Most design ideas are developed from natural forms and colors, from which a working pattern is derived. After I've produced an image that I'm happy with, I break it up into shapes defined by lines. Then I must "color" the pattern by filling each defined shape with a piece of glass. I have a design framework and "suggested colors" from the original image, but there are still lots of design decisions to be made as the window is actually being built. Usually there are some pieces within the panel for which I actually design the glass...rather than using glass from off the rack, I may combine layers of glass, sprinkle on crushed or powdered glass, apply vitreous paints and then melt these all together in a kiln to create a totally unique piece of glass, custom made to work with the panel I am building. Sometimes I go even further and make ceramic molds crafted to add a specific contour and texture some of the panel pieces, heating the glass in a kiln until it melts over the mold. Usually these custom molds are used only once; a lot of effort to get the look I'm after, but that's what sets my work apart.
Aesthetics is the principle concern guiding the design process, but the technical constraints of working with glass must be regarded and have an influence on design decisions. Sometimes, the preference to work with particular glasses influences design, as does the desire to include (or exclude) what might be seen through the glass as a visual element. The authenticity or accuracy of natural forms depicted is not as much an issue as is evoking a sense of nature that is involving. I may sometimes lean toward the fanciful, but try to avoid trite or stereotypical. It is important to me that my representations of nature retain some essence of natural.
The philosophy underlying my design sense is that "nature" is God's creation, and that I benefit from my efforts to appreciate its beauty and perfection. My representation of nature in glass is not an attempt to replicate or improve upon on what I perceive in nature, by rather my way of highlighting the beauty I have recognized. Doing this work is my way of sharing with others the visual delight I find in our natural world.