Inlaid Pattern in Eights

July 15th, 2008

I keep discovering byproducts of my tools that allow new geometric effects.  For this design I started with a black and white checkered design and transformed it into a pattern of eights in black and white.  Then I went back and colored the checkered design, using dark colors for the black panels and lighter ones for the white panels, and transformed this into a pattern of eights (a composition of eight different eight sided figures).  So now I had a colored and a black and white version.  Then I used the black and white version as a mask to create an inlay effect in the colored version — the dark colors seem to be inset and the light colors stand out just a bit — enough to catch the light on their edges.

Click on each of these to see an enlargement.  Framed prints and canvas are available for purchase at Imagekind.

Geometric Design in Octagons and Stars

Geometric Design Detail 1 Geometric Design Detail 2 Geometric Design Detail 3 Geometric Design Detail 4 Geometric Design Detail 5 Geometric Design Detail 6 Geometric Design Detail 7 Geometric Design Detail 8 Geometric Design Detail 9 Geometric Design Detail 10 Geometric Design Detail 11

Somewhat like a fantastically complex wood puzzle, no?

“And the Stalks Look Back” in detail

July 3rd, 2008

I’m very excited about this pattern. It comes from a photo of frosty cornstalks lying in a muddy field near Cooperstown, NY, early in the morning.

Frosty Cornstalks in Muddy Field

The details are stunning and I think they come together in an harmonious whole. I love the way you can keep taking different paths through the work and wherever you go, each thing becomes part of something else. The title comes from several pairs of eyes that seem to peer out from time to time. Click the framed pattern for a large view.

The work is available for sale at Imagekind.
Here are some closeup details for your enjoyment. Click to enlarge.
Geometric Pattern Detail 1Geometric Pattern Detail 2Geometric Pattern Detail 3Geometric Pattern Detail 4Geometric Pattern Detail 5Geometric Pattern Detail 6Geometric Pattern Detail 7Geometric Pattern Detail 8Geometric Pattern Detail 9Geometric Pattern Detail 10Geometric Pattern Detail 11

Three Round Geometric Patterns in detail

June 29th, 2008

This weekend I’ve been developing a template for round patterns.  Overall they are 16 sided, with three eight-sided designs along each “spoke”.  For variety, alternate spokes have variations on the eight-sided designs.  For the first time I explicitly set out to design a template that would be easy to trim around the edges, so the outline could follow some natural feature of the subject.  If left untrimmed, the edge has a broad ripple.

Galaxy in the Weeds
Galaxy in the Weeds
Stone Stars
Stone Stars
Smooth, Curly, Colorful
Smooth, Curly, Colorful
Source Photo

“Galaxy in the Weeds” comes from this picture of a pile of stems with weeds growing up through them. Layered stems in sunlight provide strong geometric possibilities. This pattern makes good use of the bits of green to provide relief from gray. The first two closeups show the different figures, and the way the edge is trimmed. The rest zoom in to show detailed textures.

Weeds 3 Weeds 4 Weeds 5 Weeds 6

“Stone Stars” comes from a photograph of rock cliffs at the shore in Maine. The stone color variations are beautiful but subtle. Stronger geometric form comes from deeply shadowed fissures in the rock.

Stone 1 Stone 2 Stone 3 Stone 4

“Smooth, Curly and Colorful” comes from a photograph of colored pencils, twirled and overlaid to provide more variation.
Smooth 1 Smooth 2 Smooth 3

Pencil Pattern in Eights in Detail

June 27th, 2008

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.

Michaela Potter’s geometric art reviewed

June 22nd, 2008

Consider Michaela Potter’s work. She does business as Wanderlust Productionscreating media presentations informed by her passion for travel, but I ran across her work with Mandalas at Imagekind. It struck me that her mandalas isolated and amplified some of the phenomena that I’ve encountered making geometric art from photographs.

All the pieces I’ve seen are circular eight-sided figures, each made from a single photograph that captures qualities of a particular place. As she writes:

Wanderlust Mandalas are digital images created with photos from my world travels. Each mandala represents the emotional and spiritual essence I experienced on my various trips and invite the viewer to have their own contemplative experience of my journeys.

