Lately I’ve been imagining what someone would like on their living room wall.
Large. Colorful. Beautiful. Intriguing, but not so demanding that it dominates the room. Something you find new beauty in as time goes on. Visitors point out aspects you’ve never noticed. With a story behind it, perhaps.
Then I thought about what kind of geometric art I could make that would be most appealing in this setting. Large is pretty easy, but probably square is not best. So an oblong design that has some sort of inevitability to it — that looks like it should be cut off just where it is cut off, and not at any other point. Something with a balance between repetition and variation. Something with a definite center. With different colors in different areas, so there is a distinct color composition visible from across the room. And highly connected, because this gives interest over time — you see new connections as you become more familiar with the piece.
These requirements are difficult to satisy using the techniques I know. Most of my patterns repeat, and it is hard to pick a place to cut them that seems inevitable. The circular patterns have a definite center, but if I cut them in an oblong, they usually look arbitrarily limited. So I set about designing an oblong pattern with variations on an element arrayed around the border, and a different design in the center. The element I chose to repeat and vary is eight sided because these are attractive and relatively easy to connect together. After a few tries, I came up with a pattern of 35 eight-sided figures, in eight variations.
Now I had a template, but I needed suitable source material to work with. The requirements for high connectivity and good color variation were at odds. The photos with the highest connectivity have vines, stems, or leaves with highlights and/or shadows adding another level of pattern. These tend to have only one or two bright colors. So I decided to tackle the color requirement first, then see what I could do about the connectivity. The most rich and vivid color I have is in this photo of colored pencils.
Before the photo was taken the pencils were misted with water to give some texture and variation. Here’s a close-up.
The problem with this as a pattern base is that all the lines go the same way. Nothing connects across the lines. Also, there is little variation in line width, making patterns too predictable. So first I twirled them to mix up directions and line widths.
Then, to set up some cross connections and more color variation, I reversed the colors, twirled the other way, and combined the two.
After moving the template around the source material and trying different variations, here’s the one I like best.
I call it Pencil Pattern in Eights. Clicking on this takes you to Imagekind, where you can see a somewhat larger version. Here are some enlarged details.
And here’s an extreme enlargment, showing the texture of the pattern, provided by those misted drops.
I’m happy with the way the two layers work. Wherever there’s a centralizing area, a star or rosette, there’s also a layer going in the other direction to connect to the larger pattern.
I’d love to see this printed 32X40 inches on canvas, stretched over bars and hanging in someone’s living room.