Tag Archives: colour allocation

Hot Cross Bunny and the psychology of colour

IMG_3425 Hot Cross Bunny

“Hot Cross Bunny”, single continuous line drawing painted in psychological colours. Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

In my posts I have said a lot about colour sequence and, along the way, talked about selecting appropriate ranges of colours for my drawings.  Here are some more colour comments, leading to the one about the bunny above.

I might consider that a yellow, red and brown range would be good for my horse. These have a similarity to its actual colours and give a warm and friendly feel which reflect the horse’s nature and temperament.

Fig 1.  Copy of IMG_5869 Horse complete, furst sequ

Colour Sequence on Single Continuous Line Drawing of horse. Mick Burton, Continuous Line Blog.

A strong harsh colour seemed to be best for my roaring lion and simple black and white achieved this.  In the mid 1960’s when I drew the lion, Bridget Riley had been doing many black and white hard edge pictures, and I did several of my animals in this colouring.  I feel that this worked best for the lion amongst my drawings.

016. 1967-9. Lion. Alternate shading, black.

Lion, single continuous line drawing with alternate shading in black and white. Mick Burton, continuous line Artist.

With my “Flame on the Sun” painting, the sort of anti magnetism represented by complementary red and green hopefully reflect the explosive violence required.

Flame on the Sun. Spherical continuous line. Mick Burton, 1972

Flame on the Sun. Spherical single continuous line drawing, with complementary reds and greens expressing explosive violence.  Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

For a more subtle result – my still life of a radish, apple, mushroom and flower heads – I used water colours to help to show the floppy translucent nature of the radish leaves.


Radish, apple, mushroom and flower heads still life. Water colour used to show floppy, translucent nature of radish leaves. Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

Sometimes I find that I can use almost actual colours.  Here is a commission drawing, with the continuous line running through both robins and the branch.  I  was asked to do only a hint of pink on the Robins’ chests.  This is fine.  However, I had to have a go at a full colour result for myself.  The perky nature of robins is reflected pretty well, I think, by these “near” natural colours.

IMG_3417 (1) Best. Pair of Robins.

Pair of Robins, single continuous line drawing. Full near natural colour. Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

My yellow, green and blue sequence of colours fits well for “Nibbles”, a friendly rabbit who likes nothing more than eating her greens.

IMG_3498 Nibbles

“Nibbles”, single continuous line drawing.  The rabbit has a suitable range of colours to reflect contentment just eating her greens. Mick Burton, continuous line artist.

However, for a rabbit drawn with exactly the same single continuous line as for Nibbles, but who has a completely different temperament  –  RED, BLACK and WHITE fits the bill.

This is, of course, “Hot Cross Bunny” who lurks at the top of this post.  A real, full on, “Psycho”.

The two Rabbit paintings and the Pair of Robins accompanied several other of my pictures at the Harrogate and Nidderdale Art Club exhibition a week ago at Ripley Town Hall.

At the Preview Evening various prizes are awarded.  One was the annual prize presented at the Spring Exhibition by Sir Thomas Ingleby, the club’s patron, for his own personal choice for the best picture on show.  This was won by Julie Buckley for her “Black Labrador”.  

Sir Thomas also mentioned other pictures which caught his eye.  He said that he liked all the paintings by Mick Burton, but never thought that he would ever consider buying one called “Hot Cross Bunny”.

Here is a bit of background to the Rabbit paintings.  Nibbles and Hot Cross Bunny are based upon my daughter Kate’s rabbits, Harriet and Clover.

Harriet was friendly and cuddly and Clover might have been better named “Cleaver”.  We kept them both in the garage – in separate cages.

When we bought Clover, a lop eared rabbit, the breeder was saying how friendly and harmless the baby rabbit was.  I asked if it was related to an adult lop eared which had just tried to bite my finger off and the answer was “Yes, it’s the granny”.  We still bought Clover!

She was alright at first but later became very aggressive.  Every time we opened her cage for any reason, she would bite viciously.  We also realised that some one else would have to take care of the rabbits when we were on holiday.

