D is for...

Drawing is putting a line around an idea.

- Henry Matisse

D stands for drawing, doodling and design

Today’s project will focus on using very simple shapes in repetition to discover new shapes. All the letters of the alphabet can be used as inspiration. You will create a row of the same individual letter in repetition, and discover new shapes and develop your combinations as a result. So in other words, the process is to repeat the same lower case letter, connected, to create a string of letters in order to make a pattern.

Mini Project

In your sketchbook or on watercolour paper (in case you want to add colour washes) draw a row of five to eight connected one-letter shapes (use the same letter only) and then repeat alongside in reverse as a mirror image. Your shape will have to adapt to create a mirror image. Try one of the following letters to start with, lower case and connecting them as if you were writing a word, not used separated in print: O, I, E, C, J, L, M, N, T, V & W.

The aim is to get the mirrored side to correspond to the letter design by drawing in reverse. The shape is like a stem of a spikey plant with leaves. Some letters are trickier than others - we are so conditioned by the learnt ability to write that creating a repetition of letters is easy, but repeat it in reverse whilst adjusting the shape to match could be a bit tricky.

Also try the letters A, B, D, F, G, H, K. P, Q, R, S, U, X & Y.

Other options

Instead of a mirror image, a row of letters themselves could become an interesting pattern. See what you can discover with e.g. a row of F & O shapes. After a few rows, inspect them. What appeals to you? A more abstract patterned shape, or something more organic? Would these be better more distorted and as a less perfect pattern, or would you like to develop it by adding more shapes onto the letter patterns?

If you like the organic feel, could this be a flower shape. What flower shape will suit the top? Options could be to adapt shapes from the letter you’ve used for the stem in the making of a flower or something at the top of the row of letters. Maybe use a grouping of using the letter’s capital?

Try this a few times in different letters and scales. Not all will work equally well, but you will create new designs with this exercise. It is a process of discovery, go with the flow! How about creating a ‘stem of shapes’ going into a different direction? Can you see this as a surface pattern or textile design?


Taking something that is familiar and simple like a letter in its basic form, a shape that is easy and flowing, to become a pattern with new dynamics. The project is about using repetition to discover new shapes by accident and then applying it in a way that suits your style.

Have you discovered some new shapes with the exercise? Which letters worked best for you? Could this be a way for you to discover new shapes and in what way will you use it in your work?

Here’s a Pinterest board with some inspiration:


You're welcome to share your outcomes in the group’s Facebook page. Please don't post course material or outcomes to to other public Internet sites or to social media.

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© 2020 Esté MacLeod

© 2020 Explore Colour