A good bit of my working life revolves around prints. A print is any mark made on or impressed into a surface-like these footprints imprinted in the snow. My boots aside, I draw prints. I explain them-I work off them. The drawing/print of the landscape is a two dimensional means by which I am able to explain my ideas about a sculpture with a client. Installations are done from prints that are drawn to scale. A print which is drawn exactly the same size as a property would need a piece of paper as big as that property; I doubt I need to detail the problems that would arise with this. So one foot of length on your property would be represented by 1/10th of an inch on my print. A properly scaled, flat, and miniature version of my idea is what you would get from me.
Prints are not easy to read, if you have not had practice. Prints are lines and shapes that make patterns. A pattern you might see if you were flying over your property. Who does that? Google Earth can provide you with a print that has recorded the patterns evident on your property. Look up your property-there may be something there that inspires you. The hobnail glass pictured above has a distinctive pattern, but also a volume, a sculptural shape. Each circle is in fact a tuft of glass; the location of each tuft in turn describes the curve of this pitcher. A print of the pattern of this glass would give you the plan view-the view from a bird flying over. Flat and circular, the pitcher shape in outline. The sculpture which is this pitcher is another story- entirely.
This concrete pot is made from a mold. The mold material records a three dimensional surface in every detail. I have seen the production print for this pot; I could barely follow it. It was very much like trying to read words from a language not my own. Where am I going with this? What a first rate landscape designer has to offer may be more than worth your while-or not. But for sure, you need to read their print. But that big fluid and certainly sculptural situation which is your property-no print truly describes that. Get involved with your designer. Speak your peace, and then some.
This winter I drew prints for gardens I doubt anyone will ever ask me to build. My idea is that one can get the gardens of one’s dreams, one way or another. Buck took my prints, and is building sculptures from them. Basswood 1/32nd of an inch thick was his material of choice. It bends obligingly. He constructs everything he builds with incredible precision-I knew the models would be beautiful; they are indeed. He has two models finished and ready for me. Where will I go now with them?
Steve tore apart my entire office, to clean and paint. Over the course of 25 years, I have amassed a goodly number of prints. He stuffed them into a number of fiber pots. Good, bad, or indifferent, there are lots of them. He wants me to go through them, and decide which old prints I want to keep. I have not told him yet, but I want to keep all of them. These marks on a lot of pages add up to a life. Many times I stuff mud stained prints into my back pocket, and work with what is in front of me. But those original prints-I save them. The print is but a mark recording intent-nothing more. Intent-this counts for a lot, from my side of the aisle. The skill of the drawing-don’t be fooled. Beautiful landscapes are about a lot of things-but gorgeous drawings of poor designs most certainly exist. My drawings are simple-but they involve some doing that might require years.
I think, design, and draw for a living. This is how I buy groceries, and pay my mortgage-but enough about me. Should you be designing gardens for yourself, I would encourage you to put a pencil to a page. What is in your heart-draw this. Take your mortgage survey and blow it up. Look at your spaces, your edges, how your house sits on your property. Loosen up. Make marks on the page. A print is a drawing-not a committment to build. Make lots of drawings. Sleep on everything you draw. Erase, and start over. Don’t bother to diss your drawing skills. No beautiful garden was ever about skilled drawing.
MCat loves my drawings; the paper keeps him warm-nothing more. Those sketches you might be inclined to make this third week of February-they could be a good warmup for spring. They could be the start something. Should you have prints from a landscape designer, squint, and see what questions you have. No print is precious-it is a tool that might help move a project along. A print is an opening gesture, nothing more. Make your own, or find someone whose prints will encourage you to speak. I actually love prints-they are a lifeline from me to you, and back again.