Introduction to Creative Exploration on the Web
Harvard Extension School

Kandinsky Circles

Sheri Sutton

Project Details


Sheri Sutton


Feb 2017


The Bauhaus (Spring 2017)

Student Comments

Inspiration: Circles in a Circle, Wassily Kandinsky

I’ve never really been a fan of the Bauhaus Movement. I considered it sterile and at times a little jarring. While taking a second look at the works from this period, however, I started to realize how much of a contribution Bauhaus has made to modern art and just how much my own design aesthetic has changed. I was attracted to the works of Wassily Kandinsky, in the online Harvard Art Museum, with Johannes Molzahn and Paul Klee coming in as close seconds. This is probably due to Kandinsky’s use of color and I originally thought I would use Squares with Concentric Circles as my inspiration piece. 

Next, I started to do more research, focusing on Kandinsky’s life and works. This is how I discovered Circles in a Circle. I was instantly drawn to this piece and knew I had to work with it. Circles in a Circle was created while Kandinsky was an instructor at Bauhaus. The composition is balanced and harmonious but has an energy to it from the chaotic circles and random but plain black lines shooting through the canvas. It also has a retro sci-fi feel to it, which appealed to me but probably wasn't intended when the piece was originally painted. 

The decision to work with Circles in a Circle gave me the opportunity to experiment with alpha channels and geometric shapes and to study the interplay between these elements. My interpretation diverges from the original by using nested triangles instead of random circles. By layering the triangles and using various degrees of transparency, I was able to still create random shapes and triangles. When the mouse hovers over the center of the canvas, the scene changes to concentric circles as a way to marry the original with the new, as well as a homage to Squares with Concentric Circles. Random colors are used in the circles to recreate the energy of the original. I kept Kandinsky’s color palette and composition layout. The large yellow and teal lines running through the canvas serve to balance and ground an otherwise busy scene. 

My main challenge in approaching this project was narrowing and focusing my ideas. I encountered some frustration when I realized my current skillset wasn’t ready for some of my ideas. I had to make several shifts to accommodate the nature of the medium and eventually gave up some control to let P5.js show me what it wanted to do. Something I’ve had to learn to do in other creative mediums too. 

Overall, I enjoyed this project. I had so much fun writing a line of obscure syntax and hitting the play button to see what would happen next. I’m also glad I revisited the Bauhaus Movement and discovered a new favorite piece of art in Circles in a Circle.