Tag Archives: overall symmetry

Escher Islamic Mosaic Change to One Continuous Line. STAGE 5.

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.

In my post of 4 April 2015, Continuous Lines in Escher Islamic Mosaic painting, STAGE 1, I mentioned that the original Islamic artist had deliberately created two Continuous Lines, when he could have just as easily created one, because he wanted to retain overall symmetry of design and border connections.

I stated that I had examined the design and worked out how to make a change to the border connections of lines to create one continuous line throughout the design, and this is how it’s done.

Here is the chart from STAGE 2 again, which shows the Main Continuous Line in Red and the Minor Continuous Line in Blue and the colours are also shown as the connections loop outside the Border.  The change has to be done without changing the Alternate Overdraw in the main design and this is done by linking a Red Overdraw with a Blue Overdraw at the same time as linking two not overdrawn lines.

Minor Continuous Line, Alternate Overdraws in Red and Blue.  Mick Burton Escher Mosaic study.

Minor Continuous Line, Alternate Overdraws in Red and Blue. Mick Burton Escher Mosaic study.

We need a crossover on the Border involving a Red loop and a Blue loop.  If we part them at that junction and re-join the Red with the Blue, and then join both not overdrawn ends as well, we have united the Main and Minor continuous lines.  See Below.

Joining of Main Red Continuous Line to Minor Blue, leaving both non Alternate Overdraw lines joined at the former junction.  Mick Burton Escher Mosaic study.

Joining of Main Red Continuous Line to Minor Blue, leaving both non Alternate Overdraw lines joined at the former junction. Mick Burton Escher Mosaic study.

To show how this change is reflected in the Border, here is a before and after “Spot the difference” comparison which I have drawn.

Change of Border on Escher Mosaic to enable one continuous line. Mick Burton study.

Change of Border on Escher Mosaic to enable one continuous line. Mick Burton study.

As you can see, the difference between having two continuous lines and one is just a couple of flicks of a pen. Obviously, the artist would have known there was a one continuous line option and that he could have done it without losing any design or colouring options.

Presumably, the artists were required to retain overall symmetry above all else, including in the Border.  Eric Broug has also informed me that continuous line drawing is very rare in Islamic geometric design. 

I think that the Artist chose two continuous lines in the Mural Mosaic to demonstrate that he was only one step from having one line, and he made sure that the Border was drawn so that this change opportunity (which occurs on each of the four sides)  was as simple as possible.  He is saying “I could easily have drawn One Continuous Line ! “

After completing my research into the Escher painting, and explaining the one continuous line alternative, I realised that I needed to draw the single continuous line myself.  Here it is.

One Continuous Line Drawing, including Border signals, based on Escher Islamic Mosaic.  Mick Burton, March 2015.

One Continuous Line Drawing, including Border signals, based on Escher Islamic Mosaic. Mick Burton, March 2015.

 
This completes my five STAGES of explaining my thoughts on Escher’s terrific painting, in 1922, of the Islamic Mural Mosaic in the Alhambra.  I hope you found this abstract continuous line it to be interesting and stimulating.

Finally, I would like to thank Margaret Graves, Assistant Professor of Islamic Art and Architecture at Indiana University, for her encouragement and guidance after I completed my research.

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