Saturday Studio: Easy Illusions!

Kaitlin Binkley, Director of Visual Communications

In my second Saturday Studio, I’d like to look at line, color, and optical illusions! School was important and taught me a lot of things in preparation for my job here at the museum, but the museum has, in turn, taught me things I never could have learned in the classroom! One of those things is curation.

I was asked to help curate an exhibition in 2019, Full Spectrum: Paintings, Drawings, and Prints by Julian Stanczak; Wood and Stone Sculptures of Barbara Stanczak, and threw myself into learning about the artists and their work. There is an unteachable element to curation, a sense of “right” when it all comes together! That doesn’t mean, however, that it wasn’t difficult to organize and lay out these 100+ artworks. I had a great time, and I think the retrospective was a successful and thoughtful homage to two great artists. Read about them on the website here:

First step, gather your materials! Photo courtesy of FWMoA.

In this Op Art exercise, we’ll need:

  • paper
  • pencil
  • a ruler
  • markers

You’ll also need a hand! Hot chocolate in a cute mug is recommended, but not required. Just be careful not to spill any on your artwork!

First step: Mark your paper! Photo courtesy of FWMoA.

Taking a regular sheet of 8.5×11” paper, I marked every 1 cm from top to bottom on both sides. Then, I used the ruler to lightly draw a straight line across the page in pencil.

Place your, or your volunteers’, hand in the middle of the page and trace the outline lightly in pencil. Don’t have the fingers go off the edge! TIP: You might want to spread the fingers wide, but it’s up to you! I had my pointer and ring fingers closer together and it made it a little tricky later.

Starting at the bottom, take your marker and draw a straight line following your pencil line until you get to the outline of your hand. Inside the traced hand, curve your line into an arc to the straight line on the other side of the traced hand. Then, trace the straight line to the edge of the page. Make sure it’s the same line on both sides of the hand, don’t move up or down a line on accident. It’s an easy process! But, if you switch colors like I did, it could take some time. I did three colors: Peach, Pink, and Hot Pink. My process went Peach, Pink, Hot Pink, Pink, then repeat all the way up the sheet! Just follow the first arch line you drew and the straight lines outside the hand you marked to keep your lines even.

Almost done! Photo courtesy of FWMoA.

When it got to the fingers, make your arch smaller and make one for each finger. This is where it got tricky for me. My fingers were so close together that I had to make an “M” shape for a few lines, and I wondered if it would be messed up! Trust the process and just keep repeating. I think it worked out in the end for me, but I did go back with my marker and connect some lines later. If you finish the pattern and see that your hand shape is underdefined, you can go back with your darkest color and make some lines along your traced hand. I would only do one side, though, to maintain the illusion we’ve created!

After you reach the top, you’re done! You can frame your new Op art, send it as a gift, or try a new combination of colors! Share your work with us on social media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter.

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