Patterns in colour

The apple Picker by Helen McNicoll / Alders by Kent Crawford

When I saw the alder trees screen the light above Kennedy Lake I remembered the colour relationships of Helen McNicholl‘s painting, “The Apple Gatherer” c.1911. She placed high key cool colours on top of dulled yellows to describe the colours of the tree leaves in the shadows. This relationship is called discord. I use this colour pattern in my screenprint, “Alders”.

"Alders" colour register and diagram

The center of interest in “The Apple Picker” is the picker dressed in white. Purple is added to white in its shadows to compliment the yellow. A colour against its opposite hue makes the colour pop out. The white of the “Alders” sun is not pure, but has a few drops of purple in it.

Patterns Repeating

There is a repeating pattern that forms along the edges and intersections of colors and shapes and lines that is a reflectaphor. 

A reflectaphor is any creative device (including literature, such as metaphor, simile, pun, paradox or synecdoche) that relies for its effect on creating in the mind of its audience an unresolved tension between the differences and similarities of its terms. In other words, a reflectaphor excites a state of intense wondering, doubt and uncertainty- a sense of nuance.  The repeated colour shapes in my brush marks pull out the reflectaphoric qualities of fractals. Fractals are figures that recur at progressively smaller scales, each part has the same characteristics as the whole. Fractals suggest both order and chaos.

Parts of that pattern combine with other similar but different parts to make a bigger similar pattern. It recurs in variations, providing a sense of unity and wholeness. Hokusai uses this pattern in the woodcut Waterfall at Yoshitsune.

West Lake 2 by Kent Crawford

I use this repeating pattern in the painting West Lake 2.

Patterns Reversed

Port Side Fog, Alaska by Kent Crawford

First there was a mountain, then no mountain, then there was. The figure and ground reverse. I am constantly looking for patterns. Do they find me? This reminds me of Le Bateau

In 2012 I went to Alaska on a boat trip. I found the paintings of Sydney Lawrence in Juneau. Here is his painting, Early Morning, Juneau (c.1920).

Early Morning, Juneau, by Sydney Lawrence