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THE RHYTHM OF PROPORTION

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One of my jobs (and sometime bete-noire) doing design work and other creative projects is getting to grips with the rhythm of proportion. Shoud be simple right? Not so much. Proportions vary (obviously) depending on what you are working on and as I find myself designing all sorts of different kinds of things in my job, means that you are constantly shifting the proverbial, proportional goalposts.

In order to achieve the desired outcome of proportional simplicity requires either a) mathematical devices (I do on occasion) or b) a finely attuned eye (my preference). By looking, looking and looking again you get the picture. Without a visual input there is no chance of just guessing what works, it needs to be seen.

For design work, when figuring out the layout of a brochure or poster for example, I am searching for a rhythm, a punctuated space or a proportion that, when placed correctly, sings back at you YES! THIS IS THE ONE. The rhythm of a page or wall or whatever, despite me using a musical reference, is purely visual, it allows your eyes to glide across the beat of a visually pleasing scene. If something clunks you feel it like a bum note or an out of tune voice.

For me to get to this point of golden proportion takes time, patience and self-confidence. And when you can’t quite get it right, it’s time to walk away, have a break and come back to it the next day. The walking away technique never fails to work no matter how you might feel at the time. And here’s the truth, despite what some people may expect of a designer, creating proportionally pleasing, new and interesting work takes time, enforcing a period of reflection that cannot be rushed, sometimes making this job feel harder than perhaps it should, but when it works; it really works.

PAINTING STRIPES

STRIPES

I have been thinking [read: over thinking] just what to do with the bedroom wall to give it that little extra oopmh. The thought process went as such: wallpaper or not to wallpaper, paint stripes or not to paint stripes… The argument was pretty much that and to be fair VERY boring. So here’s the outcome. I bit the bullet, I decided to paint some yellow stripes on the wall in a kind of retro futuristic headboard vibe and as it turns out, I’m pretty pleased with the results.

The great thing about painting a feature wall in your home is that it’s a great value way of adding impact on a small budget. And of course the golden rule, if it looks rubbish, you can always paint over it.

To get the look you’ll need:

  • a metre rule or a long straight piece of wood
  • ALOT of masking tape (good quality)
  • base colour paint
  • your chosen stripe colour paint
  • pencil, ruler and rubber
  • a lot of patience and a small amount of OCD

First up was picking out just the right shade of yellow which took some time. Yellow can be quite a tricky colour on a wall and I didn’t want a mustard custard egg yellow, I wanted something translucent, slightly neon and light which doesn’t exist in your average range of paint tester pots. I ended up mixing my own colour using a neon yellow paint mixed with a lemon and white after testing some unsuccessful shades at varying times of the day. Being a light and sunny room, the yellow I chose warms the room nicely but be warned; certain yellows have the effect of making you feel like you are living inside Big Bird, and no one wants that no matter how much you love Sesame Street.

I wanted the stripes to act like a headboard but not to envelop the entire wall so I chose to sit them within the bed border and to go all the way up to the ceiling. This sat nicely with mirrors either side of the bed, any bigger and I think it would have looked overwhelming.

I marked out the edges using a piece of string with a weight attached to the bottom for an absolute straight edge and then taped it out. I then chose my angle and width and marked out the stripes (see pic) using a very feint pencil line (using anything heavier will end up with you seeing the lines forever so I advise a light touch here).

In order to prevent the paint from bleeding through the masking tape (note – less likely the better quality masking tape you use) I painted over the masked out stripes with the wall’s base coat (white) so that if any paint was to bleed through the tape you wouldn’t notice. With the masking tape was now sealed down and dry, I painted the yellow over the white making sure to paint the right areas with right paint.

When the yellow paint was fully dry (no cheatin’) I removed the masking tape (gingerly to avoid plaster being ripped off too) and saw my stripes in all their glory. The impact was marvellous.

Next stop, a striking piece of monochrome art to sit on top… the mission for a little more oopmh continues.
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Creative Spaces

Studio WallIn stark contrast to my uber-organised (read: anal) pegboard, my other studio wall has a lot to answer for.

I absolutely love having a giant moodboard in my work space (although my studio mates Studio Can Can and Cult Zeros might not be as keen…!). I use it to paste up postcards, ripped out pictures from magazines and as many pictures of David Bowie and Blondie as humanly possible.

Every so often I try to colour co-ordinate the mishmash to give it a more pleasing look and feel, but less often, in the spirit of Edwyn Collins, I rip it up and start again. And therein lies the beauty of my constantly evolving studio wall.