Sunday, May 8, 2011

More Methods of Organizing Elements

I am actively collecting materials for the mystery boxes. I picked up the panels Friday
and have some interesting (and challenging) things coming together for the post-con workshops.

How to make a collection of found objects into art? Organize, my friends, organize.

In my last post I showed a list of organizing principles. I'm going to repeat that list here so that you can see the possibilities more easily.

  • Simplification
  • Geometry and symmetry
  • Emphasis or focus
  • Harmony
  • Unity
  • Opposition
  • Balance
  • Variety
  • Depth
  • Meaning

One item you will not see specifically listed is Patterning. I suppose this method could be summed up as repetition and rhythm. I'll show you a few examples. Some are mainly made with paint or line, so you will have to imagine the elements as having three dimensions.

Patterning Examples

Diana Gonzalez Gandolfi, Falling, 2005, encaustic and oil
on wood, 56"x32 "

Here's a piece that mixes three types of patterning. (Bet you thought I was going to say two types.) Let's start at the bottom with the dark checkerboard and those three light-colored stripes that not only break up the regular pattern, but also tie in the color  to the more expansive top of the piece. The top section actually divides nearly in half, with a regular pattern in the section that touches the checkerboard and then the top part where several patterns overlap to the point that in places they stop being patterns. Where is the rhythm on the top part? Disappeared into layering.

If you were going to make a similar piece using 3D objects, perhaps you could paint on the checkerboard with two colors of gesso and then layer over that with clear or a colored encaustic. Or if you had enough small objects such as beads or pieces of fabric or cardboard or metal, you could arrange them in a pattern. Maybe you would paint on the checkerboard and then have dimensional objects where the three white strips are. I hope you're asking yourself what you could do with 3D objects and/or encaustic on the top.

Kristina Bell Di Tullo, Pattern 1: Band Aid, 2009, sheer adhesive
bandages on paper, 22.5" x 15"

Here's an example of very regular patterning using just one type of element..

Kristina Bell Di Tullo, Affect/Effect II (back), sheer and clear adhesive
bandages on a  clear shower curtain

And here is the same idea on a larger scale. Notice how the pattern is disturbed in several areas and disintegrates at the edges. The interruptions actually make the pattern become more observable and make the piece unique in its imperfections.

Fanne Fernow, Prayers for the Earth, diptych, 18"x36", encaustic on panel, 2010

Here's another painting that becomes more distinctive because of irregularities in the patterning. We see the break and we wonder why it is there and what it means.

Laura Wait, Verdant Script, 24" x 24", encaustic on panel with sumi ink
on Japanese papers

Laura's piece has an underneath pattern of squares and rectangles, a pattern of script in a lighter weight through the center of the panel and then top and bottom pieces of larger and heavier script. A method of patterning such as this that emphasizes changes in scale could be used to integrate similar elements in two or more sizes. Underneath rectangles could be painted with encaustic or colored gesso with encaustic layered over.

Nancy Natale, Once Upon a Time, diptych, 2009, 24"x12", encaustic
with rubber, crocheted cord, tacks, beads, soil

I couldn't resist putting in one of my own in because I'm a girl who loves patterning. So this piece has several different kinds of patterning: the crocheted piece at top, the rubber tacked into several kinds of shapes and the tacks themselves forming a pattern, the paint skin painted in a pattern and the drawn black encaustic loops at the bottom. Another pattern that you can't see from the front is the rubber tacked onto the sides in strips.

When I made this piece, I was thinking about giving an effect of mirroring on the two panels. The crocheted piece is mirrored on the bottom panel both by the paint skin pattern and the open loops. The central, beaded area on the top panel is mirrored by the loops at bottom and framed by the raised rubber. I could have substituted textiles for the rubber and the more intricate patterns of the crochet and paint skin could have been made with beads or other objects.

(By the way, in case you don't know what a paint skin is, it is a layer of acrylic paint and medium painted onto plastic, dried and then carefully peeled away from the plastic and adhered to something. I tried this with a bed of encaustic and it worked beautifully. To hold it in place, I applied a thin layer of encaustic over it and fused very lightly with a gun.)

David Collins, In Her Room, oil on linen, 30"x26" 

I saw this image on Lorraine Glessner's blog the other day and thought that something like this could easily be accomplished with three-dimensional objects. I liked the asymmetry of the arrangement and the way that the blue pattern is partially hidden by the other areas that seem to be stacked on top. If you were working in 3D, you could actually stack pieces of paper or textile on top. You could make a pattern with beads or other small objects and perhaps you could have an underneath pattern in metal or wood or even colored gesso such as David Collins has done with the darker brown rectangles. This gives the piece a lot more depth and adds to the illusion of the stacking. The blue squiggly form at top right really works hard with the other blues and pushes back the red. Block it out when you look at this image and you'll see the difference.

Pattern Plus
What does pattern do for an artwork? It imparts a sense of order and becomes a foil for other elements. If you look at the list of organizing elements at the top of this post, you will notice that patterning touches on all of them with the possible exception of Meaning. A case could be made for patterning to have meaning all on its own, outside of the elements from which it is composed. To take an easy example, a checkerboard pattern could infer games or a rigid timetable or geometry in general. In the case of the works pictured above that were made from band-aids, the arrangement into strictly regular patterning seems to say something about the band-aids themselves. If such a pattern had been formed using pieces of fabric, for example, would it have such intensity? What if the band-aids were not arranged into a pattern? Wouldn't we see them more clearly as band-aids.

However, it seems to me that the principle of Meaning in art deserves much more consideration and a post of its own. So that will be the next topic.

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