In the middle of my arts-in-ed season I’ve kept trying to find time to mess around, trying to make beautiful images.
Today I started a wonderful, week-long math activity folder project with four classes of kindergarten students, am barely able to stay awake right now, but I’ve been wanting to at least throw these images into my blog here.
I started doing this some time before Easter. Just wanted to make something. Started with a graph that I was able to reduce to just these few lines:
Then I copied, rotated and reflected these lines and came up with a nice tiled surface.
I honestly just loved this image. Parts of it I expected, other parts came as a surprise.
Spent lots of time coloring it in. Mostly used watercolor brushes, SAI Japanese Traditional Colors, but also used some colored pencils.
When it was done, I didn’t much care for the finished result.
It was okay, but didn’t make me as happy as I would have liked.
But then I started playing with it. Put it into Photoshop, isolated squares….
…then did some copying, rotating and reflecting…
I kept coming up with all sorts of stuff that surprised me.
I kept trying out different combinations…
… and then because Easter was on my mind I started wondering if I could map these on to eggs in Illustrator.
Turns out the answer was yes.
These were so fun to do.
I liked how the watercolor translated so well in to the digital environment.
Was very surprised that I ended up with these eggs. But very happy.
OK, that’s it for now. Gotta get ready for tomorrow with kindergarten!
I got to spend some time with a group of kids and moms this past Sunday. They had asked me to plan a math/art project for them. Last time we did this we played with shapes scaled according to the golden ratio. This time I wanted to help them make images that are made by rotating a graphic around a circle. We used a circle that was divided into twelve equal sections, and we got to talk about how rich the number 12 is, in that it comes up often in measurement of time (hours, months), quantities (dozen), distance (Inches) and so much more.
Images were made in two ways. One was to connect the dots around the circle according to a rule, such as connect the first dot to the fifth, connect the fifth dot to the tenth, connect the tenth dot to the dot that is plus+5 further around the circle, then continue until you are back where you started from. A star emerges!
We started the afternoon by sitting in a circle of eight people, and doing the skip-counting activities that I described above. This was actually a thrill to me, as it’s something I’ve wanted to try out for a long time. As the star shape grew within the circle of people, who were the “points”, everyone was thrilled. They had no idea a star would emerged. I knew, but I was thrilled too.
I had PDF printout of circles and shapes.People cut out shapes that they wanted to rotate around the center, then colored them in if they wanted to.
The moms seemed to like this activity at least as much as the kids.
I never know how these projects will go. A couple of the boys didn’t want to be coloring any more after a while. One boy in particular really liked cutting paper, so I got him started with another kind of rotational symmetry: making snowflakes!
I hadn’t thought about snowflakes beforehand, but liked the way I was able to link to something that was already familiar to this group.
After awhile one of the girls was finished with coloring, I showed her how to make an origami pockets that were sized for the drawings to slip into.
She really liked making the pockets, and made them for everyone. This also let me segue into showing her how to make a square from a sheet of paper.
In the end, we had made lots of images, pockets, snowflakes and our work area was delightfully messy. Everyone helped with the cleanup, especially with the tiny pieces of paper on the floor.
At the end we put our tiles out on display.
A couple of hours later one of the mom’s texted me saying that, on the way home, her kids were asking to do more of these. YAY!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
I was pretty happy wit the way this one turned out.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Since I started decorating my own papers with geometric designs (as well as decorating geometric designs) I’ve been flummoxed about color combinations. Some of the decisions I’ve made have been truly horrible. Sometimes they’ve not been so awful, but, even then, it takes way too long to come up with color combinations that look good to me.
I suppose I could take an on-line class about color theory, but somehow I’m just not drawn to do that just now. Abode has a palette-sharing site, but it’s not supported in the version I use. Recently, having spent way too much time having way too little success, it finally occurred to me to try out dipping directly into the palettes of painters who use color in a way that sing to me.
I probably wouldn’t write about this if I could do this only in Adobe Illustrator, since this info would be totally useless to most people. I noticed, though, that more and more people in my circle are using Inkscape, which is a free graphics program, and it turns out that dipping into the palettes my favorite painters is even easier to do in Inkscape than Illustrator.
Here’s what to do in Inkscape. Find a painting you’d like to dip into. Save it to your computer. Drag and drop it into Inkscape. Select the shape or area that you want to color. Press F7 or choose the eyedropper tool (second to the last tool from the bottom on the left side) and click on the color on the painting that you want to use. That’s it.
To do this in Adobe Illustrator, it’s bit more complicated. Place the image into the Illustrator file, then vectorize it in Image Trace. I generally use the high fidelity photo setting in image trace. This separates the painting into regions, which if you zoom in really closely looks abstract and totally cool (in Inkscape, getting this close just looks blurry).
Just like in Inkscape, to harvest the color use the eyedropper tool, which has the key shortcut “I”. I’ve been using the live paintbucket tool (k) to fill in the areas that I want to color, but, like Inkscape, choosing the shape then the eyedropper works too.
Now, I just want to mention that even though this is the best method I’ve used to choose colors digitally, there’s still a bunch of trial and error. But instead of me doing trail and error with millions of colors, I’m using this more limited palette. Works for me. Am having lots of fun with this.
Harry O’Malley just pointed me towards http://www.colourlovers.com/, which looks like the internet’s free version of Adobe’s Kuler. Yay! Another color resource! (I can use all the help I can get.)