ddrees art

My art work and thoughts

Posts Tagged ‘pattern’

More about op art

Posted by ddrees on December 30, 2008

r-ms1eturning to my discussion of Optical Art, I would like to share some of the ideas of US design education in the third part of the twentieth century. At Catonsville Community College, the two of us who were the main two-dimensional design teachers for years, though very different in personality, shared in the indoctrination of our alma maters, Bob Dale from MICA and UMD and me from Pratt, PSU and indirectly, Yale through Skidmore, and so we saw eye to eye on our educational objectives. I handled the Color Design class, which was more Albers than Albers. I do not think we were too much different than most of the country in our points of view.

The CCC art faculty used to differentiate between types of op art effects in a manner that would help the students gain control of the art elements both one element at a time and elements combining with other elements. Other objectives were to develop abstract thought capacity and hand eye coordination. In those days we believed artists should have an ability to objectively assess what they put out for communication and to realize that there might be a difference between what they were recording to the material world and what portion remained in their imagination. The students were supposed to realize what was the perceiver’s share. This is not a new idea in education, think Henry Adams “One sees what one brings”, but with many ripples about what is really real. Since I somewhat believed in objectivity, this was important to me.

Let us not forget that Plato worried about the unreality of images many years ago and the discussion goes on and on from there. Oh yes, there was also the graven image item in the Ten Commandments and what that would expand to. In the sixties and seventies, the op artists were making their manifestos  and I remember Victor Vasarely declaring that after him there would be nothing more for anyone to do in the art world. I think he missed something basic about creativity. He must have missed Arabesque designs which influenced Maurits Escher and also quilt designs to mention a couple of precedents.

Maurits Escher- Butterfly

Maurits Escher- Butterfly

NYPL arabesque designs 4

NYPL arabesque designs 4

NYPL arabesque designs 3

NYPL arabesque designs 3

NYPL arabesque designs 2

NYPL arabesque designs 2

NYPL Arabesque designs

NYPL Arabesque designs

I have used quilt design motifs in a number of my works like these two below.

magnolia quilt-©1989 DDrees

magnolia quilt-©1989 DDrees

magnolia quilt-©1989 DDrees

magnolia quilt-©1989 DDrees

We are really all remix artists. Some pieced quilts

c1tcht2 pieced quilt

c1tcht2 pieced quilt

japanese-quilt-show-at-the-la-connor-quilt-museum-wa1

japanese-quilt-show-at-the-la-connor-quilt-museum-wa1

le159v1 pieced quilt

le159v1 pieced quilt

oleo-1973

oleo-1973

Some call Vasarely the father of op art, but with so many design precedents I cannot see how anyone could lay claim to that. At an AIGA speech at the Baltimore Museum I recall hearing April Greiman laying claim to the circle. I think she was at least fifty, so old enough to know better. She startled me.

The basic starts in our 2d design class were line transitions as previously discussed. Previous

Line transitions were made out of even width lines that might or might not wave or change direction. The line had to be repeated many times at intervals or negative spaces that were close in width to the lines, to create ambiguity at the edge of vision’s tolerance for seeing things as discreet lines and spaces, and optically mixing them as visual gray. The result of the ambiguity would be difficulty in keeping the image static. You could delight in how something as simple as a line system would produce flashes, depth and motion arising through perception. Many traditional artists and engravers already knew all this because they had to control the elements to tease them into illusionism.

https://ddreesart.wordpress.com/tag/op-art/

Diderot's Encyclopedia Sandal detail showing line transition

Diderot's Encyclopedia sandals engraving

Diderot's Encyclopedia sandals engraving

When I was a student in Bittleman’s class he would have us take small pieces of Albrect Durer’s mature woodcuts and copy them with brush and ink very magnified in order to study the relationship of the line pattern to image formation.These traditional artists were not so interested in focusing on these tricks as on some other content of their preference.

If you start to use shapes rather than lines, new experiments can be generated. Adding color shifts, hue, value or intensity adds the next development. So from line transitions we took the students to shape transitions. From simple figure ground ambiguity we moved to reversing figure ground designs in which the shapes had additional content, like being letter forms or creatures, (think Escher). I hope that the students were following this train of thought. I assumed they were because it was so laborious for them to craft these items in pen and ink that they had plenty of time for their brains to ponder on it. Their results were often very good. As more elements join in the game, possible creative results expand exponentially. Using a vector program makes this all the easier. My computer graphics students can proliferate designs so fast it would make Victor Vasarely roll over in his grave. I do not think they care to imagine what it was like to make these by hand. The end of art is nowhere in sight.

