Tag Archives: acrylic

The Secret Art Project in St Gemma’s 2018 Art Festival

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“Loch Knares Monster” submitted to St Gemma’s 2018 Secret Art Project by Mick Burton, Continuous Line Artist.

As the open session for bidding on e-bay for the A5 size card paintings and drawings submitted to the St Gemma’s Secret Art Project has now closed, I am free to say which two pictures were submitted by me.  Of course, they are not single continuous lines.

The first one, above, is called “Loch Knares Monster”.  I used coloured pencils to produce delicate shades in the water and sky in contrast to the acrylic pen outline on the Serpent.

I have always been interested in the Loch Ness Monster, so what is wrong with turning the famous railway bridge in Knaresborough into a giant serpent.  My first attempt at the monster, years ago, was to add one to a mural of Venice which had been painted all over the bathroom wall of a house I shared with several others in Leeds in the late 1960’s.

Also an artist friend of mine, Bryn Glover, constructed a sculpture of “Nessie” from a motor cycle chain in 1969.  He worked at Leeds General Infirmary and once used a huge pair of forceps in a sculpture of a pelican.

There had to be a train in it, particularly a steam train, but I did not feel that my favourite engine “Mallard” would be appropriate.  See photograph below of Mallard crossing the Knaresborough bridge.

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“Mallard on Knaresborough Viaduct” in 1987. Photograph by Jo Turner (https://www.geograph.org.uk/profile/14389).

One day in the mid 1950’s, when I was on holiday staying with relatives, my cousin John Simmister and myself wandered into the railway sidings in Peterborough.  We saw Mallard, all be itself and so dirty that you could hardly tell that it was green. We climbed into the cab and talked about what it would be like to travel at 126 miles an hour and break the world steam record.

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“Mange 2 – Rail Root North” submitted to St Gemma’s 2018 Secret Art Project by Mick Burton, Continuous Line Artist.

“Mange 2 – Rail Root North” was coloured in acrylic and in a style which I hoped would be very different to my Knaresborough picture.

The HS2 railway project from London to Leeds and Manchester has been dragging on for years and I thought that I would compare that train to a streamlined pea pod.  My wife Joan comes from Wakefield, which is Rhubarb Triangle country, and as she is a vegetarian I thought she may appreciate the “jokes”.

Here is a clipping from this month’s Yorkshire Reporter, showing that HS2 is still big news.

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Yorkshire Reporter, November 2018, showing plans for Leeds Railway Station as part of the HS2 project.

Therasa May is one of the celebrities (including John Bishop and Kaiser Chiefs) who have agreed to submit a picture to the Secret Art Project, but there is probably no danger that people will think that she painted Mange 2.


Haken’s Gordian Knot and the Twisting, Overlapping, Envelope Elephant.

I constantly look for Continuous Lines in many fields of art, history, mathematics – anywhere, as I just do not know where they are going to crop up.  Currently I am casting an eye on Islamic Art and Celtic art and am developing ideas on those.

Recently I glanced through a book called “Professor Stewart’s Cabinet of Mathematical Curiosities” and came across Haken’s Gordian Knot, a really complicated looking knot which is really an unknot in disguise – a simple circle of string (ends glued together) making a closed line. Here it is.

Haken's Gordian Knot, from Ian Agol. A simple circle of string (an Unknot) formed into a complicated continuous line.

Haken’s Gordian Knot, from Ian Agol. A simple circle of string (an Unknot) formed into a complicated continuous line.

When I looked at the Knot, it reminded me of my “Twisting, Overlapping, Envelope Elephant” continuous line in that it has a lot of twists. I realised straight away that a narrow loop on the outside (left lower) seemed to lead into the structure with its two strands twisting as it went, each time in a clockwise direction.  I followed the two twisting lines throughout the drawing until they ended in a loop on the outside (left higher).

I wanted to draw and paint this knot. My first drawing was of the line on its own. The depth of some of the lines reminded me of one of my earliest paintings “Leeds Inner Ring Road Starts Here”, which was based upon a sign board which appeared near Miles Bookshop in 1967 informing us of the route the new road would carve through the City. This was several years before Spagetti Junction was built near Birmingham. My picture had lines swirling all over at various heights in one continuous line.

Leeds Inner Ring Road Starts Here. Use of varying thickness of continuous line, overs and unders. Pre dates Spagetty Junction near Birmingham. Mick Burton, 1967.

Leeds Inner Ring Road Starts Here. Use of varying thickness of single continuous line drawing, overs and unders. Pre dates Spagetty Junction near Birmingham. Mick Burton, 1967.

My first picture of the Gordian Knot, in black and white, concentrated on the heights of the lines following the overs and unders shown by Haken.

Depth of lines in black and white, in Haken's Gordian Knot. Mick Burton, continuous line drawing.

Depth of lines in black and white, in Haken’s Gordian Knot. Mick Burton, single continuous line drawing.

But my main aim now was to use blue and red to show the twisting nature of the pair of lines running between the starting loop and the end loop.  This was intended to allow the viewer to more easily follow the loop and the twists throughout the structure.

Twisting, overlapping colouring of Haken's Gordian Knot. Mick Burton continuous line.

Twisting, overlapping colouring of Haken’s Gordian Knot. Mick Burton single continuous line drawing.

Just like viewing my “Twisting, Overlapping, Envelope Elephant”, from my previous post, imagine that you have a strip of plastic which is blue on the front and when you twist it over it is painted red on the back.  Where blues cross each other you have darker blues, and correspondingly with reds.  Where blue crosses red you have violet.  I show the strips feeding through each other, like ghosts through a wall.  There are some darks and lights in there as well.  Most usefully, the background shines through to help make the strips stand out.

You can now get more of a feel for what is going on.  I counted 35 clockwise twists and two anti-clockwise (numbers 19 and 26).  Continued twists in the same direction tie in the ongoing loop, when it feeds through the two strands of its earlier route at least 12 times.  

This is a preparatory painting, in acrylic but on two sheets of copy paper sellotaped together.  When I exhibit these pictures they will be hung as portrait, rather than the landscape shown here for comparison with Haken (as you will note from where my signature is).  I think they look a bit like the head of the Queen in portrait mode !

Having got this far, I realised that I should find out more about the Haken knot (or unknot), beyond Professor Stewart’s brief introduction.  How did Haken construct the knot and why?

Please see my next post, on this continuous line blog, to see how I got on.