Saturday, July 31, 2010

Circular logic

Franz Bishoff
I apologize to to all of you who commented yesterday and didn't get a reply from me. I was writing the post very late and I collapsed. Its a long story. One of you from the Rockport Demo asked me about the guitar player I was recommending so highly.That was Johnny A here is a link where you can hear him play. What a magnificent player. Those of you who don't rock, can go back to sleep.

Here is an example of a circular composition. I have been talking about designs and said this;
What I meant was that design is a human construction and can not be copied from nature. You use decision making to add it to your painting. Design is a decision making and not a transcription process. No matter how carefully you copy that which is before you, you won't end up with a designed painting. Design is a construct, a geometric armature upon which you build your painting. I think I will show some examples for a while here. The most important thing I want to teach on this blog, design. Not just how-to, but you-should. You can learn to draw accurately, in fact that is essential. But it is not enough to make a picturemaker of you, only a journalist.

Circular compositions work well in square canvases. The square almost makes the design happen on it's own. Many painters who have worked on square canvases have used circular designs routinely. Above is the Edgar Payne, and below is the same picture with the circular design indicated.
It is customary to call this a circular design, but in my own work, I think of it as a whirlpool or a vortex. I like to try and spin them around a few times before the escape. I have painted a lot of 26 by 29 paintings and almost all of them have been vortexes. It is a powerful and sometimes almost violent way to set up a painting. A well worked out vortex painting is to my mind the most arresting composition. Below is a Waugh.

And here is a diagram of its design.

Tomorrow, I believe I will write about the group mass composition.


DJ said...

Nothing makes me crazier than to see an artist plop one thing in the exact middle of the page and call it done...then, they wonder why they can't resolve the background...
I tell them: there's no room for the story. Move that thing over, and you have room for the story. As is, your viewer simply id's your object and moves on. Don't you want them to stay & look (and buy) a while?
Love the word, "vortex" btw...

Doug Williams said...

Besides providing a good illustration of your circular design theme, the Waugh shows a composition that avoids use of boring, repetitive, or symmetrical shapes. It also shows the use of hard and soft edges, especially the use of soft edges on the windward side of the waves. Thanks for helping us to see... Be well. said...

All design rules can be broken if they are done:
In the right way
At the right time
For the right reasons.
It's Very Zen

Karla said...

Just saw a quote that supports your comments on design. "The painter should not paint what he sees, but what will be seen."-Paul Klee

Bill said...

A good book on composition: Arthur Wesley Dow: Composition: a series of exercises in art structure for the use of students and teachers

Susan McCullough said...

Very nice post Stape. I just love it when you talk about design. What other designs work well within the square canvas- just the circular? Does a large triangle shape work well too?

Dot Courson said...

Good post- as usual!
The Edgar Payne, Compositon of Outdoor Painting is a wonderful book for landscape painters. Available from some museums, but think I got mine through DeRus Fine Art Books, 9100 E. Artesia Boulevard, Bellflower, CA 90706. TEl: 562-920-1312. Around $50.

Todd Bonita said...

Great post...this is one of the few places to get sound design tips as they relate to landscape painting. Norman Rockwell used the circle quite a bit in his genre paintings...good sound design rule...I'm also with Marian Dioguardi on this one as well...all design rules can be broken if done right. It's really gotta be done right though. I think you can identify weak design as soon as you see it. I may not be able to intellectually identify where it went wrong all the time but you know it's off when you see it.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I am writing tomorrow on a schema that does plop everything in the middle effectively.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Waugh REALLY understood design.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I prefer to think of them as ideas rather than rules. I hate rules.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I wish I had said that.

Stapleton Kearns said...

He was from Ipswich Mass. Is that book still in print?

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thank you. I will address that in upcoming posts. Metcalf really showed how to arrange squares in every possible manner.

Stapleton Kearns said...

The Payne book is on the short list of essential reads for landscape painters.

Stapleton Kearns said...

You all keep calling them rules. Lets call then wisdom. If they were rules I would be unhappy.

Bill said...

Stapleton: Dow is available on Amazon at a reasonable price, or you can read it for free on Google books (in two different editions), if you can stand reading a book on a computer. Payne appears to be out of print, I'm going to have to go to interlibrary loan.

Bill said...

Actually, Payne is available for $48.00:

Jo-Ann Sanborn said...

Oh, God, that Waugh is gorgeous!