Tag Archives: Africa

Twisting, Overlapping, Envelope Elephant. Continuous Line Drawing colouring.

“Fluorescephant”, the original version of “Elephant Grass” which is at the top of this continuous line blog, was my first successful Colour Sequence painting.  The sequence ran from yellow through greens to blues in steps of colour and tones which gave a natural three dimensional effect and dynamism.  Part of this was the overlapping nature of continuous lines which was reflected by the successive darker colouring.

The painting was accepted for the International Amateur Artist exhibition, in Warwick Square London, in February 1973 and then a month later in the National Society annual open exhibition in the Mall Galleries.

Fluorescephant.  Continuous line drawing with colour sequence.  National Society Open Exhibition, Mall Gallery, London, 1973.  Mick Burton.

Fluorescephant. Continuous line drawing with colour sequence. National Society Open Exhibition, Mall Gallery, London, 1973. Mick Burton.

I was never totally happy with the colouring.  I thought that there was an extra natural effect, on top of the overlapping, which I was missing.  When I started my art again in 2012, after a gap of nearly 40 years, I once more tried to sort this out.  I realised that I could enhance the twisting of the design and highlight gaps where the outside would show through.

Here is the result, “Twisting, Overlapping, Envelope Elephant”.  Imagine that the continuous lines are describing a sheet of plastic, which is coloured Blue on the front and Red on the back.  Each time a twist occurs, against the outside background, then I colour it Red.  When the overlaps build up, the shades of the blue front go darker blue, and the shades of the twisted areas become darker red.  Where the blue front and the red back occasionally overlap, then I use violet to reflect the mix.

This continuous line drawing is coloured to represent a

This continuous line drawing is coloured to represent a “Twisting, Overlapping, Envelope Elephant”, which is Blue on one side and Red on the other. Mick Burton, 2013.

You can see considerable areas of background colour within the animal showing through. This looks natural within the form of the elephant.

The blue areas, including darker blue overlaps, are the same as the blue areas in the “Fluorescephant”, so it is good to keep a large part of the original colour sequence in this change of style.

Rhinoceros and Ostrich continuous line drawings

Rhinoceros, continuous line drawing with colour sequence.  Based on Mick Burton demonstration.

Rhinoceros, single continuous line drawing with colour sequence. Based on Mick Burton demonstration.

I did a demonstration and workshop at Horsforth Arts Society, in Leeds, in January 2015.  It was a freezing evening and I parked outside in a narrow back street.  This club is an end terrace house, extended into the next house I think, and they have sole use.  No one had arrived, but I was encouraged by a notice in the window “Demonstration of Continuous Line Drawing by Mick Burton at 7.30pm”.  Shirley, who arranged demonstrations, arrived but could not unlock the door.  I managed to open it.

So we were in and I could cart all my kit and pictures up the stairs and decide on my set up.  Joan came with me to help and the room soon filled up with friendly, expectant, members.  Shirley had seen me demonstrate at another club and gave an encouraging introduction.

After showing several pictures of my animals, mentioning a bit about my past and going through the basics of how to do a continuous line animal, it was time to do my first drawing before the members had a go themselves.

Firstly I put my key marks on a sketched Rhinoceros, showed how to join up the marks in the main areas such as the head and legs and asked the members to start on their own subjects whilst I connected up more lines.  I completed a rough and ready version of the Rhino, which a few weeks later I spruced up and added colours as above.  It is in the Harrogate and Nidderdale Art Club spring exhibition this weekend.

The members of the club completed pictures of animals or people with lines, but with a great variety of styles.  I did not insist on complete continuous lines, as the main idea was that their drawings could flow, and many good results emerged.  Several coloured in their creations.

Whilst they continued with their pictures, or started new ones, in the second half I started an Ostrich.  I did the head and neck and put some key marks elsewhere and invited members to come up and have a go at parts of the ostrich with my thick marker pen.  Several did and we arrived at the result below.  It has about three different lines going and a few dead ends.  This is fine at an early stage of my continuous line drawings, before loose ends are then connected up and one continuous line arrived at along with modifications to pattern and smoothing.

Ostrich continuous line, demonstration drawing by Mick Burton, with the assistance of members of Horsforth Arts Society.  January 2015.

Ostrich single continuous line drawing, demonstration by Mick Burton, with the assistance of members of Horsforth Arts Society. January 2015.

I thanked them for their help and in later weeks produced the picture “Ostrich Egg” below.  It has two continuous lines, one of which is the coloured Egg.

Ostrich Egg, continuous lines.  Based on Mick Burton demonstration.

Ostrich Egg, single continuous line drawing. Based on Mick Burton demonstration at Horsforth Arts Society.

A black pen version of the Ostrich is currently in the Association of Animal Artists annual exhibition.

I quite like including eggs in pictures.  “Harriet’s Busy Day”, which now resides in Worcestershire, was a finalist in Britain’s Got Artists in July 2012.

Harriet's Busy day.  Continuous line with colour sequence.  Background based on eggs.  Mick Burton, 2012.

Harriet’s Busy day. Single continuous line drawing with colour sequence. Background based on eggs. Mick Burton, continuous line artist 2012.

 When I showed the Hen picture to my sister Wendy she said  “Why have you stuck all those eggs to the ceiling”.

Why “Continuous Line” ? What is the point of it ?

You may ask why I am so bothered about the line being “Continuous”.  Well here we go –    Skelldale. Continuous  line drawing.

The Continuous Line gives the drawing an enclosed flexible structure, or environment, which in turn means that all parts are related to some degree.  If I modify sections of a drawing there can be ramifications elsewhere, which may be small or extensive.  “Skelldale” was one of my earliest continuous line drawings.

When I compose a drawing I have to bear in mind that the line must return to the start point.  This is a lot of fun when I do an abstract, but for a figurative drawing it is more difficult as I am aware that the drawing will constantly change.  However, I have learned that this difficulty can help to trigger the creative force that often lies within the drawing.

This discipline of having to make choices on the route of the line, or modifying the route, can produce an extra structural effect or dynamic of movement which I may not have foreseen.  This creation of a result beyond my intention is similar to what happens in nature, where the practical necessity of combining all the elements needed in an animal or a plant often evolve into a tremendous design.

        Lizard. Continuous line with colour sequence. Mick Burton, 1971

A further result of the Continuous Line is its creative effect on colours applied.  I worked out a method of applying colour sequences which can further enhance the natural structure and dynamic effect.  A colour only occurring once can be in a key area, eg. the eye of the Iguana.  I used a special repeat pattern for the scale effect.




Flame on the Sun. Spherical continuous line. Mick Burton, 1972My “spherical” drawings, where the line goes out of one side of the page and in at the opposite side, also produce a special arrangement of colours which can apply to a sphere.  The “Flame on the Sun” has coloured areas which match if the picture has its sides pulled around to meet in a cylinder.  However, there is no such match top to bottom, where a “bunching” effect would form the “poles” to complete a sphere. 

Africa. Four colour map theorem. Continuous line. Mick Burton, 1974.

My knowledge of Continuous Lines also lead to my creating them within natural structures when I researched the Four Colour Map Theorem 40 years ago.  This single line along boundaries of the countries of Africa (from my 1950’s school atlas), goes through every boundary junction once only.  I could connect up the two loose ends to make it “Continuous” !  You can use two alternate colours for countries inside the line and another two alternate colours for countries (and the sea) outside the line and you have your Four colours.  Proving that you only need four colours for any map is a different matter !

 So there we are, my fascination with my lines continues.  I will cover all these types of line further subsequently.