Does Op Art Need Shading?

black white op art

So far this month we’ve explored the work of Op Art painter Bridget Riley. She spent decades exploring perception and the viewer’s gaze. Is that something I could even begin to touch in this quick project?

I decided to keep it simple and do a project I remember from middle school. Only this time I used Clip Studio Paint instead of a ruler and colored pencils. By the time I was done, I realized it would have been faster in pencil, but that’s probably because I’ve never tried to do anything so precise in digital.

Check out this first one:

black white op art

If it looks familiar, you might have done something like this in school as well. You start with straight lines converging in the center like in a spider web. Then in each section draw the curves, alternating the direction as you go around. You end up with a wobbly, web-like pattern. Now color in every other sections and voilĂ  – Op Art!

I took it a step further and added shading and highlights. Then I wondered – does it need that? I looked through other Op Art images and saw that it’s the use of shape, line, and color that makes the piece. You think I’d have known that already since I just wrote about that exact thing, but I learn better by doing. 🙂

black white op art

What do you think? Shading or no shading? Do we have to be purists about it? Of course not – it’s art!

Next I used my random color picker to add different color combinations. For all of them I was cringing as the second color came up. But after the fact I sort of love all of them!

I didn’t adjust the shading for each one and it shows. For these, I think the unshaded versions are way better.

I made one other piece, but this time I started with a single wavy line. Then I copied it and shifted it slightly over and over again until the canvas was full.

wavy lines op art

I liked it just black and white, but tried out a few different colors with the color picker anyway. A little shading and highlight (this time it needed it!) and here’s the result:

red orange yellow wave op art

This was a really fun project. You should try it too! I’d love to see what you make!