Thursday, October 21, 2010

Poster shapes

John Carlson in his Guide to Landscape painting talks about starting a painting with the big "poster shapes". In Carlsons day silkscreened and showcard posters were very common. They were in stores and posted as advertising every where. Here are a couple of posters from that era so you can see how they looked.

These posters were silk screened, a way of mass printing that was popular for graphics in those days. Silkscreen printing lends itself into large shapes of flat color. That is the look that Carlson was referring to when he spoke of the big poster shapes.

Below is first that poor painting again and below it, my posterized version.

When I designed this little painting I reduced the big shapes to a handful and bound them together in value groups. I minimized the different values with in their big shapes to unify them into larger areas of a nearly singular value. Essentially three big darks and a big light shape.
I have posted on etching before and will probably pick up on that thread again. The etchers, particularly those in the 19th century did this particularly well and I have studied them a lot to get ideas. The Japanese printmakers used this kind of arranging too. Here is one of those, by Hiroshige.

Arrangement of simple flat decorative shapes is a good way to organize and plot the design of a painting.


Mary Byrom said...

Nice post Stapleton. I love poster shapes. Every light and dark mass connects to your picture edge(the rectangle). No floating shapes.

Mary Sheehan Winn said...

Nice block in...looks like Provincetown to me.
I'm currently into value studies and I think I'll drag out Carlson's book.

Poppy Balser said...

This has been an extremely helpful post. I found it very enlightening to read Mary's observation about your dark shapes and the connectedness thereof. That is not something I remember encountering elsewhere in design considerations. So, once again, your blog gives me something new to consider and experiment with.

Keep it up, love the design stuff! said...

Ahhhh.......poster that I understand. Check.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Oh yeah, that too!

Stapleton Kearns said...

That is P-town. Get the Carlson out.

Stapleton Kearns said...

OK, I have another tonight. A grim film noir edge to the next one though.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Poster shapes, are good.