rowanberry studio full color logo

Intricacy of Science as Art

One of my favorite books and inspiration for art is by a German scientific illustrator, Ernst Haeckel, whose works are featured in Art Forms in Nature: The Prints of Ernst Haeckel. The illustrations will draw in me for hours of contemplation. This year, 2019, is the 100th anniversary of Haeckel’s death.

Ernst Haeckel, scientific illustrationKunstformen der Natur (1904), plate 28: Discomedusae

Haeckel had a professorship in 1864 at the University of Jena, and this is where he studied various weird forms of sea life, such as segmented worms, protozoa, and sponges. With such a subject, who would think there is a whole world of intricate beauty to be found?

ernst-haeckel, scientific illustrationKunstformen der Natur (1904), plate 31: Cyrtoidea

Haeckel supported Darwin’s controversial theory of evolution, and spoke in well-attended lectures to students and fellow townspeople. He may have influenced more people than Darwin himself, having sold more copies of his scientific work and getting translated into more languages.

In the 1800’s, scientists had to work with primitive equipment. Some of his colleagues accused him of distorting his images in his detailed sketches. His practice was to portray idealized “types” of organisms and thus his representations may not have been completely scientifically faithful. ernst-haeckel, scientific illustrationKunstformen der Natur (1904), plate 43: Nudibranchia

All science aside, his illustrations were works of art. Haeckel, in fact, was originally going to be a landscape painter before he turned his interests to science. His work influenced many later art forms, including lighting, jewelry, furniture, and the gateway to the Paris World Fair in 1900, designed by Rene Binet, pictured below. During his career, Haeckel produced over 1,000 engravings based on watercolors and sketches he made on his travels.

Haeckel-inspired Porte Monumentale on the Place de la Concorde, René Binet, Architect World's Fair 1900, Paris FranceHaeckel-inspired Porte Monumentale on the Place de la Concorde, René Binet, Architect World’s Fair 1900

Additional Sources:

Use these navigation links to get to inside blog pages, where you can comment.

Art and Dance

The design/business side of my life has brought a whole new world of enriching art experience to my world this past year. My business partner and I have launched an online destination for adult ballet dancers,  I am wholeheartedly loving this project for creativity I can bring to it.

ballet paper dolls

Integration of photography, vintage ballet paper doll cutouts

We are playing with all sorts of fun artistic experimentation, from photo shoots with vintage ballet items, to animated gifs, and finding fine art on Instagram.

Animated gif of book cover for “Cantique”, by Joanna Marsh
Ballet for Adults

One of my pet projects for our site is an Instagram account called @danceartgallery. I am growing to love this research as much as I love doing the research for this art blog. There is so much inspiration to be found, and it is fascinating to see portrayals of dance through history and through all cultures. Dance and Art have been hand in hand since prehistoric time.

Iluka Designs painting
“Midnight Campfire” found on Instagram, Iluka Designs

Dance and art are both visual. Watching a performance or studying a painting can take you into your imagination and beyond your self. Inspiration can be found, and both of these mediums speak to the inner heart.

Use these navigation links to get to inside blog pages, where you can comment.

The Arabesque

Arabesque image from Wikipedia

Ballet Arabesque
image from Wikipedi

I picture a dancer in arabesque, poised gracefully on the tip of one toe, her other leg straight behind her at 90 degrees, one hand back and one artistically stretched forward — the embodiment of grace in classic ballet.

“The name arabesque applied to the flowing ornament of Moorish invention is exactly suited to express those graceful lines which are their counterpart in the art of dancing.” [“A Manual of the Theory and Practice of Classical Theatrical Dancing,” 1922]

Look a little deeper into the arabesque, and you find a rich history, and the story of biomorphic art. Here, the arabesque refers to flowing, spiral patterns that represent the underlying order and unity of nature. Interwoven lines form They are a fundamental element of Islamic art, and have subsequently been found in European, and then Western design.

R.D. Shaw - ArabesquePhoto by RD Shaw, from

The intricate patterns of the islamic arabesque symbolize the infinite, the nature of creation, conveying spirituality without iconography. The photo above was taken in the Alhambra, a palace and fortress in Southern Spain.

George Glazier Gallery arabesqueDesign Art, Arabesque en Grisaille, Antique Watercolor, 19th Century

The art of the arabesque moved on to Europe, and from Renaissance until the early 19th century, it was used to decorate illuminated manuscripts, walls, furniture, metalwork and pottery. As the design was westernized, human figures were sometimes introduced into the design.

Mahmood Kaiss, The Dome, sculpture

Mahmood Kaiss, The Dome, 2017
featured at The Museum for Islamic Art: Contemporary Arabesque exhibition Jan – Apr 2018

If you are around Winter Park, Florida this summer, you can stop in at the Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Gardens. They are hosting an Arabesque Exhibit, interpreting Islamic art through the eyes of contemporary artists.

Article Credits:

Use these navigation links to get to inside blog pages, where you can comment.