Pattern-making: Black and White
A pattern is the simplest example of a system. It is a single form made from the ordered combination of a single part. The below exercise has been a staple in Tom Ockerse’s class for years. It appears virtually unadapted below.
Begin by designing a module as the unit (part) for a pattern (whole). The module must be square module and divided (about equally) in black and white. Keep the design simple. The beauty will emerge from what you do with it! Repeat this module into a square grid of 6×6, to create a pattern.
Create at least 8 different patterns. Vary the systems to pattern the units in that grid (keep track of the system used). For example, rotation, inversion, and flipping. Consider and try as many variables as possible.
After working with this squared grid, you may experiment with (systemic) grid shifts (offsetting verticals, horizontals, or angles), but always retaining a solid field (to avoid introducing other shapes).
Bring at least 8 final compositions to class next week selected for their diversity, dynamic interest, and comparative uniqueness. For presentations print each pattern on a sheet no larger than 8.5×11, trimming out any extra white space. On the back, note how you arrived at the pattern.
Substitute black and white parts with colors in order to create new relationships. Do not change the module or base pattern, only how parts within that field coordinate. The intention of the exercise is for you to find new ways of organizing the same material – to alter the existing relationships to reveal others. Create 8 color pieces from any of the black and white patterns from part one.
Working with either the black and white or color patterns, combine a complete pattern with another. Think of whole patterns as single parts, and your new composition as a new piece made from those parts. You may subtract one pattern from the other. You may find it is easier to work in Photoshop for this phase. Produce two pieces at whatever size you feel appropriate. Trim off excess white space.
* To create a singular whole from a series of parts
* To better grasp how system is defined and is at work everywhere