Data + Design Project

Decorating Nature: An Alternate, Painterly World

Friday 02.15.2013 , Posted by
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fig. 56- not normally associated with seasonal transformations, some stream-side stones actually will begin to pixellate in late autumn:early winter

People often talk about nature ‘decorating’ itself as the seasons change: leaves change colors in the fall, the world turns white in the winter, and things green back up in the spring. But what if nature actually did decorate itself in an artistic fashion? Artist Norm Magnusson has been experimenting with that idea, painting objects he finds in the natural world and through that creating something highly imaginative and fantastic. What inspires him to do this?

“We use nature how we see fit: we strive to bring order to it, we seek to explain it in a language that doesn’t belong to it, we try to make it prettier, we try to make it better, we try to make it more profitable. Some efforts succeed, some don’t.”

“This series, “Decorating nature” is about all that and is also all about beauty.”

Magnusson creates charming textbook inspired captions to explain the natural world he creates. His leaves don’t just “go plaid,” they “self-sensor” or display flashes of blue “symbolizing a long winter.” It’s a world almost as fun as Dr. Seuss, but even better for one reason: it’s our world.

“Beauty is the best friend of consideration,” says Magnusson. “If a photo is pretty, the viewer will spend more time with it. If a viewer spends more time with it, they will begin to think beyond the surface of it and into the meaning of it. That’s the dynamic I hope to create in viewers of my work.”

Above – fig. 56: not normally associated with seasonal transformations, some stream-side stones actually will begin to pixellate in late autumn/early winter.
Below – fig. 20: local children must climb high into the plaid tree to harvest its young leaves traditionally worn at vernal equinox celebrations.
fig. 20- local children must climb high into the plaid tree to harvest its young leaves, traditionally worn at vernal equinox celebrations

fig. 33: the rare chameleobirch leaf can be harder to find than a 4-leaf clover.
fig. 33- the rare chameleobirch leaf can be harder to find than a 4-leaf clover

fig. 38: in autumn, some leaves will use color bars to help get everything perfect.
fig. 38- in autumn, some leaves will use color bars to help get everything perfect

fig. 44: some leaves zig where others zag.
fig. 44- some leaves zig where others zag

fig. 48: decomposition usually follows a predictable pattern, as seen in this river pine.
fig. 48- decomposition usually follows a predictable pattern, as seen in this river pine

fig. 54: some evergreens are not.
fig. 54- some evergreens are not

fig. 68: some stones “blue up” when the water gets cold.
fig. 68- some stones blue up

fig. 73: a maple key with cartoonitus.
fig. 73- a maple key with cartoonitus

fig. 87: leaf of the bullseye maple
fig. 87- leaf of the bullseye maple

fig. 95: some oak leaves self-censor.
fig. 95- some oak leaves self-censor

fig. 96: dead limbs never blink.
fig. 96- dead limbs never blink

fig. 97: a leaf begins the process of blending into its background.
fig. 97- a leaf begins the process of blending into its background

fig. 72: white-dot fungi fill every surface of a tree stump.
ig. 72- white-dot fungi fill every surface of a tree stump

Via likeafieldmouse

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Benjamin Starr

Written by Benjamin Starr



Known in some circles as the most amazing man in the universe, he once saved an entire family of muskrats from a sinking, fire engulfed steamboat while recovering from two broken arms relating to a botched no-chute wingsuit landing in North Korea. When not impressing people with his humbling humility, he can be found freelance writing, finding shiny objects on the internet, enjoying the company of much-appreciated friends and living out his nomadic nature. He is Managing Editor of Visual News. Follow his movements on Twitter:

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