Drawings · Geometric Drawings · Uncategorized

Coloring Books and me

Scaling Shapes, Visons of the Universe by Alex Bellos & Edmund Harriss
Scaling Shapes, designed by Professor Chaim Goodman- Strauss, Visions of the Universe by Alex Bellos & Edmund Harriss

I’ve always loved coloring books. Is this true for every kid? I really don’t know. Are coloring books for kids even around much anymore?

When the coloring books for adults became all the rage a few years ago, it made perfect sense to me, although most of the titles on the market didn’t interest me much. I like sense an underlying  rigorous structure, but one that is not simply symmetrical. Naturally, then, I fell in love with the books by Alex Bellos and Edmund Harris.

Patterns of the Universe and Visions of the Universe by Alex Bellos and Edmund Harriss
Patterns of the Universe and Visions of the Universe by Alex Bellos and Edmund Harriss, published by The Experiment

In the interest of full disclosure, I have not been asked to write this post by anyone connected to these books. In fact, the reason I am writing this now is because I am working on something else that won’t be ready to write about for awhile, so I thought that, with the holiday season upon us, the colorfulness of writing about these books seems timely.

Cascading Waves, Read the Sines, Patterns of the Universe by Alex Bellos and Edmund Harriss
Cascading Waves, Read the Sines, Patterns of the Universe by Alex Bellos and Edmund Harriss

I love these books for all the same reasons that I’ve always loved coloring books. They let me mess around with color without having to think too much about form. Just experimenting with color combinations without thinking about much else is a great thing for me to do when I’m wanting to make something but not feeling particularly ambitious. I think this cascading waves is my favorite of all the pages. If the authors happen to be reading this, please make more versions of this one for me, please.

Polyhedra, Cascading Waves, Read the Sines, Patterns of the Universe by Alex Bellos and Edmund Harriss
Polyhedra, Cascading Waves, Read the Sines, Patterns of the Universe by Alex Bellos and Edmund Harriss

I do not recommend using crayons in these books. The image above in started as crayon only, but it didn’t have a look that I liked until I added those crackly lines made with markers. Crayons are amazing when used on paper that is a bit rough, just like the newsprint paper in traditional coloring books, but seems to me that they aren’t well suited for the smooth papers of adult coloring books.

Modular Forms, Visions of the Universe by Alexs Bellos & Edmund Harriss
Modular Forms, Visions of the Universe by Alexs Bellos & Edmund Harriss

Colored pencils work well on these pages, but be advised that not all colored pencils are created equal. The best value for colored pencils are the Crayola brand, but Prismacolor Colored Pencils are just about the only upgrade that makes sense. If I’m using colored pencils on these pages, it’s Prismacolor that I’m using. However, If I am making drawings of my own, using my own designs, I generally use my absolute favorite colored pencils, made by Caran D’Ache.

Petit Fourier 1, Patterns of the Universe by Alex Bellos and Edmund Harriss
Petit Fourier 1, Patterns of the Universe by Alex Bellos and Edmund Harriss

Sometimes mixing up the Prismacolors with markers works out best. This page above, which references color bands used by Georgia O’Keefe in one of her paintings, was done with both Prismacolors and brush markers (an expensive Japanese brand, SAI).

Read the Sines, Patterns of the Universe by Alex Bellos and Edmund Harriss
Read the Sines, Patterns of the Universe by Alex Bellos and Edmund Harriss

I love the way Sharpies look on these pages. Yes, they bleed through like crazy, so I always put a protective piece under the page that I am working on. Otherwise, I don’t care that they bleed through the page. The publishers of these books were kind enough to keep the verso side of the spread mostly blank, so I don’t lose anything that I’m not willing to lose in the interest of using exactly the materials that I want to use.

The Collatz Conjecture, Visions of the Universe by Alexs Bellos & Edmund Harriss
The Collatz Conjecture, Visions of the Universe by Alexs Bellos & Edmund Harriss

My favorite pages, so far, are one that are not full of tiny, tiny details, like the one above, These tiny details require more attention than is comfortable for me.

