Gray Matter

No, I’m not talking about brain tissues. The heading “gray matter” refers to the palette of colors that was used to create these three digital abstractions. At first glance, the colors (hues) in this palette don’t seem particularly varied.

On closer inspection of these “grays” we see that there are many variants of “warm” hues from pinks and oranges to subtle greens. Using the blending modes in Procreate app for iPad, I was able to intensify and, in some cases mix these colors to achieve the finished results below. The blending modes, which I have mentioned in previous posts, allow for changes to hue, transparency and intensity of colors that are placed on layers. When the upper layer has a blending mode applied to it, the layers below are affected by that change. To make the final compositions more interesting, I applied a canvas texture to the central objects in each of the three designs.

Red and Black

There is something rich and almost velvety about deep red colors against the boldness of black. These new digital abstractions take advantage of this striking contrast. They all share the same color palette and have very similar content. One of my favorite techniques in Procreate app for iPad is to experiment with blending modes. These images are built up of layers of color and shape. If you select one of the higher layers (as at the top of a stack) and apply different blending modes, you end up with very different colors and sometimes transparent results. The blending modes change the relationship of color and transparency with the layers below. Many subtle gradations of overlapping textures and colors can be achieved this way.

Here are some possible combinations of the designs as triptychs.

Digital Dapples

These new digital abstractions were done in Procreate app for iPad. Using a brush called bonobo chalk, I’ve created images that have a diffused, spatter-like quality. One has a white background showing subtle overlapping color mixtures that are almost like miniature pointillist painting. The other two compositions have dark backgrounds that emphasize the intensity of the speckled colors. A technique that helped create them is to use a “brush” as an eraser. It can cut through or around dappled areas to create negative lines.

White background with “pointillist” overlapping
Dark background emphasizing bright areas of color
Dark background emphasizing bright speckled areas of color
negative lines created with “eraser” brush

Circular Thinking

Well, it may not be “circular thinking” as such but at least thinking about circles. That seems to be what was on my mind while working on these abstractions. Circular shapes of various textures, colors and sizes are the subject matter of all three compositions. The backgrounds of all three have a stippled or textured quality giving a sense of “dry brush” or of being “rolled” on. All were created digitally with Procreate app for iPad using an Apple pencil.

About Face … Again

Over a year ago, in the midst of rising anguish about Covid-19, I posted some humorous abstract faces to try to cheer things up a bit. That was in April of 2020.

Things are improving but we still have a ways to go so here are a few more that I just finished. My hope is that they will cheer up those still struggling with the pandemic and maybe, provide a sigh of relief for the rest of us who are fortunate to be past the worst of it.

They were created with Procreate app for iPad using an Apple pencil.

Ellen thinks this is my self portrait … who knows

More Gold

In my recent abstracts, I’ve enjoyed working with images using gold as backgrounds. Here are three new compositions incorporating digital photos of gold surfaces. As with the last posting, I have used a very limited palette so that the golden color and textures show through beneath bold geometric shapes. They were created digitally in Procreate app for iPad with added surface textures generated in iColorama app.

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.

A Rhythm of Circles

I love using circles and round shapes for composing my abstractions. They can act as anchors or focal points as well as locations from which to radiate light or movement using line and color. In all three of these images circular shapes formed a starting point and central part of the compositions. Incorporating these shapes suggested using curved or rounded objects and lines to connect the elements of each design producing a “rhythm of circles”.

They were created digitally in Procreate app for iPad using an Apple Pencil.

We have recently been enjoying old Danny Kaye movies like The Court Jester and Hans Christian Anderson, wonderful comic family classics. Thinking about circles brought to mind this charming quote.

Draw a circle, not a heart, around the one you love because a heart can break but a circle goes on forever.

Danny Kaye

Darkness into Light

These three compositions started out as most of my digital abstracts. I had no preconceived subject or meaning when I began. The only constraint was that I wanted all three to have a black background. As I composed the first two images I thought of the ancient concept of Darkness into Light and that these images might act as visual metaphors for the present darkness of the coronavirus. Darkness into Light is itself a metaphor for overcoming the difficulties of life, going from ignorance to knowledge, fear to courage. The third composition is the lightest of all three. Hopefully over time we will find the answers to bring us through this pandemic and into that metaphorical light.

All three images were created in Procreate app for iPad.

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.