This was a warm up exercise to gear my perception into seeing lines as something more than just a mark on paper. Fleeting lines are all around us and can be permanent, semi permanent, or just a brief glimpse in time.
To tackle this I looked mainly to nature and how I could manipulate it to create lines and patterns. Guided by the idea of different densities, the affect two different materials had on one another when combined, and how different materials behaved in different environments, and recording my experiments on my camera.
Lights at night.
Starting with the idea of light trails that seem invisible to us unless the light source is sped up, or time is slowed down. To discover these hidden lines I used a long exposure on my camera to give give a ghost like neon effect to various illuminated, moving objects in the dark.
Slide show drawing patterns with light trails:
From here I turned my attention to invisible lines in nature that we just cannot see without the help of another medium:
Filing down a bar of iron took the best part of the morning to get a pile of filings, but the results were well worth it. The filings had to be gently shook through a sieve to slowly build up the layers and allow the magnetic field to arrange them into shape. Applied to fast and they tended to clump together and hide the delicate lines.
Iron filings arrange themselves to the secret order of magnetic fields, creating beautiful natural patterns. Check out my slide show of what I discovered:
Strangely enough as I was experimenting with the iron filings it made me think of natural patterns on animals so I looked about for some participants to hand::
Paint also proved an interesting medium, especially when you change its environment and haw it reacts with different materials to create different effects. Here are some examples of paint mixed with water, shaving foam, put under pressure and swirled around.
Different colors of paint swirled into water just before the two mediums mixed.
Yellow acrylic in water created an almost clay like appearance in the clear water. Seeing that the acrylic was too heavy to give a desirable effect, I changed up the densities of the materials to see if I got any different results.
Mixing the water with sugar gave me a thicker, more viscous liquid, and changing the acrylic for water colour concentrate gave a much more exciting insight into the patterns and lines created by convection currents.
The two mediums combined beautifully to create an almost other worldly effect of strange fractal swirls and shapes. This was achieved by dripping the water colour concentrate into the sugar solution and slowly agitating it into swirls while shining a lamp underneath the bottom of a glass bowl. The paint slowly diffused into the water solution turning it a hazy yellow colour.
I then decided to put the paint under some pressure and burst it out of a balloon to see what the resulting patterns were on some paper placed underneath it.
The first test was paint mixed with water as you can see above. A nice explosion effect with the blue. The yellow was a bit thicker and heavier with only a small amount of water added to the paint.
The results were quite predictable, however I unexpectedly managed to capture the exploding paint in a still on camera.
The end result was not as pretty as I had hoped. I found that the bigger the balloon, the more pressure and subsequently more violent the burst resulting in more paint missing the paper and covering both me and the camera!
Another medium I wanted to capture was the swirling organic lines of smoke. For this I set up a light to illuminate the smoke from the side and a holder to hold an incense stick.
Focusing the camera just above the stick and setting it on a fast shutter speed to get the crispness of the lines I managed to get these images:
I also encountered many other naturally occurring lines and shapes in passing, such light shining through my front door casting a spectrum on the wall behind, ripples in water cutting through the reflections, a tree with an eye and the beautiful symmetry of a fern leaf.
On noticing the fern leaf it started me thinking about shapes and patterns in nature that I could manipulate. This lead me to go down to some local fields and forests where I started to collect other organic materials in the hope to make my own natural collages.
I started to notice more and more, different textured leaves, different shades, brightly coloured petals, cut grass, tree bark, moss, mud and sand, all of which I could envisage using as a medium. After gathering up the materials I set about arranging them in whatever forms came to mind.
The mud I was a little unsure of what to do with so I mixed it up and dissolved it in water and decided to paint with it using my hands. The texture was good, and could easily be manipulated by thickening it with more mud, or diluting it with more water, giving the possibility of deeper tonal ranges. It also lent itself well to scratch out lines and marks to define features:
Lines, shapes and patterns are all around us and often go unnoticed. The sheer wounder of nature and its secrets are there for us to see, yet it sits unappreciated by most. What I learned from this exercise is that the majority of the topics I looked at were linked in some way to the 4 elements. Water (ripples/paint), Earth (animals, plants), Air (smoke) and fire (well, light…) I felt a greater understanding of the relationships between these and how the different materials reacted to one another so I could manipulate them to behave how I wanted them too. And above all, it was a hell of a lot of fun on the way.