Patterns can be geometric—like a modernist Piet Mondrian painting—or organic. Organic patterns take their repeated shapes from nature, like the dots of frost on the flower heads, above. One of the earliest frosts ever hit Maryland last week, and these sedum just barely survived. I thought the frost would melt before I returned with my camera.
Many Japanese patterns are nature-based. The Pattern Sourcebook: Japanese Style 2: 250 patterns for Projects and Designs contains 250 full-color images of historic Japanese fabric patterns, many of them based on the tiny repeated dot pattern you see in the sedum, above. The dots themselved were stenciled onto dyed fabric. Some are so evocative! This one, at right, of fiddlehead ferns, dates from the mid-1860s.
The book includes a CD of 250 copyright-free images. Most designs repeat evenly, like wallpaper, which will allow you to copy and paste them as tiles in Photoshop. You can also change the original colors and combine patterns as you wish, perhaps creating your own business cards or website. A second example appears below. It's called "dandelion clocks."
-- Sue Fierston paints and teaches just outside of Washington, D.C. in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. As a painter, she works in acrylics and watercolor and is in the middle of a series called "100 Flowers." As a teaching artist, she works with teachers to bring art into their classrooms in grades 4-8. Her posts focus on her nature-themed art collaborations. For a look at her paintings or more about her teaching, check out her website at suzannefierston.com.