Anatomy of a Painting

"Warpt Coil", 1999

The drawing for the original image, a 19.5" x 27.5" watercolor, began as an irregular spiral, onto which I drew a lattice of triangles. This was then subdivided into hexagons and, further, into irregular quadrilaterals. Just as all of the lines tip off vertical and horizontal, all of the shapes are intentionally unique and eccentric. Both the tangent black and white and the three primary colors recur every third step along three axes. The resulting field can be read alternately as patterns of interlocked hexagons, cubes, stars, stairsteps, etc. Although I intend for these competing illusions to be difficult to grasp and hold onto, I thought it might be an instructive use of this site to isolate them. A slide of the painting was scanned into Photoshop, where the colors were made consistently intense. A copy was made, reduced in brightness and contrast, and laid over the original. I then "cut out" various patterns, exposing the intense colors of the layer beneath. Nine variant readings, set against the original, can be viewed by moving your mouse over the selections below. Both the original image and each selection links to a larger versions of the respective image.

Original | Spiral | Triangles | Red Stairs | Red Yellow and Blue Stairs
Red Yellow and Blue Ribbons | Cubes | Stars | Clusters | Lattice

This shows the shape of the original spiral, onto which are "strung" the small hexagons that lie at the hub of each cluster of six triangles.
The pattern of alternately intense and muted triangles shows the second stage of the drawing process.
This highlights the pattern of red, black and white stairs that follow a mostly vertical axis. There are two more red stair patterns that run on more diagonal courses (see "triangles")
Alternating red, yellow and blue staircases on mostly vertical axes. As with "red stairs" this sequence has two more diagonal crossing patterns.
This pattern of "twisted" ribbons is the inverse of the spaces between the rby stairs.
A field of all the cubes that are white on top, black on the left and red on the right. (In an interlocked "babyblock" pattern such as this, all the facets are shared by two cubes, so that each shape exists in two different spatial locations.)
A filed of all the irregular six point stars that are red in the uppermost point, yellow in the left and blue in the right. As with the cubes each of the star facets are shared by interlocking stars.
This shows both the expansion of the pattern around the central, muted hexagons and the clustering of the larger shapes around the smaller central one.
A lattice formed by the crossing of the three yellow, black and white staircases. The spaces between are muted hexagons.