Treefort 2017: Soundship: Window Installation

A new addition to this year's Treefort Music Fest in Boise is window art. Painting on windows was a first and I was excited to have The Owyhee offered as the location. 

Below are some process pictures with brief descriptions.


Each of the four windows measures 52" x 108". Including the three dividing braces the total composition equals 214" x 108". 


Since these window adjoin the main entrance picking up Treefort passes, I wanted to do something that would be both inviting as well as different, since a lot of foot traffic comes through this breezeway as people pick up their passes and bands and the press check in.

(pictured above: 16" x 12" ink on paper drawing of a model system I made in Blender, executed with a G2 Pen via the Cameo 3 cutter and plotter)

Given the scale of the windows, undertaking a high-detail endeavor was the direction I leaned.

I knew that at a certain point improvising the work was inevitable but without some structural underpinnings considered that my scale might compromise an overall cohesion. I hadn't worked on glass before, but after some tests at home on mirrors, discovered that the pens and materials I would be using suitable for temporary glass work may not allow the same speed-oriented line approach I've used on larger canvas works with large ink pens or pencils. So, I wouldn't be able to construct a composition the same way a drawing or painting might typically evolve.

However, if I broke the line segments down adequately, the speed wouldn't be necessary to perform good clean lines. I also wanted to incorporate some of my most recent work, experimenting with an XY Plotter, like this pen on paper work below. (If you're interested in that process, you can read more about that later here).

(pictured above: a 24" x 12" ink on paper drawing executed with the Cameo 3, and below, two detail images from that piece)

In order to begin making headway quickly, I had to determine how to get whichever final design I came up with onto the windows, which would involve plotting the intersections of lines on the physical windows. Since free-handing the design would require much more time than was left, and projecting the work on the windows seemed iffy at best (for me and the residents), it made sense to print out the images, apply them to the inside of the window, plot the intersections with dots and then connect those vertices free-hand and/or with a straightedge and paint pen. 

The below image is what I created and thought would lend itself to seeding the work as it both allows large interior facets as well as enough surrounding space to integrate improvised line work; it is composed of four distorted subdivided toruses that I modeled as references to large conical speaker drivers / magnets and felt like represented musical measures and beats through their varied segmentation: 

However, printing off these four separate 52" x 108" images at turned out to be expensive, so I opted to cut that cost in four by collapsing them digitally into 1/4 the area, overlaying them, and attribute four different line characteristics to keep them apart when executing the window work. The laser jet printer at FedEx is capable of printing a maximum 36" wide, so it required three separate prints that I would later tape together on site. 

The top third: 

The middle third: 

The bottom third: 

Below is what the overall composite looked like, with 4" square grids. I chose to go with vertical dashed lines, horizontally dashed lines, solid black lines, and a trace outline just based on each quadrants' characteristic line directionality and complexity.

Printing it off at FedEx

This was what the three separate 36" x 52" prints looked like on the table at FedEx; I realized only after they were assembled that I could have gotten away with much finer lines, but this didn't prove to be too much of an issue, though at the time I was having difficulty interpreting areas where all 4 line varieties overlapped. 

Due to that concern I decided to color-code the lines for better clarity.

One of the three prints completed with color-coding.

Two of the three rolled-up prints, ready for the next morning. By this point, everything was ready for work to begin, though still untested and theoretical. I prepared a little mentally for the possibility that the plan may have unforeseen obstacles. 

The first window would require plotting intersections of the orange lines. (The first time I taped it up inside, I taped it backwards on top of having some forgotten-about ladder anxiety, so, kind of a slow start). And there was a minor surprise: I hadn't considered that the distance between the exterior of the glass where I would be putting the physical work actually lay about 3.5" from the interior of the second pane of glass where the paper rested. Consequently, I couldn't plot the intersections as quickly as I had planned. It took a little getting used to.

Despite that surprise, lines started appearing on the window.

Progress on window one

This is the view from inside the resident entrance facing outward into the breezeway at the Owyhee once I had moved on to the second window.

Here you can see the plotting of intersections with dots. 

After a few days, the blue lines were complete.

I decided to triple the lines, using black pen to trace the interior spaces of the blue facets and then using white pen to iterate once more. It tripled the workload necessary to move on to other aspects of the piece but I felt it was necessary. I wanted the line work to have a bit more electricity and form in itself, and also felt as though regardless of where the painting process went, having some thin lines of untouched glass between the three line colors was worth putting in the additional energy. 

Progress of the insetting line work with black and white

Between the ensuing stretches of completing the black and white lines I took breaks and experimented with other colors in various configurations on some of the smaller portions of the work.

This is one of the windows at home that became a process testbed when away from the Owyhee.

This is some of the work concurrently underway in my studio.

Toward the end of drawing each line three times I was very eager begin the next stages.

Now it was time to bring life to the space and I launched into more familiar and less stringent line work.


Below is graph that shows the trade-off of outlook as time drew thinner and the process of completing the black and white inset lines extended:


Relationship of Outlook for "Soundship"

Using the time stamps of my process photos and notes taken during the process, this non-scientific chart shows the quick reverse-convergence of when input overtook perceived remaining workload, namely the days during which the geometric forms were completed and the improvised line work emerged.

The first portion of surrounding space quickly populated with imagery waiting within the glass itself.

Someone forgot their tie that morning.

More progress 

I was interested in providing an underlying world related to music, one as varied as the feelings it can evoke.

Finally, paint emerged on the scene. I used a plastic pastry texture comb tool while the paint was wet to produce the negative-space coherent lines.  

Dana Oland of the Idaho Statesman wrote a piece about the art at Treefort and it was an honor to have a picture of my work in process appear in it. She also made a short video in which you can hear me talk about the process on location, embedded below: 

<detail from inside the window>

<detail from inside the window>

<detail from inside the window>

Along the way, I started to like how the interior spaces of the forms were dynamic while walking around the breezeway. Since there are interior ceiling lights, deep dark shadows, and situations of parallax occurring from adjacent windows within the Owyhee, all of which mostly warm in tone, the direction of leaving the forms devoid of paint took hold early on and shaped how I interpolated the space with lines rather than predominantly paint.

As a result I decided to complete the work by encapsulating this dynamic experience within the bounds of the forms which were originally designed as positive space by adding a flat, slightly warmed light blue that would enclose the regions from the top of the windows down to the tangents.

This was the last section I painted to complete “Soundship”. Depending on time of day and weather, it may look different to you, which is good.

The finished windows. 

If you'd like to hear about future endeavors, click here

Cody Rutty