Ornaments, letters, poetry…

In this section, I explore relationships between ornaments, letters and sounds, between ornamental and musical rhythm through “animated poems”.

When you draw the letters of a poem, like I did it with this beautiful poem for children written by Sándor Weöres, you can discover the ingenious arrangement of the letters from a visual point of view. It is as if you translated the sound of the rhythm into geometric forms and a ‘time-based’ language into a ‘space-based one’.

Certainly, this is not my invention, I am just modestly rediscover an idea and live it through practice. And it makes me feel connected to artists and calligrapher of the past which is a mysteriously nice feeling. To Paul Klee for instance, who must have had the same idea when creating his poem-paintings or to Muslim calligrapher and craftsmen throughout the Middle ages drawing and engraving Koranic passages on paper and wood.

It is funny to feel connected to such a distant worlds, but it is also funny to discover that Klee’s universe and those of medieval craftsmen are also so closely related to each other.

Especially that the things you discover while creating is often not intentional at all.

I am filling out the blanks between the lines and the letters. To emphasise the sameness of identical letters, I have chosen similar forms and similar colours for the same letters. It is of course not The way to do, it’s just the way I did. To make sure that the word stay readable at the end, I have chosen darker colours for the letters and lighter ones for the surrounding elements.

Lately, I like using similar colours, let’s say different shades of two or three colours close to each other such red, orange and pink… or blue and purple… Contrasts are obtained not only by the different shades but also by playing with colours’ intensity, deepness and lightness, transparency or opacity. I like playing with paint’s density and I use different kinds of paints and inks for the same picture : acrylic based inks and paints for brighter colours, water-based in and watercolours for more transparency by adding more water and while paint to give them covering and pastel-like. To obtain sensual and deep colours, sometimes I mix acrylic paint with ink of the same colour instead of water. It’s a little bit like when a chef de cuisine cooks carrots int carrot juice to make it taste even more carrot. Thanks to ink the acrylic paint will become more fluid and will spread more easily on the paper without leaving brush traces. But you can also play with traces to give the surface a dynamic texture. For even more punchy and vibrating colours, on smaller patterns, I also use felt pen. Felt pen is also quite useful when you want to colours really small details without overflowing the contours. If you alternate the use of felt pen and brush it can also result interesting effects.

Now, you need to fill out the blanks between the strophes and on the margins following some internal logic. The question is how de you want to create connections between the letters themselves and between the letters and the surrounding ornaments what will fill paper at the and. Do you imagine them as small boxes posed on on another, like in these Paul Klee paintings ? Or as a landscape ? Or maybe like map or a labyrinth ?

In this poem ornament, first, I just drew some patterns more or less accidentally. Then, I thought to emphasise the sound connections and the poem’s rhythm by linking letter to each other as it there were paths between them or as if patterns were little machines resembling to small automatised hands placing the letters so specific places.

In this creative game, you discover relationships, connections between sounds, you may better understand the whole structure of the poet and you create a wholly new interpretation of it by linking audible rhythm to visible rhythm.

In a way the whole creative process is about discovery and game. And you have so many tools to create.

Some of them you probably haven’t event thought about such as video editing tools. You don’t need to be an editing professional to use them, and you can create animations of your drawings in a quite simple way.

It is long and you need some patience but I guarantee that it’s worth it.

What you see here I’m doing is clearing my drawing patterns by pattern. It is also a work of composing but in an opposite way: I am destroying my work but in a structured and organised way. It is fun to do it. It is an other common point in creating and playing. If you recall those moment from your childhood when you were playing with constructing games our building sand-castles on the beach, you may remember that destroying it was as satisfactory as building it. Or, it might have been destroyed by an other child, anyways it was a satisfying act for someone and you may have asked yourself : why did he do that. Well, here is the reason : destroying is an integral part of creating. Not necessarily to get rid of your anger, but for the joy of reconstructing and to live through this reassuring cyclic rhythm of creation and destruction : the rebirth of things, the idea that you have the power to make things live again.

