I’d like to give you a close look at the pattern bankhostab1612128e_3 and the photograph from which it is made. These framed images link to the Imagekind web site where I sell my work.
It’s hard to see anything but the geometry at this small size, though, so I want to zoom in and explore some of the details you’d see in a large print.
First a word about my naming convention. I try to avoid evocative titles, like “Eros in Rebellion”. These things really are just geometric transformations of some photo that I took because it seemed to have potential as a pattern source. Maybe I see minotaurs and dancing girls in it, but you may find something else entirely, and I’d rather not assign a title that suggests what anyone should see.
Usually I give the source photo a short name to help me remember where it was taken. bankhosta reminds me that this was a picture of the hosta plant that grows outside the bank next to my office. I take pictures of it all through the year, and here it is after some cold fall nights, bleached and withered on its bed of bark mulch and dead leaves. As I take more pictures of the same subject, I append a letter. This one is b, the second bank hosta photo that I found patterns in.
Then comes the template name. Each style of pattern begins with a template, and most templates are named for their centers of symmetry. This one has centers with 16, 12, 12 and 8 sides. It’s the fifth template I’ve developed with these centers, so it’s 1612128e. And this is the third pattern I saved using this template on this source photo, hence bankhostab1612128e_3. I save about one out of three that I try, and I’ve saved over 4000 patterns, so I had to develop a systematic way to refer to them.
OK, the pattern. The first thing I notice on looking at this is that the design is repeated several times. When I do this, it’s because I find the interaction between the parts to be important for appreciating this particular pattern. As you look at it for a while, different patterns of organization will emerge and fade, or your eye may be drawn through different paths among the parts. But for now, let’s look at details, starting with the white ring around the brown circular area in the upper left:
Click on any of these details to see a larger view. This is the 16-sided area, where the light circle is formed by hosta stem, the reddish interior from bark mulch, and the inner star by leaf. Around it are “transitional” figures, needed to fit together the areas of perfect symmetry without gaps or seams.
Now let’s look up to the left a little at one of the 8-sided figures and an interesting transitional group:
I invite you to notice that using this reflection technique, colors and textures are always laid down right next to their reflection, so they seem continuous, which can give the illusion of a solid object, rather than cut up bits of photograph. Source material must be carefully chosen to sustain this illusion, though. If you recognize the object, and you know it shouldn’t be that way, it will seem wrong, and probably irritating. A rope, for example, shouldn’t make an abrupt acute angle, but dead stems can. Pieces of people or animals are almost always shocking, but metal or brick (or mulch) usually passes our low-level perception filters.
Now let’s look down to the right to find this 12-sided figure and a pair of 8-sided figures.
I like the way my mind does a quick categorization - star within star, a couple of stars with their twinkly bits colliding - then begins to see other things. The multiple layers within the white star with fine gradations like a lotus flower, the brownish patterns behind it, the red circles and black eight-pointed stars, the little triangles and blazes that are like punctuation to the pattern. Also the envelope around the two eight-sided figures. These are things that can be forgotten and rediscovered again and again.
More 12-sided figures:
One thing I’d like to point out is that by repeating “ground” in a regular way, it can become “figure”. The sharply pointed brown stars in the second detail would be background mulch in the photo. In my photos I usually strive to keep the background in focus, so it can more easily become foreground in the pattern.
Also, does anyone else see a white ring of Dutch maids in that second detail? OK, maybe aliens posing as Dutch maids?
For this final detail, I’d like to pan out a little, so we can begin to see interactions among elements, and the way the pattern changes with distance.
Probably the first thing I would notice here is the bright star in the middle. Then my eye might be drawn to the four groups of stars around it, and to the four stars that are in the corners here, but would be part of the larger pattern when viewed as a whole. But then I see the dark four pointed figure around the central star, and that leads me to notice the small white blazons hanging over the dark, which draws my attention to the dark, and I see the reddish under pattern with the light stars floating over it. That’s the kind of progression of my attention might make, and at a certain point it no longer seems that I’m directing my attention, but that different views are presenting themselves to me.