Sunday, May 2, 2010

Design systems

Job and his daughters By William Blake courtesy of

The last several posts have been about design. I suppose that is what I am most qualified to write about. I have written many posts on the subject, but I am going to open another series of posts on that. I want to talk some about design systems.

There are a number of mathematical and geometrical systems to design and I will explore a few of those in the coming days. I don't use them, but I do know something about them. Perhaps they will be useful to you.

However tonight I want to talk about the just a little about the approach I favor. There are many posts on design in the archives, and if you are interested in exploring them you can click on design in the sidebar and more will appear than anyone has any reasonable use for. Here are some of the ideas that are the underpinnings of how I work as opposed to more mechanical systems. They are philosophical ideas.

  • The root of design is simplification. The first and most important idea in design is seizing on the essential and eliminating the extraneous. Just purging a painting of the inessential makes the artist break from meticulously copying nature and begin to arrange his art.
  • The second theme is eye control, that is how the viewer is lead through the painting. This continues the idea of arranging rather than "finding" or recording his arrangements.
  • The next large ideas is presenting varied shapes. Ideally every shape in a painting would be as different as possible from every other shape. This maximizes the variety of shapes, and makes a painting more interesting. It takes longer to perceive. Good shapes must be installed in a painting rather than observed.They are synthetic.
  • Rhythm is an important element of design. Here is a sample post on that. There are many more.
  • There are a number of authors who have written about these ideas and I will begin tomorrow to list a few. But this is all a leadup to the mathematical and geometric systems which constitute the other means of approaching this problem. More tomorrow on this.


Philip Koch said...

I hope the last two days posts and resulting comments were good- I don't know as I was too creeped out by the painting of those poor figures being burned. Maybe now you'll return to some gentle and uplifting
illustrations like Damien Hirst sliced animals. said...

I am a design driven painter for sure. Simplification is one of my favorite painting games to play.I often try to distill a single plane in an object to the one perfect color and value. Sometimes I win, sometimes I loose but the practice is invaluable.

However, it's takes a lot of will power to do that when faced with the complexity of the natural landscape. Alex Katz takes it too far in his landscapes and I don't take it far enough yet.

You've got a great and concise summary of design in 2-D here. I look forward to the remainder of the post.I know that many good and great artists do use geometrical systems (or rules). I acknowledge them but then...
I'm more "Jazz" than "Classical". Take's only paint.

billspaintingmn said...

Stape! I might be bass-akwards on this, but I will start with an idea
or ruff sketch.
I may cut it up and rearange things, to develope it. I try to keep to the inital idea though.
The more simple the more succesful
(I feel)
Lately with the daily painting stuff, I haven't spent much time designing, I just put down paint, and try to keep my time short.
(which is fun! However If I want to compose something, and I do, I will need to spend more time)
And with your guidence, along with others, I might do so!

willek said...

I really have trouble putting down 3 similar whatevers: Skyholes, clumps of grass sismilar branches along the same length of limb, Cloud puffs. But the good news is that I am getting better at seeing it in the work of others. So maybe I can do the sa me with my own stuff. It really is a mark of amateurism.

Say! That might be a good subject for a blog... "Marks of Amateurishness."
to be backed up with a "Marks of Prefessionalism"

Stapleton Kearns said...

I do need to show those nice animals don't I.

Stapleton Kearns said...

How did Alex Katz get back in here?
Simplification is the root of design in paintings.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I think daily painting is great but I believe the units themselves should be more ambitious.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Think mama bear, baby bear and papa bear when you are dealing with multiple items,to get them to be of varied areas.
That's a good suggestion for a post!