The Kolakoski Sequence, The Collatz Conjecture, Visions of the Universe by Alexs Bellos & Edmund Harriss
The Kolakoski Sequence, Visions of the Universe by Alexs Bellos & Edmund Harriss

This Kolakoski Sequence has just about the right balance for me of detail and broad areas of color. I’m generally more interested in the description of the form after I’ve colored it, but in this case it was already obscured by the bleed through from the previous image. Oh, well, I still have the internet.

Mechanical Curves, Patterns of the Universe by Alex Bellos and Edmund Harriss
Mechanical Curves, Patterns of the Universe by Alex Bellos and Edmund Harriss

Here’s another one done with both markers and pencils. I didn’t find this uncolored page very compelling, so I challenged myself to use color to make it more interesting to me.

detail Mechanical Curves, Patterns of the Universe by Alex Bellos and Edmund Harriss
detail Mechanical Curves, Patterns of the Universe by Alex Bellos and Edmund Harriss

I was pretty happy wit the way this one turned out.

Dodecapliex, Patterns of the Universe by Alex Bellos and Edmund Harriss
Dodecaplex, Patterns of the Universe by Alex Bellos and Edmund Harriss

The thing I like the most about these books is that I can pick them up and put them down with impunity. I don’t have to remember what I was thinking about or where to start. During the years of raising children and never having any extended amounts of time to work on anything, it still makes me feel happy to have something to do that doesn’t suffer from interruptions.

Spiral Tile,Patterns of the Universe by Alex Bellos and Edmund Harriss
Spiral Tile,Patterns of the Universe by Alex Bellos and Edmund Harriss

This spiral is the first one I did in these books. Took quite a few sitting before I considered to be finished, but that’s fine.

Co-Prime Numbers, Patterns of the Universe by Alex Bellos and Edmund Harriss
Co-Prime Numbers, Patterns of the Universe by Alex Bellos and Edmund Harriss

Here I got to play with trying to create a illusion that these circles were not in a precisely straight line. Sadly, in this photo that illusion seems to be mostly lost, but on the page they do look wiggly.

Graph Theory, Visions of the Universe by Alexs Bellos & Edmund Harriss
Graph Theory, Visions of the Universe by Alexs Bellos & Edmund Harriss

Not all drawings that I do come out great. Some come out well but don’t photograph well, like this one, which I love, but doesn’t seem to like the camera much. Sharpies love the camera.

Those funny shapes to the right of the page are called Sphericons. They are peculiar, funny, and I will making some to give away and some to hang on our tree. They are pesky to try to make out of paper, hence it will be many more days before they get a post of their own. But am happy to have finally made a post about my favorite coloring books.

OH, and if the editors or authors are taking requests, how about a coloring book along the same themes as these, made for kids and printed like old-fashioned coloring books, on newsprint, so that crayons would be the preferred medium? A mathy coloring book for kids, with large, not-particularly detailed patterns sounds like a great idea to me.

 

 

 

Drawings · valentine

Valentine Angels

Valentine Girl

Now for something completely different.

Valentine angels.

Valentine Angel 1
Valentine Angel 1

Been making these with Valentines Day in mind.

Five Valentine Angels
Five Valentine Angels

Most of these little sketches fail completely. But sometimes they don’t. I’m just putting up the ones that I like.

Angel full of love
Angel full of love

Early for Valentine’s Day, never too early to spread around some love.

Colorful Valentine Angel
Colorful Valentine Angel

Thinking of my daughter while I draw these, while she is enjoying her semester in London.

 

 

Drawings · Making Books with children · Making books with elementary students

Re-Framing a Lesson

Bookmaking with First Graders
Bookmaking with First Graders

OMG Have I got a teaching tip for anyone who has ever pulled their hair out trying encourage students to make their drawings bigger, to fill up the page. It’s only taken me like 25 years of working with students to figure this out. This is big.

Filling up a page with a drawing
Filling up a page with a drawing

There’s this variations of a bookmaking project that I do with mostly first and second graders that includes a drawing. The bigger and bolder the drawing is, the better it looks in the book. Needless to say, it’s such a struggle for this age of student to make their drawings big enough.