Strangely, I found that if I put a hand on Clover’s head as soon as I opened the door she would stay still and relaxed as long as I kept the hand there.  With the other hand I could top up food and water or clean out the cage.  This worked for all of us.  Fortunately, our neighbour was delighted to be able to do this too and things were fine when we were away.

After Clover died and I had buried her in the garden, Kate prepared a wooden plaque and nailed it to the fence “Here lies Clover Burton the rabbit”.

An interesting consequence of keeping the rabbits was that straw from the bale became piled on the floor of the garage.  One day the straw was seen to be moving and we feared that we had rats and so I was deputed to check it out.  I found a nest of baby hedgehogs.






“Vortex” by David Kilpatrick. Single Continuous Line and Alternate Overdraw colouring.

Vortex, David Kilpatrick. flat,1000x1000,075,f.u1

“Vortex” by David Kilpatrick, artist from Atherton, Australia.   Single Continuous Line using the Alternate Overdraw method to allocate colours.   March 2017.   Mick Burton blog.

I have been exchanging ideas with David Kilpatrick recently and he has agreed to let me put some of his pictures in my blog.  “Vortex” stands out to me, as I have been a fan of Vorticism for many years.  He has used Alternate Overdraw to allocate colours in sequence and it has worked well.

David’s design gives the impression of a sheet of plastic, coloured green on one side and red on the other, and each twist showing the other side.  With overlaps you get darker greens or darker reds.  Four internal areas let the background shine through.  The whole thing is very natural, including David’s own style of patchy colour radiating outwards.

Next is David’s “Knight’s Tour” which he is still working on.

David Kilpatrick knights tour. image011

“Knights Tour” by David Kilpatrick, artist from Atherton, Australia.   Single Continuous Line based upon moves of a knight and using Alternate Overdraw to allocate colour sequence.   April 2017.  Mick Burton blog.

I did a Single Continuous Line “Knight’s Moves on a Chessboard” in 1973 (see Gallery 1965-74) with the intention of colouring it, but never tackled it properly.  One of the problems was the number of fiddly small areas.  It led to my “Knight’s Tour Fragments” instead (see my previous post on 16.2.2017).

But now we have GIMP!  David said that he used this to move the lines about on his “Knight’s Tour”.  I googled GIMP and it means “GNU Image Manipulation Program”.  Some areas are still fairly small but he has produced a vibrant structure.

David says that these are trial colours (I presume from GIMP) and he intends to work out an improved scale of colours in his own style.

However, the colours shown already demonstrate the natural balance inherent in the Alternate Overdraw colour allocation.  The composition suggests to me an island with yellow “beaches” as well as reds within opposite “volcanic” zones.

There is a choice regarding background, which would naturally be the same colour as the light blue internal areas and result in a surrounding “sea”, or it could be left white as shown above.

I look forward to seeing the final version, which I am sure will be another splendid example of Vorticism.

Another picture that caught my eye was his “The Pram” which is based on a magic rectangle.

“The Pram” by artist David Kilpatrick, from Atherton, Australia.   Based on a Magic Rectangle. 2015.    Mick Burton blog.

This pram picture has lots of line ends in it and makes me want to attempt one myself using a Continuous Line animal.  Such a design would make you want to connect up so many loose ends.  My Spherical pictures already do this to an extent, as I take a line out of the picture at one side and bring it back in at the corresponding opposite side.

I think that David chose the positions of the displaced squares in a sort of random way.  Maybe I would want to be confident that I could move them around, in the way you could on the movable squares game of my childhood, and get back to the actual original picture.

You can see much more of the art of David Kilpatrick on


Colour Sequence Allocation on Escher Islamic Mosaic Continuous Lines, STAGE 3.

Now that we have applied my Alternate Overdraw to the Continuous Lines in the Escher Islamic design, I can show how I allocate colours.  We can then compare the result with the colours on the original Islamic design painted by Escher in 1922.

