My First p5 Sketch

Here’s my first sketch using p5.js:

It’s an adaptation of a watercolor, Three Houses (1922), by the Swiss painter Paul Klee.

I had next to no familiarity with p5, Processing, or Javascript going into this assignment. What I wanted most was to familiarize myself with the language and the library, and adapting a work comprised of basic geometry afforded this extremely well.

The composition of this adaptation was simple enough, if relatively time consuming. I created the background, and then another background, began layering rows of varying size and color, and finally added the rectangles, triangles, and the lone ellipse. Numbering the shapes made my life easier. (Although the rectangles still gave me difficulty, as, unlike the case with the triangles, I had to do some guesswork when it came down to the last ~50-100 pixels.)

For the colors, I attempted to use Photoshop’s color-grabbing tool, but that proved fruitless: all it yielded were terribly muted, dark shades of brownish blues, greens, and yellows. So I guessed, tweaked, and eventually settled on a different palette, albeit one still influenced by the original.

Klee’s watercolor benefits from the natural gradients achieved by two similar colors bleeding into one another (see especially the uppermost panel), as well as, oddly enough, the faint stains and signs of aging. These effects I found myself unable to recreate. The materiality of the physical work, in other words, is detectable, sensible even in its photographic reproduction, and even in the digital extension of its photographic reproduction. This materiality grants the work a certain weightiness, depth, and mystery.

My work, on the other hand, is all surface. While it catches the eye with its array of color, it looks worse the longer you stare at it—seemingly the opposite effect of looking at Klee’s. Next week’s lessons should benefit a work like this. If, for example, the structures trembled whenever you moused over them…


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