Central Park series: data-driven artwork

In this small series, I worked with the axidraw pen plotter and Processing to imagine the new growth happening in early spring in Central Park.

From the warmth of my room, I researched March weather data in Central Park as well as geotagged posts of spring flowers, outsourcing my reference-gathering to the data of others.

I made some simple plots of the weather data using Processing, comparing humidity and temperature by date and plotting the points as small circles.

Cloud cover was additionally represented by adding rings around the circles (the rule was to add one extra ring if cloud cover was between 30% and 60%, two if it was anything over 60%).

With the axidraw, I could then draw the plots accurately and precisely using waterproof artist’s pen directly onto watercolor paper.

I drew lines to create dimensional relationships between the data points, and then “grew” the flowers I’d been researching from home out of the spaces between the data points.

The data formed a “garden” to situate the flowers, and their pattern was dependent on its form, as with the growth anticipated in the season.

The data forms them and gives a structure to their layout, just like the forces represented by that data enable the form of our gardens year over year.

Sketches from Paris

I was recently in Paris for two weeks and made a lot of time to draw.
Some of my favorites:

Along the Canal St Martin

Out the window of a bistro in Montmartre

The historic yet unassuming Lapin Agile in Montmartre

Steps near Sacre Coeur. There are tons of steps to get up and down from Montmartre.

Sketches and painting of a window. The architecture is lovely and picturesque but surprisingly complicated to draw. Mostly I needed preparation to deal with the perspective due to looking from the ground, and a variety of grey-yellows to model the details with any depth.

Aperol spritz! With record high temperatures, these were a big feature during the trip.

Tiny sketch from a picnic when I learned to combine Schweppes Agrum’ soda (mixed citrus) with red wine for a sort of super-simple sangria

Canal boat navigating the locks on Canal St Martin

Window in the Latin Quarter

Doughnut peaches for breakfast

Rooftops drawn while taking a break from the heat

Antique chair

The cluttered interior of a lovely cafe where I had a little longer to draw


EYEO Festival visual notes

I recently attended Eyeo Festival for the second time, in early June. This time, instead of my separate sketch and written journals, I took notes all in my multimedia sketchbook. This meant that for almost every talk I attended, I ended up with at least one page full of important quotes and memorable visuals. Some highlights:
01 alexis lloyd
Alexis Lloyd on the history of robots and androids in our culture and our relationship to them. The video of her talk is up here!
02 tega brain
Tega Brain on her amazing IoT-type art projects she called “post-scary media arts”. She’s an inspiration. View the talk here.
03 patricio gonzalez vivo
Patricio Gonzalez Vivo on synchronicity and his AMAZING projects. Check out the talk here.
04 ben fry
Ben Fry, head of Fathom Information Design and co-creator of the fundamental computational drawing tool Processing, telling it like it is about “data visualization… and its hip cousin, “data-vis!””. See the whole talk here.
05 gene kogan
Gene Kogan presented so much fascinating info about style transfer and machine learning that I literally wrote off the page. He’s the only presenter I had to use more than one page for. Somehow I still managed to get some visual representations of his slides in too! They help me remember the presentation since I’m mostly visual. And since the video isn’t up on the eyeo channel yet—soon?
I’m not sure if you can tell yet, but Eyeo was -extremely- inspirational. I’m in love with all the projects here, and I’m so glad I have my notes to remind me what I want to strive for. I’ve already had a hand in some style transfer experiments using my maps—keep an eye out for a post on that soon!

Cozumel in photos and sketches

I just got back from a short trip to Cozumel, Mexico (to Boston, approximately 60 degrees colder!). I’d never been to Mexico, and while Cozumel is more a tourist island than a cultural destination, it was still fascinating. We went horseback riding and snorkeling, and saw a lot of sunsets. Below are a few of my photos; see more on Flickr.

costa-del-sol  downtown-cozumel hot-tub snorkel-boat sunsetcozumel

I also did a lot of sketching while I was there. I started out using mostly pencil like before, but eventually found a more optimal process with a thin pen, light grey marker and white China marker. It gives the tonal range that I would get from using a soft pencil and eraser, but it’s even faster, and (most importantly) it doesn’t smudge!

cozumel003crop Smudgy pencil on the upper left vs pen/marker technique. I can’t wait to try this with more things!cozumel004crop Trying other ways to use pen. Palm trees are hard because they have an overall texture; there’s no real tonal difference to latch onto.cozumel005crop Pen, light grey marker and white China marker on pink index card. I like starting with mid-toned paper so I can go both lighter and darker in tone. Sometimes it’s really the highlights that define the form (which is why I loved drawing with eraser so much)cozumel006cropFriends playing a card game. Basically, it’s just fun to draw. I also like the line quality that I get when I keep the pen moving as much as possible. It’s still hard drawing people who are constantly moving, but at least I feel like I’ve gotten something interesting out of it.