Aldro Hibbard. Lanesville
I have been thinking about the question asked by deepbluehue and want to speak a little more about that.
I'm interested in learning more about concealed geometric arrangements. How do you decide what kind of geometric arrangement to use? I'm guessing that you design your landscape, still life, etc. to express that arrangement but subtly.
I don't need to know music theory to enjoy Debussy. Most of the viewers don't know about the structure operating within a painting. They don't really need to know about that structure to enjoy the art. But if you want to MAKE a painting you do need to know about the concealed geometry underlying a designed image.
There was a period a few years back when dentists offices often featured wall sized photomurals of forests and other subjects. I think that has passed and now they are back to those lovely charts about gum disease and posters of happy chipmunks wielding over sized toothbrushes, in the pastel shades those sorts of rodents prefer. The over sized photos didn't really work. They lacked that spark, that humanness, that a painting has. They were of course as accurate as they could be, but they weren't arranged. That geometry concealed below the surface of a traditional painting appeals to something in us that craves order. I think that is why photography hasn't really destroyed painting like many thought it would.
Now lets talk about that Hibbard. It is of Lanesville, Massachusetts. That's a place I know pretty well. It is still a good place to paint and hasn't changed all that much. Many artists have painted there. The design is built on a diagonal leading the viewer up through the painting to the right.
All the way around that diagonal there are other lesser lines running in the opposite direction to counterbalance the design.We usually expect a picture to "balance" . A line generally needs to be countered by an opposite line to balance.
The arrangement of the lines in the picture, gives it
AN ORDER CALLED BALANCE.
I think a few of you are surprised that I call balance a design element, but it is. In fact it is the most basic design element, for those of you who imagine you can make good paintings without having to use an underlying geometric structure, remember balance. You can sometimes just crop a picture to balance, but if you are merely copying photographs, you will have problems with your pictures balancing, even if nature should accidentally occur before your lens in a pleasing arrangement, that leads the eye well, and gives a feeling of enough arrangement to satisfy that human need for order.
Above is a Willard Metcalf (from artrenewal.org) That also has a diagonal design, see it running right up the middle of the painting? The rising diagonal has a positive and major key feeling. Like the Hibbard before it has the same counterbalancing lines intersecting and setting off the main diagonal of the composition.
So there is another design stem. A rising diagonal with smaller lines counterbalancing it. This is a very useful composition and is found frequently not only in landforms but in skies too.
As you look at paintings, try to discover the geometric structure upon which the artist has built his design. Often just knowing that there is a hidden geometry there is enough to help you spot it. Tomorrow I will talk about another design stem.