It’s a sad fact of life that there are always massive gaps in one’s eduction, and the most glaring one for me is in the field of art.
Thinking back to my school days, I have no recollection of any enjoyable art classes and no instances where I learned any techniques or tips about either art execution or art appreciation.
So it’s only recently, thanks to hearing about the Escher exhibition in Melbourne, that I gained a minuscule understanding of design principles, which has now made me to want to:
#75 Learn to Tessellate
Although I didn’t make it to the exhibition myself, several friends raved about it, so we had an Escher afternoon where photographs were shared and we discussed various aspects of his life and work.
Being more scientifically inclined, I chose ‘Escher and Mathematics’ as my topic. Talk about naive. Escher is mathematics! Why was this information never explained to me in those rudimentary art sessions I had in primary school? Or in the more complex maths classes I enjoyed at secondary level where they didn’t bother to mention there might be a functional aspect to recurring decimals? Like I said—massive gaps in my education.
It turns out that “Mathematics as it applies to Escher’s work” is a topic way too complicated for a ten minute dissertation over afternoon tea.
How on earth did he conceptualise something as glorious as Sky and Water I ?
So the best I could come up with for my contribution to the afternoon was a short demonstration on how to do a very basic tessellation, also known as how to cover a surface by repeated use of a single shape, without gaps or overlapping. The technique can result in an endless array of mosaic designs and gives one a certain modicum of personal satisfaction.
There are some excellent YouTube tutorials on making a tessellation here and here so I followed one of these and managed to produce something that might scrape a pass in an art exam in grade two or three. Quite an achievement!
I began by cutting out a small square 10cm x 10cm and drawing a curvy design along one side like this,
before cutting the shape out precisely, sliding it across to the opposite side of the square and aligning it perfectly before taping it down like so:
Then I drew another design on the adjacent side of the square, cut it out, slid it across and taped it too:
This little brown template was then used to trace a design onto a larger sheet of paper repeatedly, and
… thanks to the magic of design and recurring patterns, it fits perfectly into itself—over and over:
All that’s needed is a peaceful 30 minutes to colour it in and to add a few markings.
Presto! I had an original design—
This is possibly the most artistic thing I’ve ever managed to create.
I love you M.C.Escher!
How wonderful, such lovely birds! My daughter has a framed Escher reprint so I must have a look at his technique. Recently I enjoyed a class in monoprinting, a style mastered by impressionist Edgar Degas but as my blog post shows, my technique needs work 🙂
Thank you for your kind comment. The beauty of tessellation is that a mere novice can produce something that looks almost artistic!
Monoprinting seems an interesting technique and does produce rather beautiful, ethereal images. Hope you’re able to continue with it.
Thank you, and happy tessellating!