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Our third word is INTEGRATE, which follows observe and ponder.


“Everything on the page should talk to each other.”

This wise advice came from my instructor many years ago. “Everything” speaks of integrating in design.

Since then, other instructors have pointed to Mother Nature as a model resource. Let’s look at how she integrates earthly elements, beginning with color.

5 ways that nature integrates

Analogous colors, neighbors on the color wheel, are my comfort zone. The forest photo below (showing a view of a mountainside in Utah) is primarily warm greens in yellow, lime, and kelly.


There’s also a tree in the lower right corner in a different green family, but with a related shape. In this way, nature integrates both colors and shapes to create harmony.

Color can also be complementary, those across the color wheel. This colorful carpet of fall leaves was on a hiking path at Angel Island, Bay Area, California.


And you almost can’t believe this next tree is real until you’ve seen it!


It’s a Rainbow Eucalyptus tree, located in Oahu, Hawaii, but it’s also found in other tropical areas.

Besides integration of colors and shapes, nature integrates lines.


A rose from my garden has synchronized lines, like some camellias or dahlias.

And one final way nature integrates is with texture, often found in rocks, clouds, seashores and mountains. Texture offers great dimension for art. Notice the depth in this monochromatic image, taken at a national park in Utah.


Amazing, isn’t it?

Here are 3 ways that artists integrate:


These are shed antlers, gathered by Boy Scouts and formed into an arch. It’s one of 4 arches at the corners of Town Square, in Jackson, Wyoming.

Mosaics are always intriguing to me too, because they create harmony by integrating color, shape, line and texture in designs.


This is a Roman mosaic floor in the Hall of Animals at The Vatican Museum in Rome.

And, of course, there’s Chihuly—whose glass sculptures are marvelously integrated and recognized around the world.


This is Le soleil (the sun) at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in Montreal, Canada

Students often ask how artists can learn more about integrating. One great way is by studying graphic design—whether you create on paper, canvas or something else.

I’ll be teaching these concepts in October classes at Sierra Community Education in Roseville (Northern California). For more information, please visit my Facebook page

*Note: this post may contain affiliate links*

So you want to become a more skilled artist? First things first, you need to be drawing regularly—pretty much every day! However, just like any New Year’s Resolution, most of our daily drawing resolutions fall short too. After years of drawing myself, I’ve established a regular drawing routine, which means you can too. Here are my quick tips to boost your motivation to draw and be. . . read more

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