Monday, 27 February 2012

Theory of Stencils

Theory of Stencils, version 1
I have been playing with stencils to see what complex structures can be made with simple stencils. This image (above) is the most satisfying to date.

Let me explain how it was built. The image is built with four stencils used in all different combinations. It is coloured with 16 shades of gray from near-black to near-white.

The four stencils used are as follows. The card is brown and the gaps are white, so stencilling will place paint on the page where there is white on the stencil.

The image called Theory of Stencils is obtained by taking these four stencils in all possible combinations and stencilling through with a new colour (a shade of grey, in this case).

If we stencil instead with just two colours (this time, red and blue) but are systematic in our choice, we obtain this interesting effect, which for me is less satisfying (apart from its elegant mathematical derivation).

I was working with these stencils at the time I went to the Mondrian Nicholson exhibition at the Coutauld (a week ago, see by review). This inspired me to recreate a couple of Nicholson's images using stencil. I published my version of "White Relief" in my previous post (done with just two stencils, but stuttered). Here, as an exercise in applying the method again, is my version of his "Painting (Version I)" (check title).

stencil, after Ben Nicholson
Clearly, I could have done the Mondrians, published earlier, in this way. I may yet do that.