My basic method of allocating colours is covered in my Post on 27 September 2014 entitled “Colour Sequence on Continuous Line Drawing”.

I will start with that same basic process where colour “0” is the outside of the drawing and this is alternated with “1” in its channel or channels.  When we cross through an overdraw from a “1” area we allocate “2” to this adjacent area on the other side and then alternate this with “3” (if there are any) in that channel.  In the negative direction, if we go from a “0” area through an overdraw we will allocate “(-)1” and alternate with “(-)2” in that channel.

Five colour number allocation on continuous lines for Escher Mosaic.  Mick Burton study.

Five colour number allocation on continuous lines for Escher Mosaic. Mick Burton study.

There are no areas coloured “3” and so we have 5 colours allocated, compared to only 4 colours used in the original Mosaic.

At this stage things did not look promising.  Trying to equate the 4 original colours in the Mosaic to my 5 numbers produced a best set of matches of 156 out of 313 (I won’t go into much detail here) which is just under 50%.

One thing that I did observe was that YELLOW matched “1” on 76 occasions and “(-)1” on 88 occasions.  This reminded me that I occasionally allocate colours positively by ignoring (-) signs.  When switched to simply using “0”, “1” and “2” I had 3 numbers to compare with the 4 original colours on the mosaic.  This now produced a best match of 241 colours out of 313 which gives 77% and was much more respectable.  Here is the 3 colour allocation.

Colour sequence allocation of 3 colours to continuous lines on Escher Mosaic.  Mick Burton study.

Colour sequence allocation of 3 colours to continuous lines on Escher Mosaic. Mick Burton study.

Of course the fourth colour GREEN used in the mosaic does not appear at all in mine.

As with a lot of art, including craft, there may be processes (or even rules) which get you a long way in a design but you have to know when, and how, to break away from them.  I may be a bit rigid with my Continuous Lines but my studies of Picasso and Dali doing them demonstrates that nothing is certain.

This Islamic artist, who I regard as very special, probably used a method equivalent to mine to allocate most of his colours but probably made the following over riding decisions to finish the colouring off –

a.   GREEN was allocated to the 8 areas surrounding each of the 8 planets, and nowhere else.

b.  Each of the 8 planets was coloured PURPLE, instead of black, to mirror its use for the centres of the Suns.

c.  Each Purple junction block at the middle of each side has three directional areas surrounding it which are coloured PURPLE instead of black.  I originally considered these to be decorative.

Allocation of all green colours and changes of black to purple on Escher Mosaic.  Mick Burton study.

Allocation of all green colours and changes of black to purple on Escher Mosaic. Mick Burton study.

If the above decisions were made first, then the remaining allocations would be made totally on my 3 colour allocation.  That is 229 areas remaining where my allocation matches 100% with the original Escher Mosaic colours.

229 colour sequence areas matching original Escher Mosaic colouring.  Mick Burton study.

229 colour sequence areas matching original Escher Mosaic colouring. Mick Burton study.

So there we are. I hope you have found my attempt to explain how this Escher Islamic Mosaic contains two continuous lines, which I believe was deliberate by the artist, and how most colours matched a colour sequence directly linked to the continuous lines.

The basic elements in the design largely match the template produced by my Alternate Overdraw method and, after specific allocation decisions were made by the artist, there was a total match of all other colours allocated by my method using the template.  Whether of not the artist used a similar method to myself, there is a direct link between the colour sequence and the two continuous lines.

In my searches through other forms of art, on the look out for continuous lines, I have not found any other example of art which contained both continuous lines and a related colour sequence, or signs of possible use of Alternate Overdraw with its Template.

There is a modern mathematical theory called “The Winding Number Theory” which could allocate colours in an equivalent way to my initial 5 colours, but it is not as much fun.

I will do a FURTHER POST (STAGE 4) on how the artist could have used Alternate Overdraw to help him to connect up the loose ends on the borders when actually constructing his continuous lines.

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