Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Dissecting a Metcalf 3
Well, here's our image again. Lets notice something else about those lines I have drawn across the painting.
They are all springy, arched lines. All of them are convex, there are very few concave lines in nature. These swelling lines represent the bulging forms of the hills they describe. The expression of the roundness of nature is called FORM. You are aware that figure painters use form, as they express the volumes of the human body, did you know landscape painters use the same methods to express the solidity of the earth and of the things upon it?
These lines also display rhythm in their relationship to one another. Although they are all different, they repeat the movements of one another, in a lively and joyous manner.
There's another thing going on with these lines. They overlap one another starting from the front, showing that each form is successively behind the last. These forms recede in size. That is, the largest hills are the closest, and they grow smaller as they recede further from the viewer.
The dark pine trees are arrayed like accents along these lines, decorating them. Every one of our lines is pierced, obstructed or interrupted by one of these upright trees, even the upper most hills' bounding line is crossed by a tree.The largest, darkest trees are well inside the painting. Notice there are no heavy darks against the edge of the picture. No two of the trees are the same size or shape, and no two of the hills bounded by the lines are of the same volume. Each of the arcs described by the lines is different. No two parallel each other or the frame. This is called variety of shape. Metcalf has been careful not to repeat the same shape or angle of line. This gives the painting greater visual interest, There is more to discover here. If it takes longer for the viewer to perceive each of the different shapes in the painting, it will hold their attention longer. Great variety of shape is one of the marks of fine painting and one of the tell tale signs of a weaker effort is the same shapes, or interval between those shapes unconsciously repeated over and over again . Repeating shapes also give an unnatural, man made look to things.
Painters speak about an artistic inequality of proportion. What that means is that different values or shapes are not evenly divided in the painting. The area given to the hills in the painting is not the same as the area of the sky. If they were both the same size, the painting would be static and seem dead, because of its too equal division.
I have now identified these characteristics of the lines in Metcalfs painting.
1) the arched lines express the form of the landscape and give that D which is three.
2) the arched lines have a lyrical relation to each other called rhythm.
3) the lines overlap one another and the size of the forms described decreases to give an ordered recession into the painting.
4) these lines bear accents and ordered decorations, the trees, that gracefully allow and then impede our eyes movements along those lines.
5) the areas bounded by the lines and the shapes of the trees, are carefully crafted to be unique and different from one another, so that no shape or area is the repeat of another. This is done to obtain maximum visual interest.
None of these things JUST happened . Each is the result of a conscious decision made by the artist.These things did not happen by luck, accident, observation, sincerity, talent or just plain coolness, they arrived in this work of art by deliberate design.