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I’m taking a trip back to 2018 for this post which, yes, you guessed it, seems like a lifetime ago now. These geometric grid pieces were given the working title Summer Nights and attempted to abstract a warm vibe with vivid and electric colours. I believe the ultimate goal was to make letters out of them, but unfortunately they were not finished before they were abandoned.

However, revisiting these in 2021 created the germ of the ideas that have appeared in recent weeks, so they are now pertinent.

Indeed the new pieces were made on the same files as the 2018 work, hence the similar colours and style. Some do stick out rather, though; even more once I dragged them kicking and screaming into Photoshop for some filtering fun.

Perhaps it says something that, after all of this experimentation, I ended up going back to the very first idea and really found it to be the most enjoyable process. Maybe I will try and put some letters together after all, although saying I might do something on here seems to be the kiss of death for my productivity! Fingers crossed for an exception to the rule.

So there we are: what’s old is new again. if you don’t like it now, put it away but don’t bin it. You might need it in three years.

Remember those art lessons in first school where you’d be given sheets of tissue paper to cut out flower shapes, and have to stick them to sugar paper using those glue spreaders? Wasn’t it always a mess, with the tissue paper getting all crumpled if not outright ripped? Maybe that was just me? Should I stop with the questions already? What is this?

Well anyway, this geometric exercise was reminiscent of those days, just without the heady whiff of PVA. I wanted to do something with flowers and spring again, but quite where or why the triangle fetish emerged I have no idea. Still, I’m always willing to give new things a go and what we have here is me just drawing triangles in rather a carefree manner (for me at least) to give some semblance of a flowerhead.

Of course, then came the onslaught of Photoshop effects! Similar to my previous spring exploration, mostly dropping old pieces or textures over and under the drawings. Some flower power vibes coming through here, especially with the pink.

When I got to a rose – or at least that’s what I’m thinking it is – and found I was thinking about composition too much, I decided it was time to call it a day. But it was interesting. The layered outlines below are something, though. I think this could be the way to go in future.

Triangles are fun. Not as good as hexagons, but still rather neat.

When I started working on the Super Loop on Top called Colorado, I realised I was probably going to have to create some appropriate scenery for the backdrop. Hence, deserts, rock structures and mountain peaks were the order of the day, with a splash of waves and rapids to suit the water jets on the ride… a feature I ultimately didn’t include anyway. The ensuing studies and developments were, suitably, quite a rocky bunch; as per usual, it didn’t take me long to go completely off-brief. Here are some of the diversions that were taken.

The turquoise sky piece did actually find its way into the ride, adorning the control/ticket booth. Chiefly because I like turquoise.

Really, the only reason any of the above have made it onto my blog is because I transplanted the circuitry from my previous post and started concocting a similar landscape. The result – a series of cyber mountain ranges. I rather appreciate the dystopian, Doom-esque aesthetic. For me, they’re the peak.

A change of pace from the Norfolk Broads, anyhow.

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Readers of recent posts here will hopefully get the title. For those who missed them: no need to be alarmed! I’m referring to projection of 3D textures which I covered in a post earlier this month. I’ve dialled it down, gone all minimalist and thrown in a circular gradient for a subtle slice of variety. I’m quite liking it.

Christmas is no time for restraint, so here are some alternatives; it’s the same design, just different colours. The choice for header was actually the last one made – that might seem natural and obvious, but it’s rarely the case for me, actually. With digital art and the array of enticing buttons and tools, it can sometimes have you going further than you really need to.

I hope everyone has a peaceful holiday, whether you’re celebrating or not. There’s not long to wait, now! To wrap things up, here’s a gorgeously elegant (and criminally underplayed) take on a classic Christmas song. Yes, of course it’s the Carpenters. I’m nothing if not predictable, but then, Christmas is all about familiarity. It really doesn’t get much better than this, well, not for me anyway; I bet even the Lindt Master Chocolatier wishes he knew Karen’s secret.

Merry Christmas.

abstract-pinecone-004cWell, it’s time to jolly things up a little bit. In truth, I feel a lot less dumfungled than I did at the beginning of the weekend. In fact, I feel a weight has been lifted, and now I’m even kind of looking forward to Christmas.

I could make a quip about such a boost leaving me pining for some artsy times but, honestly, these have been sitting around for a fortnight or so. I mentioned in a previous post that I wasn’t sure of how much time I’d have this month, so this was a Christmas card scramble, just so that I’d have something to deliver. As it turned out, I’ve actually had an awful lot of free time thus far (at least, as much as one can have juggling everything at this time of year) and these have been pushed into second place, with hopefully something nicer coming a bit closer to the event. Well, now you have a choice of two!

As you can hopefully gather, I attempted to abstract some pine cones. It’s simply an arrowhead shape cloned, there really isn’t much else to say about that. I did, however, have quite a play around with compositions, and even more so colour; even the glitch effect wormed its way in, as you can see above. Perhaps a bit dark and too cold, even for Crimbo, but I do rather like it nonetheless!

