Abstract Puzzles


The start of a series of grid-based artwork on a contrasting diagonal puzzle grid.

The first step in solving a normal puzzle is to find all the edge pieces and create the frame of the jigsaw, and then work inwards from there. I'd been finding that with my recent puzzles I was using the frame as a crutch, and relying a lot more on finding related pieces based on the alignment of their tabs than their surface design. For this series I wanted to shake that up, and force myself to engage with the visual design as well as the piece design.

I didn't want to move too far away from the traditional piece shape yet, but by turning them 45 degrees all the edge pieces become triangles - very easy to differentiate but impossible to form as a frame on their own. I made all the tabs for the edge pieces face out and combined the two corner pieces into one large triangle for structural integrity.

By using a non-cartesian grid I was also freed up to base the visual design on a cartesian grid without it conflicting with the pieces. Heavily inspired by Matt Deslauriers' and Manolo Gamboa Naon's work with grids I started placing random configurations of circles, semi-circles, and squares on the canvas. The eureka moment came when I added a second layer of double the size, but offset it by half a cell.

Each layer has two colours, and by using different blend modes for each layer it generates a mostly-harmonious palette out of completely random hues. Each shape also has a random opacity - this doesn't add much to the work as a piece of art, but as jigsaw artwork, having slightly different colours across the puzzle makes it so much easier and more pleasant to solve.

I found this jigsaw a delight. Because I wasn't able to make a frame, I concentrated on the most distinct groups of colour and worked out from there. The puzzle had a good mix of pieces with straight lines, curved lines, and more complex intersections. It was discomforting to lay out the pieces on the diagonal initially instead of building the whole puzzle as a diamond, but a fun, fizzy sort of discomfort.