creativity

In this talk, Kurt Wenner will compare the qualities of human creativity to those of the natural world. Human creativity is tied to creativity in the natural world by the formal qualities of duality, relationship, proportion and symmetry. But human creativity also has a distinctive quality not seen in the natural world. This uniqueness is due to the metaphorical nature of human thought. We see the world in terms of symbols and we organize great hierarchies of symbols to develop languages.

Language encompasses not only oral and written conventions, but includes music, drawing, dance, mathematics, and scientific notation. Because symbols have a metaphorical relationship to what they describe, all human thought expressed in any form of language is metaphorical. The symbol cannot be the object described, but only have a conceptual link to it. We can therefore observe reality in a pure state as in meditation, but the moment we describe our experience we are working with symbols and therefore creating a metaphor.

Often a linguistic representation is the most important part of the human creative process. A musical score is not a symphony, a blueprint is not a house, and a written play is not a performance, but all of them are creations. They already belong to the physical world because ideas have been expressed in terms of language. Symbols have an immense power for us, which causes us to forget their origin and thereby confuse our representations with reality.

When we forget the metaphorical nature of our creations, our discoveries become rules and conventions; fixed and static decrees of society that prevent further exploration. When this happens, creativity must reassert itself, awakening the direct connection between humanity, nature, and reality. Creativity can then strip away convention and allow us to regain our roles as protagonists in the drama of existence.


Painting and Color Theory

Four different workshops are offered in painting and color theory. Workshops can also be customized and combined to fit the needs of a particular group.

 1. Oil Painting and Trompe-l’oeil

St. Gerome 600Oil paint has traditionally been a favorite medium for rendering fine detail, luminous and illusionistic surfaces. Before the impressionist period artists used a technique of layering color, called glazing, to give a heightened sense of form and depth to their subjects. Painters started with a tonal image done in a limited number of earth colors to establish a strong sense of chiaroscuro– the movement from light to shadow. This under-painting technique was central to the final illusion. Once the first layer dried, more intense and varied colors were added in translucent layers. These were called glazes, because the first paint layers showed through them, (like glass). This workshop will present techniques for mixing under-painting palettes, creating under-paintings, mixing glazing palettes, and applying glazes to the under-painting. By learning to paint in layers, participants will gain greater control over a wider variety of color combinations and effects than are available in “alla prima” or “plein air” techniques. Participants will also learn some standard faux-finishing techniques as well as how to use them in illusionistic compositions.

2. Large-scale Murals and Paintings

Fall 600Artists can get commissions for a large works at any time in their career, but will they be ready for it? A large work of art is not just a small work enlarged; its design will require a different relationship to the viewers, a different color palette, and likely call for a different use of perspective. Projects for large works are usually planned in advance and may include presentation drawings for the client. Once a work is in production, it  usually requires materials, planning and techniques that are different from smaller works. Often it is impossible to “stand back” from a work and judge its effect during production due to scaffolding, or because the work must be executed in a different environment from where it will be displayed. Participants in this workshop will learn how a large work is designed and presented to the client as well as how the painting materials and color palette can be organized to facilitate its production.

3. Color Theory- Color Mixing

Colors 600During the Renaissance and the Baroque periods, color theory did not exist as we know it today. Artists knew how to mix the colors they desired, but had no unifying “theory” of hue, value and saturation similar to what we use today. In the twentieth century, Johannes Itten and Josef Albers developed the color theory we currently use. This theory organized colors well, but because the authors were abstract painters their theory was not concerned with the use of color to describe form and space. They were primarily concerned with flat “fields” of color and their influence on each other. The resulting lack of organization has resulted in the fact that current computer graphic color configurations are unable to correctly model skin tones, for example. This workshop explains the essentially proportional nature of color mixing, both as a digital model and using artists’ pigments. Participants will learn how to construct a full palette of balanced colors that can better describe form and space. They will also better understand how to work with digital color configurations.

4. From Nature to the Studio

center600Before the diffusion of photography, artists seldom attempted to make finished paintings directly from nature. Instead, they created numerous sketches, tonal drawings, watercolors and sometimes fairly loose oil sketches. They would return to the studio with these and begin to compose a large-scale finished painting from their visual “notes” and their memories of the days or weeks they spent “on site”. The final finished and highly crafted work of art was not meant to “capture a moment” but tell a larger story of their extended experience with the landscape. Ironically, the diffusion of photography seemed to prompt artists to actually try and “capture the moment”. Thus landscape painting moved from an activity that had little in common with photography, (although the finished works were intensely realistic in their effect); to a process of painting that was more like photography in its attempt to capture temporal reality, although the technique was more “painterly”. This workshop will propose a return to the earlier artistic process. Participants will create a number of studies directly from nature, then compose them into a studio work that tells the story of their experience rather than attempting to capture a “snapshot” version of that experience.