This course will enable you to make patterns and to learn to understand Islamic geometric compositions. You will only need a ruler/straight edge, a pencil and a marker to make these patterns. You won't have to make any calculations, just follow my step by step instructions and you will be amazed at what you can create, using the same design techniques Islamic craftsmen have used for centuries. I will also show how to tessellate patterns in an efficient way and, importantly, how to embellish patterns. Islamic geometric design is not just about drawing patterns with black lines. What you do to the patterns after you have drawn them, how you make them more beautiful is a very important part of using your personal creativity. I will show some techniques and styles that have been used over the centuries in different part of the Islamic world to make geometric compositions more beautiful.
What I hope you will learn in this course: how to make patterns, how to develop a more profound appreciation of the beauty of Islamic geometric design, techniques craftsmen used to embellish patterns, and hopefully you will want to keep learning about this design tradition
Using examples from Islamic art and architecture, we look at what creates the enormous diversity of compositions in Islamic geometric design.
Even though geometric compositions in Islamic art and architecture can often seem very complex, they all use the same rules. These rules are relatively simple. Craftsmen used these design principles to enable them to make compositions and we can use them for the same purpose. Understanding these principles and recognising how they work in a composition, helps us construct but also de-construct compositions. The examples in this lecture all from Agra in India.
Patterns and grids need to work together in order to create geometric compositions. Understanding how they can work together creatively forms the foundation for most of the complex, innovative and beautiful compositions.
The fourfold pattern whose method of construction is shown in this lecture, can be found across many regions and eras of the Islamic world. It is especially good as a pattern for beginners but also as a pattern that you can embellish once all the lines have been drawn. A PDF template can be downloaded that already has the construction lines of the first step of the design sequence for this pattern
The fourfold pattern whose method of construction is shown in this lecture, can be found across many regions and eras of the Islamic world. It is a very common and recognisable pattern with a central eightpointed star, surrounded by eight 'petals'. The step-by-step instructions show how sometimes construction lines have to be drawn solely in order to create intersections for other construction lines. A PDF template can be downloaded that already has the construction lines of the first step of the design sequence for this pattern.
In the previous two lectures (5 and 6) we learnt how to make patterns that fit in a square. The next step is to tessellate these patterns to make a complete composition. This lecture shows you some tricks and principles that will help you create a composition efficiently, by keeping to a minimum the number of times you have to draw the same pattern. Two PDF's are provided that allow you to use the same grid of four squares as is used in the lecture.
The Ben Youssef madrasa in Marrakech is one of the masterpieces of Islamic architecture. It was built in the late 16th century and was named after a Marinid ruler, although it was built after the reign of the Marinids. Many of its floors and walls, as well as wooden panels are decorated with an enormous variety of geometric patterns, almost all of them fourfold patterns. To visit it is a visually overwhelming experience: the beauty of the decoration and of the building, the peacefulness of it in the middle of the bustling old center of Marrakech, it is hard to compare it with anything else. This video gives you a tour of the madrasa, focussing of course on the fourfold patterns.
The sixfold pattern whose method of construction is shown in this lecture, can be found across many regions and eras of the Islamic world. It is essentially a pattern of overlapping hexagons. In this lecture it is shown on a horizontal band of ceramic tiles on the shrine of Bibi Jawindi in Uch, Pakistan. A PDF template can be downloaded that already has the construction lines of the first step of the design sequence for this pattern.
This sixfold star pattern can be found (amongst others) on the famous wooden mihrab from the shrine of Sayyida Ruqayya (1133) in Cairo, Egypt.The star itself is familiar sixpointed star which, when tessellated in a grid of hexagons, becomes an effective sixfold pattern that is especially suited for embellishment. A PDF template can be downloaded that already has the construction lines of the first step of the design sequence for this pattern
In the previous two lectures (9 and 10) we learnt how to make patterns that fit in an hexagon. The next step is to tessellate these patterns to make a complete composition. This lecture shows you some tricks and principles that will help you create a composition efficiently, by keeping to a minimum the number of times you have to draw the same pattern. Two PDF's are provided that allow you to experiment with a grid of hexagons.
A successful geometrical composition is more than just a pattern drawn with single lines. In this course, all the examples from Islamic art and architecture show that what makes a composition beautiful, is the way it is embellished. In this lecture you will learn a few effective techniques to turn your line drawing into a more accomplished and interesting composition.
Now that you have finished this course, what can you do next? I offer some suggestions.
I'm a leading expert on Islamic geometric design. I've published three popular books on the subject, that have sold over 30,000 copies worldwide and are available in English, French, Farsi, Turkish and Dutch.
I feel passionate about reviving the spirit of creative innovation and excellence that characterises the art and architecture of, for example, the Mamluk, Ghurid and Seljuk eras. For craftsmen in these eras, it was not enough to recreate a composition, they instead made new compositions, they innovated and took Islamic geometric design to a new level. Through my books and workshops, I try to make a contribution to the revival of such a creative attitude to this subject.
My passion for Islamic Geometric Design started when I was living in Amsterdam in my early twenties. The initial appeal for me of Islamic geometric design was that it offered scope for creativity, for learning, and for historical study. I committed myself to Islamic geometric design and 25 years later, I still am equally committed to it. After ten years in Amsterdam of teaching myself this subject, I moved to London to study at the Prince's School of Traditional Arts and later at SOAS. My focus has changed since I moved to the UK: I am now especially interested in teaching this subject using the same approach craftsmen have used for centuries: with a pair of compasses and a ruler. Traditional craftsmen didn't calculate angles to make their geometrical compositions, they weren't mathematicians. Nevertheless, they were able to make very complex compositions with just these two tools. This fascinates me because it means we can also learn how to make Islamic geometric patterns without calculations and with only a pair of compasses and a ruler.
Even though I have been dedicated to this subject every day for the last twenty years, it is still sometimes a source of wonder to me that this is what I am doing. This feeling has only grown the last few years since I had the exceptional privilege to write my second book. I hope to write more books and to do more teaching.
Islamic Geometric Patterns (Book and CD), Thames & Hudson 2008
This small book shows how to make around twenty different patterns using just a pair of compasses, a pencil and a ruler. The patterns are categorised according to their level of complexity. Each pattern is linked to a building or art object that features that particular pattern. It's been translated into Farsi and Turkish and has sold over 25,000 copies. It has been the bestselling Islamic artbook in in 2012 and 2013.
Islamic Geometric Design , Thames & Hudson, 2013
The first large and comprehensive art book on this subject. It has over 800 illustrations, with many photos of buildings never before published. It gives a great deal of historical information as well as practical analysis of many of the compositions. It is also available in a French edition. It features an appendix that shows how to make over a dozen patterns, using the same methodology as in my first book.
Islamic Design Workbook, Thames & Hudson 2016
Like an adult colouring book but more fun, more challenging and more educational. It features 48 different patterns, categorised by region and complexity. Each pattern has a corresponding loose-leaf page which has pre-printed construction lines. The challenge is to figure out what sections of lines to trace and which sections to ignore, in order to create the pattern.
I manage one of the most lively facebook communities on Islamic art (with about 15,000 members.