Michaela Potter\'s Alaska Mandala
Alaska Mandala

This Alaska mandala is blue and cold-looking. (Click on any of these for enlarged view.) Let’s look closer:

Close-up of Alaska Mandala
Alaska Mandala detail

Icy, wet, cold, jagged and filled with light. Literally a slice of Alaska. Well, literally a slice of a photograph taken in Alaska. A 22.5 degree wedge of photograph reflected and repeated in a circle. By selecting a slice, removing the additional context the photo could provide, and repeating around the center, Michaela sets your brain on seek, without providing an object to find. You have color, contrast, form, texture, the information that this came from Alaska and that M.P. considered it a worthwhile subject for your contemplation.

The first feelings that come up in me are alertness and caution. This is not my turf! Not turfy by any means. I don’t know what’s safe here, and it evokes a barren, beautiful world where I may have to rely on my own resources. Projection of my insecurities onto a bit of landscape? Of course. M.P. has her memories to refer to; the rest of us will be supplying bits of ourselves to fill out the picture.

I have not had an opportunity to contemplate the complete full-size mandala to experience its effect over time.

Michaela Potter\'s Thailand Mandala 2
Thailand Mandala 2

I am more at home in Thailand, and more familiar sensations of warmth and odors of incense greet me here, along with a sense of human order.

Close-up of Thailand Mandala 2
Thailand Mandala 2 detail

Looking closer, I’m instantly gone in a scan for faces and bodies. Nothing like eight pairs of round red eyes to get your attention. Ooh, round white eyes in the corners, and some kind of alien with gray sunglasses just below it. Rows of singing golden coneheads. Winged ruby-eyed mole creatures. It will be a while before I return from this.

Then there is a further period when I imagine finding this as an actual artifact in the world. It looks like a domed ceiling with an ornate blue skylight in the center, high above me.

OK, I’m back. No, I’m gone into the green cat eyes in the top of the round mandala and the red and blue flower brooches. OK, I’m back. There’s a lot of attractive detail here, which in itself is an observation to hold on to. Easy to get lost in form and association. I have to say the blue starry form in the center is beautiful in itself. But remembering that this form is imposed by repetition, what can we take from this slice of Thailand?

It’s about people, first, not impersonal landscape. Vivid, detailed, dramatic, brilliant. Shiny. Pointy. There’s more to experience, I’m sure, but that’s what’s coming to me. [Reactions in the comments section are very welcome.]

Michaela Potter\'s Laos Mandala
Laos Mandala

Here in Laos, we’re not offered so much distraction. The order is strong, but quieter and simpler. More organic, certainly.

Close-up of Laos Mandala
Laos Mandala detail

I can see faces here, but they’re not compelling. Or they weren’t till I wrote that. This is a bit like snorkeling [someone's going to be unhappy when they google "snorkeling laos" and find this post]. Oh, how is it like snorkeling? You know how you hear and feel your own breath very urgently at first? Contemplating these mandalas, I find I’m very reactive to my own mental effluvia at first. Perhaps this settles over time. But of course I am writing a blog post, which is almost by definition being reactive to your own mental effluvia.

As a pattern, this has beautiful quiet color; restrained, orderly, organic and somehow rustic. Nice variations on octagon and star.

As a vehicle for the essence of an experience of Laos, it seems to convey more to me about the environment than the Thailand mandala did. Perhaps because of the plant, the weathered appearance of the [wood?] and the seemingly outdoor light in the saffron cloth.

Of course I’m interested in Michaela’s work in relation to mine. One aspect of geometric art from photographs that I’ve enjoyed is that it mostly removes the actual subject from the photograph, but retains many of its qualities. This has the potential to allow you more time to attend to qualities of form, color, light, texture without the immediate demand to identify what it is and get on with life. By settling on one geometric form and explicitly setting out in quest of the essence of different geographies and cultures, M.P. highlights this quality. By calling the result a mandala she invites contemplation of the form and the extraction of essence through the interaction with your internal process. Or so I reckon.

I thank Michaela for permission to use enlarged details in this article. The images are copyright Michaela Potter. See more of her work at Imagekindand at Wanderlust Productions.

