13. Implied Motion


Building on last week’s assignment we’ll continue to focus on creating the illusions by manipulating hue and value patterns. However, instead of trying to create just the illusion of space, we’ll be focusing on creating the illusion of motion.


While our previous assignment focused heavily on similarly valued hues, this week our assignment will depend greatly upon high contrast to make the implied motion effect happen. We will still be thinking about hue – this is not a black and white or greyscale assignment – but it’s really important to have extreme value changes to make this particular optical effect happen.

For example, here are a few black and white samples that can hopefully give you a visual idea of where we will be heading:

Looking at the samples above, please imagine how you can use hues – some higher in value and some lower in value – to create similar optical effects.

One of my favorite artists to look to in this field is Bridget Riley.  (Link to her profile on the Tate Modern website. Please disregard – as wonderful as it is – the “Nataraja” piece. It’s off topic for this discussion. The rest of the examples of her work on the Tate website are relevant though.)

This project is quite complex since I’m asking you to now incorporate what you learned in the last lesson with “vibrating color” and pair it with high contrast changes, rather than more equal value relationships, to come up with a sense of motion in your piece. That likely sounds confusing, but here is a sample of Riley’s work that shows the concept well:

The image above would have a great deal of implied motion in just greyscale, but adding what we now know about color pairings, having a complementary color harmony added to the design elevates the concept to a significantly higher level.

Here is another example of Riley’s work that is uses a much more subtle color palette, but if you look closely you can hopefully see there are very astute, nuanced color relationships happening:


Finally, just like last week, I wanted to give you some concrete designs to start with as your inspiration for this project. This particular set is from Pinterest at https://www.pinterest.com/pin/634233560003224687/:

  1. Please spend some time looking at Bridget Riley’s work online to get a sense of what the possibilities are. She is not the only artist to work in this manner, but being born in 1933 and not having the digital advantages that we have today, her work is really quite impressive. Also, her work is large scale (note the photos of her standing next to her paintings) and all hand done, which adds another impressive aspect to her pieces – which are quite painterly in person. (On the web they can look a bit flat.)
  2. In your sketchbook, experiment with different ideas for this piece.
  3. Sketch out your design on your 18″ x 24″ paper.
  4. Please post a photo your results in the comments section of the correlating post.


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