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Usually I give the students the paper that their drawing goes on and do everything but beg them to draw bigger. Well, sometimes I beg. Then, yesterday  (Friday)  Carter, a 7 year-old in my first class of the day, suggested that, before they start their drawing, I  lay the paper inside the frame that will surround it. It had never occurred to me to do this, so I tried it out in my next class of the day.

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Unbelievable. In my next class, after sliding the paper behind the frame before the drawing began, every single student filled up the paper with large bold drawings to go along with their stories.

Never has this happened before.

Maybe it was just a fluke, maybe this class had been bribed enough times to fill up the page that they now did it instinctively. I had one more class to go.

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Next class, same thing happened. They filled up the space with big drawings.

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Some students lifted the frame away after the first part of the drawing was done so that they could make their drawings even bigger. OMG I was so happy. My conclusion: if you want students to make a drawing to fill up a space, FRAME THE SPACE with a dark frame! I don’t know why it works, but far be it from me to ever think I can fathom what goes on in the mind of a 7 year-old.

Now here’s the part that gives me chills…I have to ask myself, why did Carter put forth his suggestion? I give credit to this: recently I was impressed by reading Malke Rosenfeld’s book about engaging students in whole body learning. While I teach different subject matter than Malke, I am deeply impressed by how she gives her students permission to explore the learning space before she begins her lessons. I took this to heart, and this week, for the first time, within certain boundaries, I encouraged students to fold and unfold, then explore and examine the materials that we were using together. In some way I think this sense of engagement with the materials led Carter to making a suggestion that was based on what would have worked better for him. I already know that my best teaching tips come from the single digit crowd, I just don’t always know how to tap into them.

So thank you Malke, thank you Carter, and OMG I am so happy.

 

Drawings · NYC Story

Lost & Found in NYC

11" x 14"
11″ x 14″

I used to carry around this really big sketch book when I lived in NYC.

img_20161206_125633.jpg

The way I would get comfortable with a place was by drawing it.

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For years I volunteered on day a week in the bookbindery located under the Watson Library in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. MMA is not very close to subway station. I usually would do the walk to take the subway back to Brooklyn, but this one day I was just so puckered out I thought I’d take the bus downtown.

I rarely took buses, so I didn’t know which was going where, but at 5:30 on a winter’s evening, with the typical ocean of buses heading downtown, I figured I could get on just any bus and chances were good I’d be able to get off near a subway station.

Williamsburg Birdge and old Schaefer Beer Building
Williamsburg Bridge and old Schaefer Beer Building, view from my window at home

I got on the first bus that I saw. Walked on, paid my fare, nodded and smiled at the bus driver, found a seat and let my thoughts drift to thoughts of home. ..then it occurred me that I might have left my keys at the Met. This would be a Very Bad Thing.

close up of Fire hydrant from the preivious drawing
close up of Fire hydrant from the previous drawing

I looked through my bag. No keys. Started taking things out of my bag. Still no keys. I started to panic. The Met would closed up by 6:00.

I rushed up, got off as the bus pulled to the next stop. Got to the sidewalk. Stopped. Checked my bag again before zooming back uptown. The keys were there (of course they were…). Sigh. Relief.  But….

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OH NO> in my hurry to get off the bus, after taking stuff out of my bag, I realized that MY SKETCHBOOK WAS STILL ON THE BUS.  Now I had a reason to panic. I didn’t want to lose that sketchbook. I hailed a cab. At rush hour in NYC it was some kind of miracle that I could find a cab so fast. I told the cabby I had an unusual request – to which he responded by nearly throwing me out of the cab before I explained that I needed to find a bus, and yes, I would pay him. The game was on!

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We were now getting close to 59th Street. There were just scores of buses on the street. I hadn’t paid attention to the bus I got on, but I remembered acknowledging the bus driver. Finally, I saw the bus driver from the cab. Jumped out (paid the cabby, with a tip) and rushed to get to a place where I could get on to the bus.

In my absence, someone had picked up my sketchbook, looked through it, and passed it on to someone else.

That person had looked through the book and shared it with another passenger. Who also kept it in circulation.

In fact, I think the sketchbook had circulated through the whole bus. How do I know this? I know this because the moment I stepped on to the bus and the passengers saw me…

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…they cheered.