Layers and Lines

My working method for these new abstractions could be summed up in these two words, layers and lines. They were created digitally in Procreate app for ipad. The complexity of the designs is achieved with various shapes and overlapping colors that are built up in layers. Some of the shapes are transparent and some opaque. Line work was later added over this complex base. Two methods were used for creating the lines. A drawing tool, technical pen, was used for the thinner lines. Most of the wider lines were made by using a medium hard air brush tool. To make these slightly wider lines, the air brush tool was used in the eraser mode to cut the lines out of existing solid shapes. When the images were complete, I felt that they could be enhanced by digitally adding a slightly embossed or raised texture. This was done in another app, iColorama, which is normally used for digital photo enhancement.

You can see them at full size by clicking on each image below.

The finer light lines were made with the technical pen tool drawn over the layered base. Wider lines were made with the air brush tool (used in eraser mode) to cut through existing solid shapes.

Tiny Universes

These visual improvisations were digitally created with color, line, texture and shapes. Looking at times like maps or tiny universes that represent their own innate reality, they are products of the imagination and not representational. Each seems complete in itself and yet they all want to expand outward as if they are only a snapshot of some larger entity.

All three were created in Procreate app for the iPad. One of the techniques I use in making these images is to start with a solid form and cut away shapes (circles or lines) so that the background can show through. All of these use that method along with layering and various amounts of translucency, mixing colors and textures. A semi-embossed texture was finally added in iColorama app.

Bits and Pieces

Starting with a single geometric shape, I divided it into sections by color and then created more multi-colored shapes in a similar fashion. I added backgrounds of textures and patterns to contrast with the shapes. Trying to keep a feeling of cheerfulness in this dark time, the colors of the geometric objects were kept to pastel shades. It might be nice to think of them as bits and pieces of light and hope for the future. All three compositions were designed in Procreate app for iPad. When they were finished, I added a slightly “embossed” texture in iColorama app.

Using Patterns

One of the interesting attributes of Procreate app for the iPad is the use of brushes to fill areas of the “canvas” with a given pattern. This is very convenient when putting together a digital collage. Instead of just drawing a line or spraying a color these pattern brushes can lay down whole areas or shapes with a predetermined repeating design. The three abstractions below are experiments in using several new pattern brushes to digitally mimic the traditional method of cutting and pasting various patterned elements for a mixed-media composition.

Texturing and Blending

My newest digital abstractions make use of various brush textures as well as virtual texturing to make the images look like they were painted on porous stone-like surfaces. They were created using layers. On each layer there were various objects and colors which when combined made up the composite final image. I also made extensive use of blending modes. These are used to change the transparency and color relationship (blending) with the layers below. Applying blending modes made it possible to build up rich combinations of shapes and colors, something like pasting different colored pieces of thin tissue paper in layers.

All three of these compositions were created on an iPad using Procreate app and an Apple pencil. When the images were finished I used iColorama app to add surface textures to complete the process.

Select any of the thumbnail images below to see composition at full size.

String Theory

No, I’m not going to get “tangled” in a discussion of quantum physics. “String theory” just seemed like a good description of these latest abstractions. They were created in Procreate app for iPad. The background was built up of layers with overlapping wedges of different colors. Then I added layers with large round shapes. One of the techniques for using Procreate is to use blending modes to control the transparency of the objects. You can also control how those objects mix with colors of objects on other layers. This is how the complex overlapping of shapes was done. On top of this layered background, I added circles and lines making a web of interconnecting patterns. It’s these random looking connections that made me think of “string theory”. I wanted these to have a “graphic” look, flattening their appearance. To do this I edited them in iColorama app to add closely textured surfaces to look like canvas or textured paper.

A New Triptych

At this trying time I send my very best wishes and hope for everyone’s safety and well being. With the threat of the coronavirus we all are having to alter our normal lives. Here in Danville we have cancelled all life drawing sessions for the foreseeable future so I will not be posting many life drawings for a while. I hope to do some figure drawing from online photos and videos and will post some of those when I can. I will continue to create digital abstractions using Procreate app and those I hope to post regularly.

A new triptych is my latest effort with Procreate. I had done a couple of triptychs previously in a paraphrase of Kandinsky’s imagery. This new group of three compositions differs from those both in style and dimensions. For these I used a square format and a very warm palette. All three have similar elements and colors. In a sense they are all variations on a theme. I often add texture to a finished Procreate composition by running it through iColorama app. For these three I did a single layer of color in Procreate and textured that layer in iColorama before composing the designs. The textured backgrounds of all three are the same although I tilted them in different directions for variety.

Here are three possible arrangements of the three images.

Circuit Bored

A couple of days each month I volunteer as a docent at the St. Johnsbury Athenaeum Gallery in St. Johnsbury, Vermont. It has a wonderful collection of 19th century artworks. The building itself is beautiful and is on the National Register of Historic Places (U.S. National Park Service). During the summer months and in the Fall foliage season the place is hopping with tourists eager to see the building with its library and art gallery. At this time of year it can be rather lonely in the gallery. I was there today for my two hour stint and had only four visitors (pretty good for Winter, actually). I always bring something to read or even better, my iPad. Since I was trying to fill the time productively, I pulled out the iPad and started working on these three new abstracts.

The director of the Athenaeum, Bob Joly was in today and I showed him what I was working on. He said they reminded him of a circuit board. I hadn’t intended to imply that but it was a fun idea. I had plenty of time to work on them with so few visitors so I combined Bob’s “circuit” idea with my boredom and came up with the heading above.

My real intention with these pieces was to use vibrant complimentary colors in simple arrangements to create a lot of energy. The minimal textures were then interconnected with overlapping squiggly lines. They were created in Procreate app for the iPad using an Apple pencil. For the last image I used iColorama app to add a stippled surface texture.

Circles and Stripes

After spending several weeks reflecting on Kandinsky’s symbols and compositional approach, I’m returning to my more typical method of composing abstractions. Although the current palette is similar to the recent “Kandinsky” pieces, all three of these “revolve” around circles and stripes (line work) as subject matter. Curving shapes of analogous colors were added in layers to give motion to the compositions. All were done with Procreate app using an iPad and Apple Pencil. The background layers were altered in iColorama app adding stippled or pitted surface textures for more visual interest.

Marks and Angles

Pardon the awful pun…I just couldn’t resist when I thought of it. Today’s abstractions DO contain marks and angles. That is one of the unifying characteristics of these three. The angles go in many directions, giving movement to each composition. Some of the Procreate brushes that were used have a rough texture and on top of that I added more distressed textures (marks) using iColorama . I wanted to create the illusion of a stone-like surface over which the “paint” was applied. I also continued with an earlier approach using straight lines and mostly analogous color palettes. There are a few circles and curved shapes as well to give variety.