May 6, 2021

The Shapes of Things


Sometimes it happens that an ordinary object lying about the house will nudge me to open my eyes and notice things I hadn't seen before. "Seen" is the wrong word: I saw them, but they failed to impress on my conscious mind as something especially beautiful. As Henry Miller put it: 

The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.

This old lap table was leaning against a wall, waiting to be put away, when I saw that lovely curve against the straight line of the outer wall, and the simple elegance of the rounded legs; and the circle, on a piece of wood that looks like it dropped from its original position, giving a sense of time passed. 

I then photographed some legs on old pieces of furniture, as on this dresser. The front legs are complex and inventive in form, curving in and out, in gentle and sharp lines. You can see a glimpse of the rear leg, which is much simpler in design. 

The repetitive pattern of the legs of my bedside table remind me of nothing more than of Brancusi's Endless Column, in miniature: 

An old fan with rubber blades has grace and elegance in its design.

Lest you think that it's only old objects that attract my interest, here are two functional forms attached to the outside of my house that I find quite beautiful in their shapes and lines:

This metal box has an appearance of a torso, with heavy rounded legs.

A fluid line of copper tubing enhances a circular form whose copper screws echo the color of the curved pipe. 

And of course, there are the contemporary machines that provide subject matter for my paintings, drawings, and relief sculpture. In agricultural equipment I find a wealth of unusual shapes, with surprising relationships of color, line, volume, and light. When I go out to look for motifs, it is like a treasure hunt, full of unforseen results. I would like to share John Cage's quote about the woods, because it resonates for me in my trips to farms:
One shouldn't go to the woods looking for something, but rather to see what is there.


  1. Wonderful post... But I am curious as to what the initial photo is of...

    1. I mentioned under the photo that it's an old lap table. Or it might be called a lap tray or desk.

  2. Great Post Altoon. Food for thought and a feast for the eyes - or should I say - a lovely tasting plate for the eyes.

  3. Hello, Altoon. I, for one, am delighted you've taken up sharing your thoughts on your blog again. Your way of viewing things and your work are so resonant, sensitive and uplifting. Thank you!

    1. Thanks so much, Sky. I'll likely be posting rather infrequently, since I need to be inspired to say something that it meaningful to me.

  4. So nice...the photos are so obviously your work - shape, shadow, cropping. May you be inspired again soon.