Roundles Pallet

The Roundles Pallet art series began in 2008, when Alex started to seriously experiment with generative art. One of the first bits of code he wrote arranged thousands of spots into layers of pattern; another programme did the same with stripes. Two of these “Patterandom” artworks were digitally printed onto fabric and exhibited internationally. At the time, he wrote:
“[the works] draw on the traditions of printed textiles, re-contextualising or translating historic subject matter into the digital design arena. In particular, the work explores the possibilities of … generative design, using a combination of industry standard software and programming.”

The idea of creating complexity from simple pattern elements dated even further back to Alex’s MA (1991-92), when he first began using scientific concepts in his work (in the shape of Chaos Theory).

Fascinated by the potential of combining generative coding with digital print, he deciding to develop Patterandom into a research project, this time exploring the science of Complexity. At the time, he was lecturing and thought a PhD would be the best way to do this. As this took shape, he got increasingly excited about the creative potential, particularly when he began creating libraries of images for the code to work with. Over time, it became clear that the practice itself was what Alex wanted to do, rather than academic research about it. Without starting the PhD, he wouldn’t have realised this; he then made the difficult decision to stop academic research and the very easy decision to focus on making art.

Patterandom (spot version) development image for Roundles Pallet art, creative code by Alex Russell
Patterandom (spot version)
Genuary 21 Day 16 development image for Roundles Pallet art, creative code by Alex Russell
Genuary 21 Day 16 output


One of the key concepts that emerged from his research was how pertinent the different meanings of pattern were. Working as a freelance printed textiles and surface pattern designer, Alex had created hundreds of patterns, in the sense of repetitive arrangements of motifs. Once his coding skills began to develop, he became aware of the computational concept of Design Patterns, of a library of approaches to solving problems with code. In turn, this was developed from architect Christopher Alexander’s 1977 Pattern Language theory, in particular his quote:

“Each pattern describes a problem which occurs over and over again …, and then describes the core of the solution to that problem, in such a way that you can use this solution a million times over, without ever doing it the same way twice.”

In turn, Alexander’s concept draws on the concept of a universal grammar of architecture suggested by Quatrèmere de Quincy (1755-1849). This was developed in a decorative pattern context in Owen Jones’s “The Grammar of Ornament” (1856) in which he proposed:

“general laws [appear] to reign independently of the individual peculiarities of each [style]”.

Independent peculiaities

This idea of independence can be seen in the separation in Alex’s work between the code (the laws that control how his artworks are composed) and the image library (the individually peculiar images that the code works with). It allows him to tap into ways of structuring visual content that “occur over and over again”; methods such as armatures or grids that artists and designers have developed to help arrange the content within their work. Jones’s “laws” are the algorithms Alex develops that could be used to structure any visual content. His code works with the (generally hand-made) images “without ever doing it the same way twice”. Each code output is unique.

Since “Patterandom”, spots and stripes have featured in much of Alex’s generative art. In January 2022’s “Genuary” coding challenge, one of the daily prompts was “Draw 10,000 of something”. He took “Patterandom” as a starting point, initially writing code that built an image of 10,000 spots. He later developed this as part of the Gen22 series. The interest in this work led him to significantly refine the code, creating an algorithm that models the human perception of the spectrum, building rich, vibrant outputs from balanced points around the colour wheel. Stripes now feature, and the tone and position of each new layer is in response to existing content with the image.

Genuary 22 Day 01 development image for Roundles Pallet art, creative code by Alex Russell
Genuary 22 Day 01 output
Generative one-off art print Roundles Pallet 220804 1801 by Alex Russell
Roundles Pallet 220804 1801

Roundles Pallet art

The name Roundles Pallet is a play on heraldic terminology (it means spots and stripes) and a nod to the circular nature of the algorithm that creates the colour (palette).

The code is written in Processing, running on a PC powered by electricity from 100% sustainable sources. All prints are archive quality, professionally giclée printed in the UK on acid-free, museum paper. Alex Russell hand-signs each one.

Buying or commissioning

Roundles Pallet is available as a series of archive-quality prints on paper. Browse and buy here.

If you’re interested in commissioning Roundles Pallet art at a different size or on another surface/substrate, please get in touch.