Patterns and their uses

Kleophrades Painter ARV 189 78bis mission to Achilles.jpg
Wherever there is a repeating shape or line (motif) a pattern appears. Patterns appear in every area of visual culture whether it be textiles, architecture, printmaking; It appears in the very fabric of materials and the walls of buildings.

Task 1

You will need: Paper a pencil, colored pencils if you have them. A piece of patterned fabric, another object.

Find a piece of patterned fabric. This could be an item of clothing or a cloth or quilt maybe. and drape it over an object you can fit comfortably on a table or desk. Try to draw what you see, capturing the pattern as it is distorted over the folds and creases of the fabric.

Things to consider with patterns

  • The design could have a border around the edge.
  • What colours will you use?
  • Will your pattern use a ‘motif’ that is a graphic interpretation of a concept. For example, you could have a floral motif repeated over the pattern.
  • Will you use an optical effect composed of geometric shapes?
  • Think about rapport. This is the basic module of repetition of a design. The design that repeats in rows and columns, alternative squares or in a brick pattern for example.
  • How complex will the pattern be? How the pattern is distributed and detail determine complexity.
  • Will you have any overlaps? Think about tartan for example.
  • Will the design have interlacing? That is elements which pass over each other. Like knot work.
  • How much space will you leave in the background?
  • How will you use scale? That is the difference between large and small elements.

Task 2

You will need: Paper a pencil, colored pencils or paints if you have them.
Choose a person, either someone you know or a celebrity and design them a pattern, decide where the pattern will be used for example, an item of clothing or a wall hanging. Taking into consideration the list above, think about how you will design a pattern for your chosen person to fit their personality or history.

Nénuphar Verneuil Pl 2.jpg

Tassel House ground floor.JPG

Art Nouveau

Was a movement from the end of the nineteenth century that came out of the revival of the decorative arts in a variety of countries around the world. The term art nouveau is used to describe curvilinear vegetal ornament that can be seen in the patterns above.

Batik pattern - kawung.jpg

Batik printing is an ancient form of textile printing with traditions in a variety of countries. It was developed to a very sophisticated level on the island of Java in Indonesia. It involves a wax resist process and carefully mixed dyes. The effects are striking and effective.

task 3

You will need: Paper a pencil, colored pencils if you have them.
Pick one of the fabric patterns from this page Think of a design for an outfit made entirely out of material out of this chosen fabric. Draw sketches of items of clothing on a figure or draw individual items of clothing if you prefer.