One glance at Harold Edwards’ art won’t do it.
In order to grasp the whole image, and all of the patterns within it, you have to keep looking. Even then, what you probably won’t see is that each pattern used in his colorful, geometric pieces follows a math sequence found in nature.
His sequence, known as Fibonacci, begins with the numbers 1 and 1. The sequence is determined by the sum of the two previous numbers. So starting with 1 and 1, the third number would be 2.
It’s a simple pattern but for Edwards, Fibonacci is the foundation on which he can create. “I know I’ve got a basic framework when I start,” he said.
The numbers determine the number of colors, areas and shapes he forms. His pieces are part of the group exhibition entitled “Geometrics,” on display and for sale now through March 31 at The Art Store. Each piece was made using geometric shapes to form abstract compositions. In other words, viewers can decide for themselves what each piece represents.
The Fibonacci number sequence is unique to Edwards. The sequence is named after Italian mathematician Leonardo da Pisa.
Though most of us have never realized it, the Fibonacci sequence is found repeatedly in nature, said Edwards, using flowers as an example. With the exception of the dogwood, he said, almost always the number of petals is a number found in the sequence.
“I think about these numbers all the time,” he added.
One of his pieces, “26807”, is 13 inches tall and 34 inches long, painted on a wooden plank with a wave. As you might suspect, both 13 and 34 are part of the sequence.
Edwards used 13 colors of paint for the piece, which is divided into 13 different sections — and each one typically has a pattern.
One section contains a pattern of stars, which have five points. Other section have triangular patterns, with three points. All are numbers in the Fibonacci sequence.
“You can do a lot of things with a triangle,” he said.
Another Fibonacci connection: each section has five different colors.
“It’s just a little rule that I put on myself so it just brings it all together,” said Edwards.
The designs he generates all contain shapes with points, lines or edges that are Fibonacci sequence numbers.
And lest you think all these numbers don’t mean anything, Edwards has interpretations of life within each pattern as well. A spiral, for example, could represent something as vast as the galaxy or as miniscule as a nautilus shell. The pieces, like all art, are open to interpretation by the viewer.
The sequence is part of what distinguishes Edwards’ work from that of other abstract artists. The consistent busy use of colors and patterns is what he describes as his visual vocabulary.
His constructed piece, “Construction Number 14” has parts of enamel, wood, metal and Plexiglas. He constructed them into shapes and painted them with the same 13 colors and similar patterns used in his paintings.
“Each time I start a new series of work, I mix up 13 new colors and then I use those for that series of paintings,” he said.
Edwards is a retired language arts teacher and college professor from Yawkey who now resides in Charleston. His work has been represented by The Art Store for 29 years.
He learned about Fibonacci when he was writing his master’s thesis in 1980 and was drawn to the idea of merging math and art in a way that takes the artist out of the decisions that shape each piece. Edwards will be speaking about his works from 2-3 p.m. March 18 at The Art Store.
Reach Anna Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org, 304-348-4881 or follow @byannataylor on Twitter.