Fibonacci spiral

Fibonacci spiral

The pleasing proportions of a Fibonacci spiral are called “divine proportions.”  Sometimes called the “golden spiral,” this sequential form represents harmony.  Because it is found in nature, some might see the hand of God in the organizing principle represented here.

The spiral in my moon snail shell does not conform to the proportions of a Fibonacci spiral.  “In truth  . . . many mollusk shells exhibit logarithmic spiral growth, but at an angle distinctly different from that of the golden spiral.  This pattern allows the organism to grow without changing shape.”  (Wikipedia)

This means that my moon snail shell grew incrementally as one continuous tube.  And this also means that the baby shell remains as part of the adult shell.  “[T]he presently existing structure is  . . . partly old and partly new.  It has been conformed by successive and continuous increments; and each successive stage of growth, starting from the origin, remains as an integral and unchanging portion of the growing structure.”
— D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson, On Growth and Form:  The Complete Revised Edition

How interesting that the physical structure of the moon snail in many ways exemplifies our inner growth and maturity.  Our outlook as adults has built on and evolved from the experiences of our younger selves, which we internalize and carry with us as we continue to grow.

Moon Snail Shell # 37, watercolor painting of Fibonacci spiral

Moon Snail Shell # 38, watercolor painting of Fibonacci spiral

Moon snail shell # 38, watercolor sketch

Moon Snail Shell # 39, watercolor sketch

Spiraling whorls of my moon snail shell

Spiraling whorls of my moon snail shell

“Studying and understanding the ‘Way of Anything’ leads one to understand the ‘Way of Everything.’”
— Barry Behrstock, The Way of the Artist:  Reflections on Creativity and the Life, Home, Art and Collections of Richard Marquis

I like that my moon snail shell connects me to the larger world in ways that I don’t fully understand.  I find the task of looking closely at it and then drawing or painting it very like meditation.  I lose myself for a time.

The Three Goals
by David Budbill, from Moment to Moment: Poems of a Mountain Recluse

The first goal is to see the thing itself
in and for itself, to see it simply and clearly
for what it is.
No symbolism, please.

The second goal is to see each individual thing
as unified, as one, with all the other
ten thousand things.
In this regard, a little wine helps a lot.

The third goal is to grasp the first and second goals,
to see the universal in the particular,
Regarding this one, call me when you get it.

Moon Snail Shell # 36, watercolor pencil sketch with washes

Moon Snail Shell # 36, watercolor pencil sketch with washes


“The whole story of the universe is implicit in any part of it.  The meditative eye can look through any single object and see, as through a window, the entire cosmos.”
— Aldous Huxley, Point Counterpoint

Moon snail shell spiral

Moon snail shell spiral

Hubble image of spiral galaxy Messier

Hubble image of spiral galaxy Messier

I see the Universe in my little moon snail shell.  Its tiny spiral echoes the form of spiral galaxies, including our own Milky Way.  What a marvel that such a small object holds intimations of infinity.

“Pick up a blade of grass and all the worlds come with it.”
— Zen saying


Moon Snail Shell # 35, watercolor washes over crayon drawing


Snail:  One of a group of terrestrial or aquatic molluscs belonging to the Class Gastropoda, typically having a spirally coiled shell, a broad retractile foot and a distinctive head.”
— Peter Williams, Snail

The clockwise spiral of the moon snail shell

The clockwise spiral of the moon snail shell

Here is the lesson from yesterday’s drawing exercise.  For me, the most essential part of my empty moon snail shell is its spiral.  When I removed all the inessential parts, what was left was the distinctive spiral.

There is something mysterious and deep about spirals.  They hold such tightly coiled energy at their center, yet sweep outward in ever larger curves.  Open, yet closed.  Inward, yet outward looking.

“One of the most ancient symbols is the spiral.  It comes clockwise, counterclockwise, singly, in pairs, in clusters. No one knows exactly what it represents, perhaps those inexplicable natural forces:  the swirl of smoke, the vortex of water, a mysterious pull of energy.”
— Alan Fletcher, The Art of Looking Sideways

The orderliness of spiral patterns has always appealed to me when I see them in nature and in art.

Spiraling leaves of a succulent plant

Spiraling leaves of a succulent plant

Spiraling whorls of a sheep's horn

Spiraling whorls of a sheep’s horn

Spiral staircase,

Spiral staircase, St. Peter’s Church, Manhattan

Glory Window, Chapel of Thanksgiving, Dallas, TX

Glory Window, Chapel of Thanksgiving, Dallas, TX

It’s no wonder that I am drawn to the spiral shape in my moon snail shell.

Moon snail shells # 32, 33 and 34, simple ink sketch with Pigma Callipen and watercolor washes

Moon snail shells # 32, 33 and 34, simple ink sketch with Pigma Callipen and watercolor washes


I’m back from Texas and will be sharing some of my trip photos and impressions over the next few days.  We travelled 1,566 miles in our rented car, so we saw quite a bit of Texas.  If I had to describe Texas in two words, they would be flat and windy!  We enjoyed the Texas weather, which was in the 70s and 80s.

Here are some photos from our Texas rambles:

Landscape near Chappell Hill area, east of Houston


Vintage Dr. Pepper sign on building in Chappell Hill. Dr. Pepper was invented by a pharmacist in Waco, Texas.

Weathered sign along a Texas back road. The Wild West is still alive!

The Edythe Bates Old Chapel at the International Festival Institute near Round Top, Texas. It is used as one performance space at this music academy.

Concert Hall at the International Festival Institute. Mighty fancy digs in the middle of Texas!

Inside the Stuermer Store in Ledbetter, Texas. The store has been in business since 1891. We stopped in for malts from its soda fountain (formerly a saloon bar).

Cash register at the Stuermer Store, which is part museum, part local store.

The proprietress of the Stuermer Store is the grand-daughter of the original owner. She rang up all sales.

A maze of bridges near Dallas, Texas.

More bridges in Ft. Worth. Heaven help you if you didn't know where you were going!

Exterior, Chapel of Thanksgiving in Dallas

Magnificent "Glory Window" in the Chapel of Thanksgiving

Reflections on a Dallas skyscraper look like distortions in a fun house mirror.

Pioneer Plaza Cattle Drive sculpture in Dallas: 70 larger-than-life bronze cattle and 3 cowboys

Silhouette of windmill

The flat fields near Corpus Christi were so huge that it took three tractors in tandem for planting.

The ubiquitous Texas state flag. We saw them flying all over on our trip.