Saturday, July 18, 2009
A month or so ago, I told a story about painting out in a blueberry field and how bizarre the terrain was there. One of the readers asked if I would show a picture of the painting. I could only find an image on a greeting card, I photoshopped that, but it is still a lousy reproduction, but here it is just the same. In believe I painted this one in 1989, it was shown, that year at the biennial show at the National Academy of Design. I told a story about that here.
The reason I dragged this picture out here tonight is that I was looking for an example of a different sort of composition. You have seen me stringing pearls and balancing masses. And you have seen the diagonal designs, if you have been with this blog for awhile. This painting is built around a circle. The lines in the painting carry us around the circle in a clockwise direction. The springy lines of the birches and the rocks at eight o'clock are all arrayed about that circumference. The center is relatively empty.
The painting is a weird shape, its a 26 x 29, (that's a Metcalf size) so it is nearly square. Circular compositions are usually most suited to squarish shapes . You can use this design on an elongated canvas like a 24 x 36 but it is less natural. Square canvases almost set up the great circle route on their own.
When I have worked in this square and circle format, I have tried to design my canvas so that it holds the viewer as long as possible. This circle composition lends itself to that. Sometimes I think of it as a vortex into which I try to suck the viewer. If you "spin em" for even an instant you have got their attention. They won't be aware on a conscious level of what you are up to, but they do get pulled in, when these design are working.
For those of you who are recent arrivals to this blog, part of what I am teaching here is the idea of design as an armature on which you hang your painting. Paintings, good ones anyways, operate on a concealed geometric arrangement. They are not random, but arranged. If you copy a photograph, you will not get an arranged design. Your design will be random and probably arrhythmic as well.There are people who believe they can shortcut the learning curve by copying photographs and thus avoiding all the difficulties of freehand drawing. The idea of design doesn't really occur to those artists. They select, rather than arrange their designs. Rather than arrange, they crop.
However, a great percentage of the buying public is charmed by these copied photographs. They stand before them and exclaim "it looks just like a picture" they marvel at what they think of as the consummate skill of the artist. And they will buy those paintings too. Every gallery I know of has one of these painters, and they are frequently among the best sellers in the gallery. They incidentally all paint just alike, they paint just like a photograph. All that varies from artist to artist, is that at which they have pointed their camera. I have written about stylelessness, vision and photography here.
The details are being finalized for a workshop to be held the weekend plus one day, either Friday or Monday ( so it will be a three day workshop ) of the 19th of September in Jaffrey, New Hampshire. September will be beautiful in the rolling hills of southern New Hampshire. More on that soon.
That oughta hold ya.