Tag Archives: border connections

Escher Islamic Mosaic Continuous Lines, Create and Change Border. STAGE 4.

A key part of the Mural Mosaic tile painting by Escher in 1922, is that he has included the Border in detail. The Border gives an indication of what happens to the lines when they hit the sides and where they feed back into the design. In the quarter section detail of the mural below you can see marks on the Border.

A line leaving the design either joins the border (so that you can follow where it goes) or goes under the border (and you can deduce where it re-emerges).  It is not easy to work all these paths out at first, but there is a logic to it.  If in doubt between two choices, one of them usually has a clear answer leaving only one option for the other.  Another aid to us is that each side of the Border is identical in the same direction around the design, so if the marks are not clear on one side you can check at a corresponding point on another side.

Detail to show Border.  Escher mural mosaic in the Alhambra.  WikiArt.  Mick Burton study.

Detail to show Border. Escher mural mosaic in the Alhambra. WikiArt. Mick Burton study.

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When I first started this research I did a basic hand copy showing all the lines hitting the sides and then showed each one as a loose end outside the square.  I then studied the border on the Mosaic to work out how all the loose ends should be joined up and charted them – this initial chart was in STAGE 1, and I show it again at the end of this post.

That was relatively easy, observing the result of what artist had done.  The hard bit is working out  from scratch which loose ends to tie up to produce continuous lines in a way which would still enable the colours to be allocated by the Alternate Overdraw (or equivalent process used by the artist).

According to Eric Broug in his demonstration video’s, the tile rectangle containing the design would be selected out of a larger pattern area.  In my own art, when I have drawn a large continuous line pattern and completed the Alternate Overdraw (so that I know the colour sequence everywhere) I can pick out a small section to display which of course already has the Alternate Overdraws.  Similarly, the Islamic artist producing the Mosaic would know the full colouring etc for the tile section.

I show below the design with all the loose ends and Alternate Overdraws in Red.  At this stage the artist would not know how many continuous lines would occur in the tile section on its own.  He will have also needed to produce a straight edge on the corners and other parts of the perimeter to block unwanted lines which encroached from the outside pattern.

Section of larger pattern with Alternate Overdraws and loose ends showing whether overdrawn.  Mick Burton study.

Section of larger pattern with Alternate Overdraws and loose ends showing whether overdrawn. Mick Burton study.

You will see from the loose ends that half of them are overdrawn in Red and half not. If you connect up pairs of the overdrawn, and pairs of the not overdrawn, loose ends then there will be continuous lines throughout the design and the Alternate Overdraw Template will be unaffected. If I connect up the not overdrawn pairs around each corner of the design, then working along the sides both overdrawn pairs and not overdrawn pairs work out consecutively. This matches the line direction message in the Border on the Mosaic design.  Here is a chart (previously in STAGE 1) showing all the loose end connections.  We know from STAGE 1 that there are two continuous lines, which makes the case strong regarding the artist using Alternate Overdraw, but it would not have mattered if there were more than two.

Escher Islamic Tile.  Basic line structure, with border connections. Mick Burton continuous line study.

Escher Islamic Tile. Basic line structure, with border connections. Mick Burton continuous line study.

Having looked at Borders in detail, that prepares us for the final STAGE 5 where I show how we can turn this into a Single Continuous Line design.  

I will also give you my opinion on what the original Artist thought about a Single Continuous Line and why I think he is definitely an Artist and not just a craftsman.

Mick Burton Continuous Line Blog.

Continuous Lines in Escher Islamic Mosaic painting, STAGE 1.

Escher painting 1922 of Islamic Mosaic tile at the Alhambra.  WikiArt.  Continuous line study by Mick Burton.

Escher painting 1922 of Islamic Mosaic tile at the Alhambra. WikiArt. Continuous line study by Mick Burton.

I look for continuous lines in all forms of art.  I first saw this design in my daughter Kate’s book “Escher, The Complete Graphic Work”, by J.L. Locher.   We are both long term admirers of this artist.  Escher did this detailed painting  in 1922 when in Granada at the Alhambra, and its quality really hit me.  It was of an Islamic mural Mosaic tile,  which was made up of those geometric lines which are often seen in Islamic art, and I assessed it for continuous lines.  

I could see that the overall symmetrical  pattern and I saw that Escher had painted the design BORDER, which seemed to indicate what happened to the lines after they hit the sides of the square.  I then worked out, from the Border Pattern, that the lines were fed back in the same routes on all four sides of the square.  From the point of view of finding a single continuous line, in my experience, such overall symmetry of the structure meant that it was very unlikely that there was only one line. 

Here is the basic structure which I arrived at, which shows the “wiring” connections indicated by the border.  Let’s see how many continuous lines there are.

Escher Islamic Tile.  Basic line structure, with border connections. Mick Burton continuous line study.

Escher Islamic Tile. Basic line structure, with border connections. Mick Burton continuous line study.

When I traced over the lines I found that there were in fact two continuous lines making up the whole design.  Here are the two results, a Main continuous line (in red) and a Minor one (blue).

Main continuous line, one of two.  Escher Islamic tile design.  Mick Burton continuous line study.

Main continuous line, one of two. Escher Islamic tile design. Mick Burton continuous line study.

Minor continuous line, 2nd of two.  Escher Islamic tile design.  Mick Burton continuous line study.
Minor continuous line, 2nd of two. Escher Islamic tile design. Mick Burton continuous line study.

 

By experimenting with border changes, a bit like swapping wiring connections, I did come up with a single continuous line, but the borders were no longer symmetrical.  It seems likely that the artist realised that two continuous lines was the best he could hope for whilst retaining overall symmetry.   In a LATER POST I will show how a border can be “tweaked” by a slight alteration to make one continuous line in the mural mosaic, and how this answer is achieved.  I will also show how the artist is likely to have worked out how to achieve two continuous lines by connecting up the correct loose ends.

I now needed to know  “How important continuous lines were, within this design, to the artist?”   It could be that Continuous Lines were incidental to other aims, or they may have been of prime importance.

In my NEXT POST I will apply my Alternate Overdraw technique to produce a Template of closed lines, which I use to decide upon the colours to allocate.   I will also suggest what the artist’s ideas were for the design and his colour selection.  In a FURTHER POST you will see how my colour allocation compares with the original colours and to what extent I feel that my ideas were the same or similar to those used by the artist.

All this has been done without any reference to the construction of the original line structure.  I have taken the completed structure as a starting point to apply my ideas.  I did not research in any detail on Islamic line construction, until after my whole study was completed.

I have recently found YouTube demonstrations by Eric Broug entitled “How to Draw a Mamluk Quran Page” and “How Grids and Patterns Work Together”, which gave me a good insight into pattern construction and include an explanation of a larger tile containing this Escher Mosaic design as a section.  This is a fascinating process used by the Islamic artists over 500 years ago.  Otherwise, I have not found any reference to borders, colouring, or specific meaning of this design.

Possibly my ideas will generate a new view on aspects of the creation of this and other Islamic designs. 

Mick Burton, Continuous Line Blog. Continue reading