Geometric Art 2005frostgrassa12643b_2 in Detail

A small version of this image has been on curtis-hill.com for some time, and recently it came up for discussion in a geometry class at West Lincoln High School in Lincolnton, NC, so I thought I’d offer some close-up views. Two versions are available at Imagekind, one with a single instance of the basic tiling unit, and one with 4 instances.

The source photo shows a mixture of weed stems collapsed together next to my driveway, taken one frosty morning. This has been a wonderful source of patterns, because it shows many different layers, it has strong directional textures, the elements display a mixture of different widths, and almost the entire body of the photo has interesting material, so there are few areas that I have to avoid in choosing where to place my cutting templates.

Each of these patterns starts with a template; in this case the 12643b template, which produces centers of 12, 6, 4, and 3 sides. I place the template over the photo in Photoshop, moving, resizing, and rotating it to find interesting material, then run my custom scripts to pluck out each piece and place it into its position in the pattern. In this photo you cain’t hardly miss. But some are better than others, and I like this one a lot.

Here’s a close-up of the center, showing layers of stars:

detail 1

If you click on it to enlarge the view, you can see frost crystals surrounding the green star. Something I like about this kind of art is how tangible it can be. Don’t they look like stars made of some sort of light wood?

I had to pan out to get this next view of one of the six pointed stars, or it would not have fit on the screen.

detail 2

This shows how the overlapping stems give a sense of depth to the design. Looking into the star is like looking down a tunnel. (Or looking up into your bathrooom’s ceiling fan, I suppose, if your bathroom is a lot more interesting than mine.) Do you see what I mean about strong directional textures? Many of the stems look like picture frames, cut at a fantastic variety of angles, all fitting together somehow.

In the following detail I enjoy the way the simple, regular square areas gradually become part of much more complex connections as you move out from their centers, and then coalesce into other areas of perfect symmetry.

detail 3

You can see it even better in this detail:

detail 4 detail 5

The red highlight picks out a stem that forms the outer edge of a 12-sided star. But looked at another way, it forms part of the squares, shown in green. And the other part of those squares, marked in blue, is a pretty neat hexagon around the six-sided stars. One thing leads to another, around and around.

In the version of the pattern where the tiling unit is repeated, this is even more pronounced, as your eye can be led out of one wheel and onto the next, or into the area between them, drawn by one connection after another. Not all of these patterns have that quality, but it is something I try for when the source material provides potential.

If you have any questions, I’d be happy to respond in the comments.

Also, you may enjoy these patterns made from the same photograph:

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