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I think my favourite is the five cone star, as seen above, with the extra points thrown in. This would have been the e-card of 2019, but I think what I have is a little nicer (if equally unoriginal). You’ll have to wait and see on that score. But, again, this is fun and, as Mr. Literal, it’s nice to be breaking away from that slightly and thinking design for the first time in a while.

abstract-rain-02Another tree try-out! Well, this time I endeavoured to take my previous post and bring that around to my earlier stuff. Throw some rain in, basically. I started off with a very rough sketch and then threw it under various distortion maps to ‘glitch it up’, as you can see above and below. Some of these are interesting, though I’m not sure if the sheer randomness of it all might make them a hard to manipulate, should I want to create something more precise.

abstract-rain-11Do you remember back in the days of Windows 95/98, there was a Windows desktop theme called Rainy Day? It was all murky blue-grey, as you’d expect. I think my dad was obsessed with that, as every time we got a new PC, one of the first things he’d do was switch the style to Rainy Day. That came to mind as I used very similar colours for the following developments; the tree silhouette and the background are wildly distorted, with several layers of noise attempting to look ominous, stormy, perhaps slightly hypnotic – I know I’m captivated by storms. It’s something to revisit, I’m sure.

Ice trees. Because that was the logical progression. In truth, these were supposed to be drops on glass, reminiscent of my previous post, though they do feel more Mr. Freeze to me. Still, it’s a bit weird and that’s usually interesting if nothing else.

It was a shame to hear of Marie Fredriksson’s death last week. Her voice takes me back to my university days: 2011, a mere eight years ago, though it now seems a lifetime ago in several respects. Back then, I often found myself procrastinating by means of old Top of the Pops on YouTube, and on one seemingly unexceptional episode from 1991, who should burst onto the screen? It was Roxette – just a few seconds, in a compilation package. I don’t think I even knew them before that. But damn – that hair! That voice! It was one of those great moments where you hear just a few notes and there’s a need to find out more, and then comes the excitement as you discover as much as you can. It’s the best thing about music. I got no end of stick for liking them, but couldn’t care less – Marie’s voice was worth it. Joyride is pure pop and will always be a go-to should I need a lift, but I think if I had to pick a single track it would probably be Queen of Rain, a beautiful song which very much fits the recent theme, so that’s why I decided to leave a little tribute here. Farewell to a remarkable talent.

geometric-trees-1Projection, you understand. Frontal projection of texture essentially positions it to face and fill the render region regardless of the object’s shape. This can produce some interesting results, one way or the other. I have dabbled with it sporadically in the past, but this time I ran with this tree spree and tried to get a little more out of it. I went with a radial gradient to start, with an inverted replica used for the background.

Bit much, perhaps? Mindful of its loudness, I did try and keep the landscape simple. It does look bolder with some different colours being used; I do like how crisp the blue turned out. Perhaps, if toned down slightly, there’s even potential in a Christmas card there. My thanks to Steve of Steve Kidd Art for helping me see sense on the windmill iteration.

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And another experiment – the same idea, just using pixelated noise instead of the same gradient. This time, the subject was another favourite, the silver birch tree:

geometric-trees-D01geometric-trees-D02Perhaps a case of a birch too far, but more fun nevertheless. Who couldn’t love trees?

pixeltree-3dI’ve developed a bit of a thing for this reductive/De Stijl/glitch/whatever I’m calling it today style I’ve been exploring lately, so set about doing some more, moving the focus from line and more toward shape – topiary, if you will – just throwing blocks and circles together, basically, and trying not to balls it up in the process.

I did give myself some rule and order in that I restricted myself to circles, triangles and oblongs, each of which having three proportionally sized ‘heads’. I then attacked them with texture brushes. The copses above were rather thrown together, trying to not to overthink composition. The same went for an attempt at one of my favourite trees, the weeping willow:

pixeltree-3I would say these have been the most exciting experiments of the year, but, given my rate of posting that isn’t really saying much. It’s the most fun I’ve had in a while, anyway, and I’m sure there will be more.

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Trees! Trees! Teresa Green! Or not as the case may be, sorry Tess. The above was something of a detour from my standard pixel practice; I tried to go wild with nature by creating a spooky tree with blocks of pixels, which I’d previously put together using a selection of shades. It seemed like a clever idea at the time. As you can see, it didn’t go that well, so that was something of a “one and done” exercise.

I started thinking back to old tree pieces I’d done and furthermore to artists who’d made interesting interpretations of them. Of course I found my way back to Piet Mondrian, my old GCSE Art bae. Always a joy. I went a step further with the reduction, however, sticking to my favoured black-and-white style to begin with.

pixeltree-2bThese were such fun, actually, and I like them all the more for their imperfections. I did attempt some later on using sharp lines, but they didn’t appeal nearly so much.

Branching back to my glitch stuff a couple of months back, I felt it was now time for Photoshop to take over. I drew a very rough impression of some leaves over the grid, and then pixellated it, resulting in a glitchy mess. Cue play, and we ended up with these intreeguing puppies:

And then I recoloured one to reflect autumn. Tis the season, after all, close bosom-friend of the maturing sun.

pixeltree-2fThe main take-aways from this post are: wasn’t Mondrian a legend, and; isn’t Photoshop also a legend? These are also uber-abstract for Mr. Literal over here, too, so I’m taking this as a victree one way or another.