[Update]I finished this review at 2 AM, but with the nagging feeling that I had forgotten something. This is the first time I’ve talked about someone else’s work online. Oh yes, the conclusion! I’ve talked about the invitation extended by M.P.’s work, and my mental processes as I confront it. How does it deliver on it’s invitation? Quite well, I think. It was certainly a vehicle for me to take my own contemplative experience of her journeys. Each mandala set me in a different place, related to its origin. Each one connected to some part of me, and produced a contemplative experience of a different nature. How much of this is related to the source culture or geography and how much is an idiosyncratic reaction of my own, I don’t know. But that counts as success in the terms of the work: representing “the emotional and spiritual essence” of her experience, and giving you the opportunity to have your own related but unique internal journey.

Tiling Patterns for You

May 31st, 2008

Notice the new free tiling patterns link in the sidebar. Last night I finished getting together 115 repeating patterns that are free for you to use.  Several 300 GB hard drives are crammed with my tiling patterns: it was time to see what other people can do with them.  I’m not offering them at full size, which varies from 1600 to 11000 pixels on a side.  These are 300 pixels on a side, but that is perfect for a variety of uses, and I hope you’ll discover new ones!

Silhouette Pattern

May 19th, 2008

Two thirds of the searches leading people to this blog lately have involved black and white patterns. Here’s a black and white pattern!

Black and White Silhouette Pattern

Clicking on it takes you to my Imagekind gallery.

Of course I couldn’t resist playing around with it. The variation I like best is rendered in a coppery metal, with a textured white background.

Coppery Metal Sihouette Pattern

Here are some details (click to enlarge):

Metal Geometric Pattern detail 1 Metal Geometric Pattern detail 2 Metal Geometric Pattern detail 3 Metal Geometric Pattern detail 4 Metal Geometric Pattern detail 5 Metal Geometric Pattern detail 6 Metal Geometric Pattern detail 7

Polished Stone Pattern

May 11th, 2008

In this post I showed the underlying design of a pattern in two forms, a red outline of the panels

and a black and white pattern showing the reflected and non-reflected panels.

[Note: If you arrived at this page looking for black and white patterns, you may also be interested in Wearable Geometric Designs or free tiling patterns.]

Recently the black and white design has been getting some interest in itself, so I decided to explore it. I tried knocking a hole in each panel and inserting polished stone, then making the outlines out of contrasting stone. I chose to center it differently this time. A consistent lighting effect gives variety and three dimensionality. In this small size it’s hard to see

Polished Stone Pattern in Frame

but click on these details to see what would be present in a large print.

Polished Stone Detail 1 Polished Stone Detail 2 Polished Stone Detail 3

As I do more experiments along these lines, I’ll be putting them in my Mosaic gallery at Imagekind.

Stained Glass

April 29th, 2008

There are many practical things I should be doing, but I spent almost the entire weekend exploring a new kind of pattern. Usually I start from photographs, but this was created entirely within Photoshop. It is meant to look like stained glass, but I found that solid colored glass looked uninteresting, so I used tiny mosaics. You can click through this image to see an enlarged version at Imagekind:

Mosaic 12643f framed

Instead of black leading, I used a goldish metal which seemed prettier to me. Click below for enlarged details.

Detail 1 Detail 2 Detail 3 Detail 4 Detail 5 Detail 6 Detail 7 Detail 8


April 16th, 2008

We’re back from visiting Virginia and South Carolina. Haven’t done any pattern work for a while, so here are some travel photos. First Brookgreen Gardens in Murrells Inlet, SC. Many acres of blooming dogwood and azalea with beautiful sculptures.

Flute Player Sculpture Diana Sculpture Another Diana Sculpture

We visited Bull Island in South Carolina. It’s a wildlife preserve you get to by ferry. This was taken on the ride out:

Ferry Trip to Bull Island

These were taken on the island:

Palmetto Fronds Shore Birds “Boneyard” Dead trees on beach Sand, Water, Shadow Pelicans flying over beach

Finally, time exposures from the passenger seat during the long ride back.

View from side window Crossing a bridge Instrument Panel Toll Booth Side mirror in tunnel Following a truck in the tunnel Reduce Speed