Saturday, April 9, 2011

Some observations on the design of an Inness

image from

The dark foreground makes the middle ground seem bright and gets you out into the image.
The horizon is an example of Inness setting the horizon at a mid value. I spoke about that last night.The greens in the painting are offset by the russet tones Iness used in the tree on the right.

Below is a diagram of the general movement implied in the painting.

Over and over Inness places light shapes in front of dark ones and vice versa, I have referred to this as value stacking for lack of a better name. Notice how he has done that with the limbs of the tree at the upper right and the little white tree trunk enlivening the passage of dark at three o'clock.

Notice the cool little trick Inness has used above. He has echoed the odd shape of a tree top in the clouds next to it.

Here is another cool little move, notice how Inness cuts a hole through the large mass of the trees on both sides. There is a concealed symmetry there. None of this happened in some actual view that he copied in front of him, all of this is invented in the studio.

Here is another one of those deliberately resonant shapes he throws into his paintings. The relationships of these echoing shapes are pleasing to the viewer even if they are unnoticed at a conscious level.

Here is the painting simplified in photoshop to it's big lights and darks. As I have pointed out so many times there is really one big dark. If you put your finger on the darks you will find you can trace them all the way around the painting without lifting your finger. This is value simplification.

On the right you see the image with all of the bright accents removed. You can see what they do to enliven the painting. The accents make this painting pop. They also balance he painting by arresting the eye briefly here and there and give interest to areas that would otherwise be too plain.


Walter L. Mosley said...

Thanks for your great insight and instruction.

Philip Koch said...

Wonderful break down of this powerful oil by Inness!
I'll be sending Stape roses this afternoon.

This particular Inness has always been one of my very favorite. It's a seemingly modest composition yet it's deeply expressive. Many years ago at a real low point in my life it really bouyed my spirits (I had just left the supportive arms of my grad school painting program and gone to teach at a very avant garde art department at Central Washington University). I found a good reproduction of this Inness and copied it carefully and lovingly. It was like talking to an old and wise friend.

Lucy said...

Your analysis reveals new surprises about Inness' painting. I never noticed the repeat of the tree shapes in the clouds.! Toward the end of his life his paintings became completely abstract and internal.
A great book is Life, Art and Letters of George Inness by George Inness Jr, his son.
It gives great insight into Inness working methods.
I guess he was a bit crazy, too. But who said that's a bad thing if you are an artist?

hneily said...

Thanks for posting this painting.
The way Inness arranged his lights and darks in a contrasting manner makes sense in this painting because he has sun breaking through the clouds at whatever points he wants an accent ,a light or shadow note. That has allowed him to mass together shapes in color and contrast that would not appear the same way on a totally sunny or cloudy day painting. Even on a sunny day I have occasionally stuck in a cloud shadow or a embellished a cast shadow in the forground to create depth or contrast in a painting. Hilda Neily

Brady said...

I'm envious of both you and Mr. Innes.

First of all I'm envious of you because you can see these things that take a post like this for me to see them.

And second for Mr's Innes ability to paint, or think of them in the first place.

Posts that open my eyes are why I love your blog!

Stapleton Kearns said...

You are welcome. Hope you are well.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Roses make me itch, send cigars.

Stapleton Kearns said...

You can stick cloud shadows in almost anywhere.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I love all the periods of his work but I guess I like the middle period best.I have a book on the late period but the repros are fuzzy.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I am envious of Inness and worried about being me.