How Many Artists Have You Been?

I am reading a book that I took out from our local library, titled The Nature of Design. It’s an excellent book, which, as the summary states, ” . . . works the same way a designer’s brain does–visually.”

book jacket This innovative guide sets itself apart from all those text-heavy, introductory titles on the market by showing creatives how to find inspiration in their everyday surroundings. Readers will learn all the rules of design with a look at how everything from graphics and architecture to fashion and product design shape the world. These are the fundamentals that help designers develop an eye for composing groundbreaking projects.

On page 145, a very unique house caught my attention. I looked up the credits at the back of the book and found architect Terry Brown. However, a Google search revealed that he died in a car accident in 2008.

The article where I gleaned this sad news described Terry as the Mushroom House Architect, which arose from the design of his own home and studio.

(See more images of this house at Architectural Record.)

That same article described his unique approach to building this way:

He started using a variety of materials—wood, colored glass, shell, ceramics, and various metals—and crafting them into irregular shapes reminiscent of those in nature. His structures provide a variety of unusual, sensuous experiences in color, shape, sound, volume, enclosure, and texture.

That sound like a mixed media approach to me.

In The Dry Facts, a blog post included a quote by one of Brown’s students (Leslie Clark):

Terry believed it was an architect’s responsibility to invent solutions for clients that they didn’t know were possible, to transform their ideas of what a house could be.

That is a creative philosophy we can all strive to follow, no matter what kind of artist we are .  .  .   but not just for the sake of “clients.”  We owe it to ourselves to uncover the assumptions we make about what kind of artists we are, thus limiting our own transformation. It’s so much more exciting to surprise ourselves, entering realms of work that we had not yet realized were possible.

My husband once told a mutual friend that he had been married to quite a number of women through the years, and they were all Carol (me). That statement made me very happy: his tone of voice and body language indicated that this was exciting for him. I will add the word challenging, although he was wise enough not to use it.

How many different artists have you been?

The nature of design : how the principles of design shape our worldfrom graphics and architecture to interiors and products / Peg Faimon & John Weigand.

Available, with a peek inside, at both and


About CarolWiebe

Art entices, inspires, and delights me. Art is a vehicle for laughter, tears, wonder, enlightenment--taking me on a constant path of discovery. You can't say that about housework (except, perhaps, for the crying part).
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5 Responses to How Many Artists Have You Been?

  1. iHanna says:

    What a great post and such interesting quotes. Thanks for sharing. I think I am still peapling away my first layer as an artist, maybe the second one…

  2. Jacqueline says:

    That is so inspiring. Thank you so much for sharing.
    P.S. Like you I have been many, many women.
    Feels good to know that I’m not alone in my “weirdness”.

  3. Carol Wiebe says:

    Thanks for unveiling your own “past lives,” Hanna & Jacqueline!

  4. Good question, and better is the response. I was fortunate not to have been over-trained in any one discipline that when someone asks what I do, I always answer that I’m an artist and a teacher. When I’m then asked what kind of artist/teacher I always answer, everything–except pottery, I haven’t worked a wheel yet. And when I’m occasionally pushed for a, well how many kinds of artist are you? I’ve found that as I grow older my answer has moved from a list of genre; photographer, painter, handmade book-maker, to what the real answer is. How many artists have I been? I don’t know yet, the day’s not over.
    This to me is the joy and the function of being an artist. We are ready to expand our work by whatever materials are within reach, and the visions that move through our brains–without limit, without definition.
    And thanks for the intro to Terry Brown. What a wonderful example of an artist’s life.

  5. Pingback: Silver Spring Studio – How Many Artists Have You Been? | Bourgeon

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