Student’s work from the short course in Islamic geometric design held at
Morley College today and last Sunday.
I know that it has been a while since I last updated the blog, but I have been super-busy over these past couple of weeks. Last week was the start of term at the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts, where I have just re-joined the school as a part-time PhD student (I also completed my Master’s degree there). It was great to see my old teachers again, meet the new students, and generally get back into the rhythm of student life. However, this time around I need to juggle my studies with teaching and illustration work – not a bad combination, actually, and so far, so good! I really do love all three of these activities, and somehow each one is complimentary to the other.
Students from Abu Dhabi using a restrained colour palette.
With that in mind, this post is going to be about my teaching. I spent today and last Sunday delivering a short course in geometric design at Morley College in London. We started the session last week by constructing 6, 8, and 12-fold geometric patterns, commonly seen throughout Islamic art and architecture. Afterwards, I asked the students to paint their own tonal scale – made by diluting yellow ochre watercolour. This created a range of different shades of the same colour. Each student then picked three tones from their tonal scale to complete a small geometric painting. The objective of this exercise was to show the students how much variety they could achieve by simply using one colour. In completing this exercise, I often find that later on in the class, when students are introduced to a whole rainbow of colours, they’re generally able to make a more informed choice about the shades that they select. The photograph above shows students from Abu Dhabi completing a similar exercise.
Work in progress from today’s class – the coloured spots on the right of the picture show where the student has tested various shades of fuchsia, orange and yellow to imitate the colour harmonies from her photograph. On the left of the picture, you can see how she’s selected two of the colours to apply to her geometric painting.
At the end of last week’s session, I asked the students to bring in their own personal photographic examples showing colour harmonies in nature. I told them that these could be images of plants, trees, flowers, landscapes, seascapes, shells, animal markings, sunrises, sunsets… in fact, anything from the natural world! Nature has an incredible way of creating the most exquisite colour combinations, which are always beautiful. I think that we can learn a lot from this. We started the class with a “show and tell” session, where everyone talked a little about the images they had chosen. The students then each picked one of their photographs to use as inspiration for their geometric paintings. Each person created their own personal colour palette, based upon their photograph. They then selected 3-4 colours from their palette to translate into a geometric painting. Not everybody finished their paintings by the end of the session, but everyone achieved an impressive result. You can enjoy the fruits of their labour below. Enjoy!
Student’s work at the end of the course. These are unfinished, but the students intend to complete their paintings at home.The most popular themes for colour inspiration included flowers and landscapes, seascapes and sunsets.