Saturday, March 28, 2009
Dissecting a Hibbard 2
Above you see an exaggerated version of all the darks in our Hibbard painting. Look at that! They are all connected together. If you put your finger down on any dark in the painting, you could without lifting it, travel around all of the darks. The darks are joined into one super shape.
The popular idea that modern non representational painting has freed artists to become better designers than the representational guys before them is refuted by examples like this. Traditional painting is chiefly concerned with how it is a picture of, and not what it is a picture of.
The essence of good design is simplicity. This painting is an exquisite tracery of one interlocked shape of dark, silhouetted against the light. This shows the fabulous shape designing ability that Hibbard had. It will seem basic to you all who have followed this blog, but I will reiterate for the benefit of the newly arrived, or the victims of a wholly visual draftsman's teaching,
This design was imposed on nature and not discovered there!
The perfect painting would be a dark shape against a larger light shape, or a large dark decorated with a smaller shape of light. In practice this may be an unobtainable ideal or even a ridiculous abstraction so synthetic as to destroy our ability to represent the particular scene before us. It does however, point out one possible path towards simplification.
Every time you connect two nearby darks into one, you cut the number of shapes, as you connect more and more you simplify your image. This applies to the lights also, you can join them up too, but in practice it is the darks in the landscape that lend themselves most to this tactic. A few large and interesting shapes are preferable to a lot of little fussy disconnected ones.
LINK YOUR DARKS TO SIMPLIFY YOUR PAINTINGS.
This is one of the reasons why I find snow painting so fascinating, essentially everything is silhouetted in front of the big light of the snow. So snow painting provides an enormous amount of design opportunities.
One can learn a whole lot about snow painting oddly enough, by studying 19th century etchings. Those men dealt with the this same problem continually. That big dark design silhouetted against the white of the paper. The international fad for etching in the late 19th and early 2oth centurys produced scores of fabulous designers. Yes, yes, I know that will be another series of posts, design motifs of late 19th century Scottish etchers. Now that sounds obscure doesn't it?
Paging Muirhead Bone! Would Mr. Muirhead Bone please report to the painting area?
Tomorrow, lines drawn on paintings!