Posts Tagged 'CA1-P2-P4-S3_4'

Developing ideas – continued

In the last post I struggled (at length!) with selecting interesting areas of drawings for development. Next step of the method is of course the development, and for this I used the small shell section. Below I’ll show and discuss some of the variants, but the full set are on the sketchbook page starting here.

First identifying lines and shapes using charcoal and working large (A3) and quickly.

Still thinking about lines and shapes, but moving further from the original and introducing some colour using conté crayons.

Next I moved to wet media, and started with pen and purple ink, thinking I usually enjoy that sort of work and find the results interesting. The results were not interesting. They were so not interesting that I got out the acrylic paints and totally covered them – producing a result which I liked even less. The black and white image shown here was an accident. I was processing a photo of the acrylic horror to put on the sketchbook page and accidentally hit the Colour/Threshold function. I think it looks like a woodblock print and I really like it. The lower right hand corner is pretty boring, but the rest could have possibilities.
This is hindsight and a chance variation. At the time I was annoyed with the work, annoyed with myself, and wishing my inner critic would take a hike and give me a break! The next attempt was again acrylic on A3 paper and added nothing new. I’d lost focus and control.

After a pause to regroup I tried again, this time working smaller (A4, and not the full page), starting with inktense pencils (which are becoming familiar and comfortable). It was really a return to the original image, larger and somewhat simplified, trying to identify what had caught my interest in the first place. After another false start I got to the black and red version (brushtip pen and crayon). Finally I felt I was getting somewhere.

During this whole period I’d also been spending time playing with photos of my sketchbook work. Gimp makes it easy to select areas, crop, flip and scale, plus lots of filters such as kaleidoscope, tiling, pinch & whirl etc. It doesn’t replace working with originals on paper but it seems to me a very valuable addition to the toolset.
I scanned in the A4 page, and this is a cleaned-up version of the black and red drawing.

By this time it was last Sunday evening and the work week was looming. I only had time to try a few variations, such as this tiled version which I think would look good printed on cotton and used in a summer dress or skirt.

Finally it happened. On Monday evening on the bus home I’d stopped reading and was vaguely looking out the window, when I suddenly realised I was running through variations and experiments in my mind. What if I inverted the colours and combined the positive and negative versions of the the motif? What if…?

Straight on the computer when I got home, and the ideas kept flowing. I inverted, rotated, tiled, kaleidoscoped… Then I decided to try putting some elements together, using one of the frameworks developed earlier in the course and recorded here.

The Map/Seamless function created the background. The medallions used Kaleidoscope, then resized and one of them rotated a bit. I tried using a few different sets of parameters in kaleidoscope, so that each medallion could be different, but it became too busy. I created the shape of the curved “pathway” using the Paths tool. I’ll need to practice to get a smoother result next time, but this was good enough to get the idea. I worked through lots of options to create the fill – solid in various levels of grey, graduated shading, outlines etc. The solids all took over a bit. This version is a graduation with reduced opacity so the background shows through. I wouldn’t call this fully resolved, but I can see it interpreted in nuno felt, maybe free-machine lace medallions. An alternative could be hand or machine stitching on a felt base in dark thread. It could be used for a cushion or maybe a cover for a laptop.

Feeling on a roll, I then worked on a different shell drawing, using some similar ideas. I like the result of the Seamless filter, which Tiles producing opposing light and dark diagonals. It needs some smoothing and fine-tuneing, but I can see this digitally printed on a silk and used in a light jacket. I finished the evening with a brief sketch of how that could work, feeling refreshed, invigorated, and relieved to get to one of the flowing periods after a time of grind.


Selecting from drawings, developing ideas

I’d really been looking forward to Project 4 Stage 3: Selecting from your drawings; and Stage 4: Developing design ideas. I’d read ahead in the Assignment notes and these Stages seemed really pivotal, bringing together all the skills and knowledge that we’d been building up and putting them to use together. With an introduction like that it’s clear where the story is going – I struggled. My 3-day a week job has been really hectic and 4- or 5-days a week since late last year and when I managed to make time for OCA work energy and enthusiasm were low.

During this time I read an anecdote in Itten about a sculptor, one statue convincing, the next a failure “because he had approached his work tired and without concentration, and had tried to achieve with his will power and intellect what one can achieve only through intuition and a free feeling for rhythm” (Itten, page 98). Darn. Itten later writes of the value of relaxation exercises and other preparation, but being un-relaxed and un-prepared I only saw “The painter must wait until he feels an urge to create” (page 110). Double darn. Not really an option for a middle-aged part-time student juggling way too many balls, and while the particular details of demands and commitments vary, most people I know are in the same situation. My solution to this is to keep grinding on when the going’s hard, and look forward to and appreciate the times when it flows. I’d be happy to hear others’ ideas!

Selecting from your drawings and Developing design ideas are exactly as the titles say. First look through all the sketchbook work, searching for areas with interesting and dynamic combinations – potential for further development. Then work with selected areas to develop them – which provides you with more material to select from and develop. It’s a clear, systematic, iterative approach to design work, and all the exercises up to this point give the tools and skills required to apply it. An exhilarating flow can be achieved, as imagination, intuition, feelings and objective assessment combine.

Or, at times, they don’t. When I started Stage 3 a couple of weeks ago I got out all the sketchbook and assignment work I’ve done since last August. I spread it out on the floor, put it into piles, ran L-shaped frame finders and mirrors over pages – and hated everything. I noticed the faster, more energetic things drew me, not so much careful “drawings” – but still no excitement. I created and printed a list of potential sources of contrast and harmony from Itten (proportion of various things, hue, saturation, texture etc), and tried again. Still negative. I tried warm up sketches, reducing distractions. I remembered that I have an unhelpful habit of over-thinking things and tried to simply Trust My Eyes. I found reflecting sections in mirrors gave very static results, more useful in my mind as a component than a design, which led to thinking about components and elements of an end design, versus the overall design.

This back-and-foward went on for a week or two, and finally I had a pinboard full of drawings with areas roughly framed where I thought there could be potential for further work. The board was visually very confusing – it’s propped up in a position so I can look at it as I’m moving around the house, and it was difficult to pick out the chosen areas. Since I’ve photographed pretty much everything, it was a quick fix to go into gimp and for each drawing crop out the selected section and print it out.

Here are the selected areas.

I like the broken quality of the lines (original was charcoal) and the contrast of light and dark. There is a sense of space and peace.

The top left area doesn’t work, but something about the way the shape fills the space and the area around it appeals to me. There is some contrast between curves and more angular lines, plus some contrasts in scale. I get a sense of a contained and closed area, and a more flowing section which doesn’t have a complete boundary, which I find interesting.

I selected this section trying to get a horizontal alignment of objects across the centre, with a diagonal top right to make it more lively and less static. Looking at it later, it just seems to be sliding down off the page.

I chose this image mainly for the colour combination, but I also find the quality of the marks and the contrast between areas of colour and lines interesting.
The final selection is part of a shell. I did some editing in gimp to continue the dark area around it. I find it quite an ambiguous shape, forceful.

So by this stage, last Saturday, I declared Stage 3 done. I haven’t finished the story, but this post is long enough, so To Be Continued.

Itten, J. (1975) Design and form: the basic course at the Bauhaus, revised Edition, London: Thames and Hudson


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February 2021

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