I want to talk a little about eye control tonight. I have talked about lead ins and this piece by Emile Gruppe is a great example of a lead in followed by eye control. By eye control I mean the ability to seize the viewers attention and direct their gaze the way YOU want it to go through the painting.
This painting has been set up to lead your eye from the foreground snow to the bridge and then along the road to the second bridge and then up to the snow covered hills beyond. It is simple, obvious and compelling. It is also very rhythmic.
Notice the relationship between the dark forest atop the distant hills and the swooping road across the middle ground. The road sweeps you in to the right, and the line of the hills sweeps you back the other way. All of this is invented by the way. Gruppe used what was at the location to assemble his picture but the swooping roller coaster of a design was installed. Incidentally I have stood on this location, the second bridge is gone and the first is now unused and much overgrown, but it is still picturesque.
Notice too the parade of dark shapes arranged along this serpentine pathway. The whole bottom third of the picture is white, and the middle is an arrangement of dark shapes that are almost all connected to each other. You have probably read my posts suggesting "linking" your darks, here is a picture that does that well.
I was asked to talk about how I painted the gray of the weathered boards in that barn I painted last week. Here is Gruppe handling a similar subject. On the side of that bridge Gruppe has painted a violet tone and then thrown yellow and some blue down into that for variation. Them he pulls the dark lines in it that make us see boards and the cracks between them. Not all of them, mind you, just a few. This is a passage that is a trap for the unwary painter as the tendency is to overstate those boards resulting in a stiff and busy design. Most of the sweet things in a painting are the result of restraint and not of hammering the viewer to make your point.
Do you know why they covered bridges? Usually people say it was so you could get out of the weather or to ease snow removal, but the real reason is that keeping the weather of the deck made it last. Just as the roof on your house keeps the floors from getting wet and rotting out, the roof on a covered bridge assures a long life for the deck.
I will write about it more in a day or two, but the Stapleton Kearns workshop in the land of the blues, the Mississippi delta is beginning to fill.
If you live in the south and want to take my workshop this is your chance. Rolling Fork is the birthplace of Muddy Waters, I intend to bring an iPod full! See you there on March 15th. This is a five day workshop so there will be lots of opportunities for individual attention.