Monday, May 24, 2010

Building a square within a rectangular composition

If you take a rectangle, any rectangle will do, and draw a square within it. Usually by measuring one side and then finding that measurement across the rectangle, like so....
You now have an attractive mathematical armature upon which to build a design. As I mentioned before, the viewer finds hidden geometry pleasing in a painting. I think that is because they are vaguely aware that there is sense or order there, even if they don't know exactly why. Below are a couple of paintings that use this idea.

This Payne uses the square as an opening or window into his distance. Below is a variation on the idea by Eastman Johnson. The square is a little smaller but the idea is the same.

This square functions like a stage on which Johnson's actors pose. Can you find the square in this landscape by Enneking?

Above is a Leon Gerome from the artrenewal.com showing the same idea again. Napoleon and all of his roadies are confined within the square. The guy in the red dress defines the outer edge of the square.

20 comments:

Jussi Tarvainen said...

Really like these compositional posts Mr. Kearns. It's right up my alley at the moment so I'm getting a ton out of these. Big thanks:)

Karla said...

Thanks again for your blog! I am really learning a lot. One thing I have noticed is the great artists always say they studied with so-and-so, so it isn't just "natural talent" but a lot of hard work. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

I was visiting another painters blog and there it was a square in a rectangle!

April Jarocka said...

This post has been most informative and will help me hugely in my new series of Pre-Raphaelite paintings. Thank you.

silvio silvestri said...

The first two pics are not loading. Silvio

Peggy Kingsbury said...

In addition to your wonderful "lessons", you make me laugh out loud!

T Arthur Smith said...

Which Enneking is that, John Joseph, or Joseph Eliot?

Great post, thanks.

Susan McCullough said...

I am going to have to actively try this-- I've always been kind of a power spot type of girl...

Deb said...

This is pretty cool. I even found this in one of my own paintings after reading this post. Obviously, you know your stuff. You are smarter than you look! (or something like that)

billspaintingmn said...

Stape! I'm going to try this. It has a pleasent, intro to it. Sort of like a stage. Thanks for all of this, you really are helping us.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Jussi:
Thank you.
.............Stape

Stapleton Kearns said...

Karla:
Thank you. The square in a circle thing is basic but I am trying to cover everything I can think of.
.........Stape

Stapleton Kearns said...

April:
Good luck with those. If Raphael shows up, quit.
.............Stape

Stapleton Kearns said...

Silvio:
They are on my screen. I wonder if that is true for anyone else.
...........Stape

Stapleton Kearns said...

peggy:
Thank you.
.................Stape

Stapleton Kearns said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stapleton Kearns said...

T;
John J. Enneking.
...............Stape

Stapleton Kearns said...

Susan:
Power spot design can get too predictable sometimes. I try to use other methods as much as I can.
.........Stape

Stapleton Kearns said...

Deb:
I am saner than I look, I think.
............Stape

Stapleton Kearns said...

Bill;
A design with a vestibule.
..........Stape

Cynthia said...

Jeez Louise! I didn't realize it until I read this, but I've been doing it too. The square within the rectangle. Oh great teacher, is there something within us that leads us to these time honored methods of composition or are we simply subconscious copycats?