Four Seasons of Botanic Digital Kaleidoscopic Art

Apparently I needed some extra color during the past lockdown winter. That’s the only way I can explain the explosion of colorful works of art that sprouted from my laptop during those months. I already wrote about the Icelandic impressions; also the European flag project and the Rotterdam paintifications were given a nudge in the right direction. But the greatest avalanche of new work came from the domain of Kaleidoscopia.

Colorful piece of digital botanic art, based on a photograph of purple loosestrife and goldenrods in a garden on a sunny summer day.
Summer Garden

Beautiful shapes

The kaleidoscope was invented in 1815 by the Scottish physicist Sir David Brewster. He devised a tubular instrument with pieces of colored glass on one side, a viewing opening on the other side and in between two mirrors, placed at an angle to each other, creating eye-pleasing patterns. The word kaleidoscope comes from the Greek words kalos (beautiful), eidos (shape) and skopein (to look), so it’s just an instrument for looking at beautiful shapes, nothing more, nothing less.

Detail of a geometric, botanic, kaleidoscopic piece of digital art entitled Dyson Sphere by Frans Blok
Dyson Sphere


Photoshop

I don’t use pieces of colored glass as source material, but photos of flowers, blossoms, leaves and other natural phenomena. And instead of mirrors, I enlist the help of Photoshop to copy, flip, rotate those images and overlay them with transparency. But the end goal is the same: creating beautiful shapes to look at.

I have written eight scripts, actions in Photoshop language. They transform the original photos, each according to a different formula, into semi-abstract, geometric, botanical, kaleidoscopic works of art. Into something completely new: a blend of nature and mathematics. Although it must be noted mathematics is in fact a part of nature as well.

Sometimes elements from the original photo can still be recognized in the final result; often it is mainly the colors that give character to the work. And chance generates a fascinating interaction of polygons, circles, stars and other shapes. With a multitude of associations: from Art Nouveau to Mediterranean tiling and from Indian temples to Disneyland. After all, nature and geometry have always inspired artists throughout the ages.

Botanical, geometric, kaleidoscopic digital artwork titled Urban Springtime, based on a photograph of spring flowers in a lawn near Kralingse Plas in Rotterdam on a sunny day
Urban Springtime

Swirl

In fact, not all of these works of art are kaleidoscopic as Brewster intended. Some scripts rely more on rotation than mirroring; they produce works with a swirl, as in a vortex, a tornado, or a galaxy. And I don’t think you could do that with two mirrors in a tube. But kaleidoscopic or not, these works are nevertheless very kalos, in my humble opinion.

Two variations of a piece of digital botanic art entitled The Wind's Five Quarters, of which one in fact should be called The Wind's Seven Quarters.
The Wind’s Five Quarters / The Wind’s Seven Quarters

Relief

As a finishing touch, I give the artworks a suggestion of relief. A 3d effect; after all, the name of my company is 3develop for a reason. As if I personally threw thick blobs of paint onto the canvas, after which a mysterious solidification process has resulted in spectacular textures.

Detail of a piece of digital botanic art, entitled Hocus Crocus, based on a photograph of crocusses in springtime
Hocus Crocus

Entitled

I think it’s a sign of unbelievable weakness to call a piece of art “no title”, so I often spend days thinking about a good name for my kaleidoscopic works. Sometimes the Latin name of the plant in question turns out to be perfectly adequate (Echinacea Purpurea), sometimes Google Translate points me to a good-sounding title in Spanish (Nenúfares Rosados), Indonesian (Kantong Semar) or Japanese (Iroha Momiji). Sometimes the link is more associative (Fruit Salad, Dyson Sphere). And sometimes a word joke will do the job (Hocus Crocus, Pentagonia Dreaming)

Botanical digital artwork called Pentagonia Dreaming, featuring a number of pentagons as a structuring element, based on a photograph of a blooming magnolia in spring
Pentagonia Dreaming

Seasons

This video shows my most beautiful kaleidoscopic works. It takes the viewer along through all seasons of the year: from spring to summer, autumn and winter, with a side trip to a tropical greenhouse and a flower shop and finally back to springtime.

Museum

Digital art is nice, but it would look even better in a large format in an analog museum. Maybe some day…. For now I already put some pieces on the walls of the virtual Kaleimuseum.

Artist impression of a fictional museum with large pieces of colorful, geometric botanic art on its walls

Gallery

And of course there is the online gallery below, powered by OhMyPrints. In it, all kaleidoscopies can be admired and, if desired, be ordered in any desired format and with a wide choice of materials.

OhMyPrints ship to every adress in The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, France and some adjacent European countries. If you live outside of that priviliged part of the world, don’t despair: I also have a webshop at Pixels.com, which delivers worldwide. And they also print on throw pillows, duvet covers, tote bags, coffee mugs, yoga mats, phone cases and beach towels.

Frans Blok

My work explores the border regions of photography, painting and computer visuals. With my company 3Develop I do work in commission but I use the same techniques, skills and software to make free work. I am originally an architect and I live in Rotterdam; for that reason the architecture of that city is a major (but not the only) source of inspiration. But also travel to countries like Iceland and Britain, or walks in the Netherlands, provide much material. Seeing and showing quality and beauty, that is what my work is about.

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2 Responses

  1. 15. June 2021

    […] Read more:Four Seasons of Botanic Digital Art from Kaleidoscopia […]

  2. 15. June 2021

    […] Read more:Springtime in Kaleidoscopia: Mandalas and Milky WaysFour Seasons of Botanic Digital Art from Kaleidoscopia […]

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