Student’s digital line and square op art examples:

	121cg1_cmc_opsquares2.jpg

121cg1_cmc_opsquares2.jpg

121CG1_JW_checkers

121CG1_JW_checkers

cgvc121_lmp_checkers

cgvc121_lmp_checkers

cgvcd121_eab_oplineart2

cgvcd121_eab_oplineart2

cgvcd121_eab_opsquares4ai

cgvcd121_eab_opsquares4ai

jhorstmanCHECKS

jhorstmanCHECKS

trudylrwbheart

trudylrwbheart

How tos;

Making a Line transition with bend and twist in Adobe Illustrator- see figure

  • Make line stacks with a 6 point stroke
  • Transform /move /vertical -12 point . Copy the repeat transform 50 times or so
  • Option drag to get 8 or so stacks, Align and distribute the stacks
  • With direct select tool select points between stacks and move the set. Repeat till it looks like this
  • Then  apply the twist filter
op line-bent-and-twisted-part-11

op line-bent-and-twisted-part-11

op line-bent-and-twisted-part-2

op line-bent-and-twisted-part-2

mylinetranbendtwisted ©2000 DD

mylinetranbendtwisted ©2000 DD

Making a Shape transition in Adobe Illustrator

  • Shape blend between two triangles- one with apex to left one to right
  • Height of triangle must have multiple values that equals number of steps times vertical distance between top and bottom
  • Run the blend. Here there are 14 steps between two shapes
  • Make another set horizontal as a start guide to reset apexes for additional columns
  • Option drag column and edit apex- repeat to width desired
shape-blend-starts for op shape transition

shape-blend-starts for op shape transition

	shape-transition-1 ©2000 dd

shape-transition-1 ©2000 dd

Line transition with figure ground reversal

figure-ground-reversal-lines

figure-ground-reversal-lines

figure ground reversal dressed up ©2000 dd

figure ground reversal dressed up ©2000 dd

figure-ground-reversal-turned-decoration ©dd 2000

figure-ground-reversal-turned-decoration ©dd 2000

I plan to add an entry about more complex figure ground reversals in the future.

Art and life

In view of the playful, game-like nature of op art, despite the arguments that it points out ambiguities and conditional nature of meaning, I often worry that art is a minor pursuit. But I feel that I can be surer of my conditional statements in art than if I were to make huge blunders in the material world like our government has been making. In art, the players are line, shape and color, reference, etc. In politics and control of wealth I do not even know who the real players are. I do see some ugly results in the real world, so I hope the future will track down the truth.

This from Harold Pinter d.2008: excerpted from Nobel Prize acceptance essay 2005

In 1958 I wrote the following:



’There are no hard distinctions between what is real and what is unreal, nor between what is true and what is false. A thing is not necessarily either true or false; it can be both true and false.’



I believe that these assertions still make sense and do still apply to the exploration of reality through art. So as a writer I stand by them but as a citizen I cannot. As a citizen I must ask: What is true? What is false?…..

So language in art remains a highly ambiguous transaction, a quicksand, a trampoline, a frozen pool, which might give way under you, the author, at any time. 



But as I have said, the search for the truth can never stop. It cannot be adjourned, it cannot be postponed. It has to be faced, right there, on the spot.…

I believe that despite the enormous odds which exist, unflinching, unswerving, fierce intellectual determination, as citizens, to define the real truth of our lives and our societies is a crucial obligation which devolves upon us all.

My PSU printmaking mentor , Bruce Shobaken, used to say about being an artist, “At least I am not hurting anybody”

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Leaf Art

Posted by ddrees on August 2, 2008

I 56 like leaves too. Here is my leaf art set at Flickr. Before personal computers I collected them and pressed them in things like old telephone books. Leaves pressed can mess up a book, so telephone books are perfect except space consuming. I would transfer them to boxes when they were dry. I still run across the boxes in the house, but I throw them out despite the nostalgia for years of leaves gone by. One problem is, as every botanist knows, that you lose the live color in pressed specimens, hence the need for scientific illustrators and photographers. The Smithsonian has cartloads of dried plants, many of which have likely not been seen since they were collected two centuries ago. They had warehouses of such stuff, at least when I was studying scientific illustration there with such greats as Elaine Hodges, author of the main scientific illustration book.

My colleague, Bob Creamer, has made a stunning body of work utilizing some of these stores in his photos.

I also used to photocopy some plants, for their structure. That was better than nothing but the paper took up space and different versions of machines smelled, aged and printed differently. I rarely touch a photocopier anymore. I cannot think of the last time I did. People xeroxing too much used to be a big issue at school so we had to have ID numbers to get into the copier. I have not heard any grumblings about that for a while. Now there are issues about digital color printers. But times change subtly and inexorably. Now I scan the leaves. I have quite a collection, but they do not take up space and they do not make me sneeze.

I also have lots of slides taken with my Zeiss Contaflex which had three close up lenses that could be screwed into an attachment. Now I need to scan the slides to use in the computer. I would like to buy a slide scanner since it is hard being at the right place at the right time to use the school scanner.

So far scanning slides and film has been slow and boring but the scanners are getting cheaper and the speed better. I am no early adopter. I adopt some tools that others have forgotten about like etching, marbling and papermaking. There is a special artistry to all these things. But I also like computers.

Some of my leaf art was made by looking hard at the subjects and rendering them naar het leven. Some were projected slides that I sketched with pencil on the paper tacked on the wall as a screen, as I imagine Vermeer did with his camera obscura or in our middle years with a lucigraph or lacy Lucy or still with the camera lucida.

Jungle plant watercolor ©ddrees 1987

Jungle plant watercolor ©ddrees 1987

After I got the trace I would study prints of the slides, whose color was never right, and watercolor them from there.

Now the computer is added to the mix but I have yet to use my new digital camera. And then there are Flash movies.

I like leaves for the same reasons I like shells and trees and cats and skies and bugs. They have beauty of shape, color, structure, transformation in life cycle and they are emblems and representatives of the vast wonder of it all.

Sweetgum and leaf tiles ©2002 ddrees

Sweetgum and leaf tiles ©2002 ddrees

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