Once you’ve completely wiped out your drawing, you can enjoy this reconstructing process through editing it into an animated calligraphy.

“If the world was a thrush,
it would sing in my pinafore
it would whistle nicely nigh and day
if the world was a thrush.

But if the world was a thrush,
my pinafore could not hold it
and how could I have a pinafore
it the world was a thrush.”
(Weöres Sándor)

But wiping your drawing out is not exclusively an act of destruction. While you’re doing so, partly, you follow the inner structure of the ornaments, but you also create a new one. You rethink how it was created, you rediscover its logic and you also overwrite on it a different one.

I used to think a lot about the relationship between drawing our patterns outlines and colours in ornaments through drawing them. In some ornaments, colours are subordinated to the drawing. What I mean is that colours follow respectfully the logic created by the lines. They may accentuate them, put an emphasis on them, but they don’t come to disturb the rhythm created by the lines. In a second type of ornaments, colours still respect the logic of the drawing, but they also introduce a new rhythm overlaying on the one created by the lines which is diversifying or cutting off the original rhythm to smaller entities.

In a third type of coloured ornaments colours come to “destroy” or rather to reinterpret the original rhythm of the lines.

In these animated ornaments, animation has a similar role : it can add a new rhythm to the drawing and the colours. In this calligraphy in motion, the added value by the animation is like colours’ role in the second type of coloured ornaments. I wipe out lines at different places and create an additional vibrating movement in the pattern which still respects the logic of the original drawing :

“Ascend into the light to understand others and go down into it to understand yourself” (Adonis)

Animation here is designed as part of creating ornaments but also as a tool of thinking. And all image is a reflection about the nature of the image itself. The funny thing is about our perception of artworks today thanks to new ways of diffusion such as artist’s videos is that viewer are also initiated to the secrets of this reflection through the creative process. The videos use very often as advertising tools are in fact much more than that : they have completely changes our perception of artworks and from now on the creative process is integral part of the work of art we see which ceased to be a mere result.

You won’t need to use the editing program in a too complicated way. In fact, the animation consists only of images put after one another and between them, I simply applied a gradual transition.

I’m really not an expert in video editing event thought I’ve already created a few animations using quite always quite simple editing tools such as moving thing back and forth, resizing, repositioning, distorting… You can watch them also on this channel.

One of them, The Walk which tells the story of a little footprint looking for his pair in an ornamental universe and meets different ornamented creatures before finding only contains images which were photographed manually from the beginning to the end. I took the camera, placed above a large ornamented paper on a camera stand that and moved the divers visual elements step by step on this background.

What I am trying to say is that the fact of not being an expert in something should not stop you to try it out.

What is fascinating in artistic creation is that boundaries are exactly what you need to create original things. Boundaries are inspiration and motivation as they are those that you have to fight in order to create but at the same time, they also orientate you work and you have to accept thee, to live with them. You have different types of boundaries or limits such as material ones that can make you inventive and creative. I think that the whole history of art could be told as a story of boundaries personal or collective ones. But let me give you just some sticking examples.

Matisse when he created his paper cuts was physically limited in his movements, Monet when he painted his water lilies resembling colour patches was loosing his vision. Artists work together with a series of physical limitation for different reasons : financial ones for instance obliging them to replace expensive and noble materials by ordinary ones. Many artworks and art-crafts are created of found objects and reused materials long before that it has become a kind of recommendation and a tendency for ecological reasons.

But artists have also social restrictions such as censure. In medieval times for instance, Muslim artists elaborated a miniaturist style with thousands of tiny details that they displayed in manuscripts as if books were exhibition halls. They were obliged to do so because certain kinds of images they painted were not welcome in public space.

Sometimes lack of technical skills can also become a source of novelty in art. This was the case of Victor Ugo for instance, less known for his artworks than for his novels and poems. Art Brut’s and Art Naif’s particular style is also often due to artists’ lack of experience and technical skills in painting.

It doesn’t mean that you should not learn and practice, on the contrary, but keep in mind that you have always alternative ways to use a creative tool and that obstacles and limitations are necessary to create.

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