GOAL: Create a composition in gouache by repeating and then interrupting a symmetry group. You will be working to achieve spatial relationships in your design. When you dissolve, break or change a symmetry group, you establish movement away from and toward the *picture plane. Since uninterrupted repeating pattern accentuates flatness, disruption creates depth. You will also apply color gradation and color interaction to create space, volume and movement. This assignment is modeled on Vasarely's paintings. Don't hesitate to use short-cuts such as tracing paper and a Xerox machine, to reduce your labor on the project.
PART 1, Layout: Observe from the attached examples where Vasarely creates movement, spatial and compositional relationships. The final format of the design must be 15" x 15".
Design a motif of approximately of 1.5 inches to use in any symmetry group from your previous
assignment. Simple geometric shapes will serve best for repeating and changing your motif
in this assignment. Choose one of the following methods to alter symmetry groups:
1. reducing the number of motifs in a group
2. changing the direction(s) of the motif
3. changing the symmetry operation(s) within the group
4. abrubtly altering the shape of the motif
5. gradually altering the shape of the motif
6. gradually altering its scale
2 and 3 may be the same; 5 and 6 are labor intensive because you must redesign the motif for each change during its transformation. Establish the repeat first, interrupt the rhythm, and then return to it.
Translate the symmetry group in several rows on a couple of pieces of tracing paper. Place one copy on top of the other, shifting them around, and observe the visual relationships. Reduce these on the copier and make several copies. Then cut and paste them into desired relationships. Look for different solutions and choose one. These can be xeroxed back up to scale for the final. You can also directly draw the final layout in the original size on tracing paper employing xeroxed copies for reference. Use tracing paper for your final layout so that you can easily transfer it onto the ground.
*Picture plane: The actual flat surface on which the artist executes a pictorial image. The picture plane can also act as a transparent plane of reference to establish the illusion of forms (abstract or representational) existing in three- dimensional space.
Decide what color scheme you would like to work with. Feel free to combine colors intuitively, or refer to the monochromatic, analogous, complementary, split complementary, and warm to cool systems. You will need to mix a minimum of three basic colors for the grounds and the gradations: two for the ground and one for the figure. It's possible to mix all of the other colors from these. If you have a sharp or highly contrasting line between colors in this background it will compete with the design of your pattern. It is helpful to soften the dividing edges when painting the background.
See painting instructions for color grounds on the next page.
a) reverse the color of the motif and ground (positive and negative), and/or
b) paint gradual shifts in color (gradation) in the motif and the ground.
Plan ahead so that you can integrate the shift in background colors with the foreground. Your largest task will be to integrate both the color changes and the pattern changes to create a cohesive composition. By interrupting the pattern you will be creating a one unit composition instead of a design that infinitely covers the plane.
In a complex design, it's easier to paint motifs onto a colored background than to paint around them. Light colors on a dark ground need to be painted twice. Light colors can also run and make a mess. If you encounter this problems, paint your background around the motif. It's a good idea to test out your colors before deciding which way to go with the ground.
On a small sheet of paper make a few 2 or 3 inch patches of possible colors for your ground. Mix the other colors and apply them to the colored grounds to see if light colors will go over the ground, or whatever you need to see. Remember that gouache will dry to a darker, more intense color than when it is wet. A dark colored ground may require additions of white for light colors.
Painting the ground
Mask off edges of your white paper with tape onto a hard painting surface. Cardboard is fine. Press the inside edge of the tape firmly so that paint won't seep beyond the edges.
In a cup mix enough background color to cover your entire sheet of paper. You will have to mix the same color again if you run out in the middle. The consistency should be like thick melted ice cream. If the paint is too thick, it will crack after drying, and if it's too thin, you will have streaks. It is harder to thicken paint than to thin it, so add water judiciously with the eye dropper. Mix the paint thoroughly and test it for the shade you want. Let it dry. Gouache looks darker when wet.
Use a cheap brush, about 1 1/2 inches wide. If your brush sheds pick out the bristles right away before the ground dries.
Some people brush or sponge water on their paper and then wipe it off, leaving a damp surface. This prevents the ground from drying before you finish. This is optional. Paint the entire surface in horizontal directions (just one direction first). Then, before it dries, repaint the same surface in a vertical direction and allow to dry. It will appear uneven until it is completely dry. Don't retouch. Suggestion: Paint two colored grounds. You may need a spare.
Ombre or wash ground:
This is a thin gradated water color ground. It's elegant and atmospheric. Use a 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water. Add drops of gouache from your brush to tint the water. Prepare your paper for painting as above and wet it using tinted water. Add color gradually to the water to create a more intense color as you move from area to another.
There will be a demo of this during critique.
Transfer design onto colored ground with transfer paper.