Friday, August 6, 2010

More thrusting forms

Above is a William Wendt, he was a California impressionist. I never feel quite accurate describing him, Payne or Hibbard as Impressionist with because they were really a generation later.They also had regionalist or American scene aesthetics too, but it is common do so.

Wendt had a neat way of reducing his forms into squared off shapes which was idiosyncratic and gave a blocky powerful look to his work. Below is the painting again, and I have marked it up a little.

This is pretty obvious but I will quickly describe the thrusting of the forms in bullets. Their purpose is to carry the eye through the painting. This is more commonly thought of as being done with line direction, but the idea is the same.
  • 1, thrusts powerfully upward.
  • 2, curves in front the right and feeds you into 1.
  • 3, feeds you upward toward 1.
  • 4, starts you into the painting and up to the greater thrusting forms that make this big pyramid work.
  • 5, carries you up and out the upper right hand corner. That is like solving the equation of direction he has established with the rest of his forms..
Here is a Waugh seascape. Waughs work is full of these thrusting forms. He used them all the time and they form a great deal of the power of his seas and the enduring resistance of his rocks to the oncoming breakers.

  • Waugh has used the foreground rock at 1, to drive the viewer deep into the scene.
  • 2 and 3, also channel us into the middle "punchline" area.
  • 4, the wave itself is thrusting inward from the right, entering the scene with great force.
  • 5, like 1 stands solidly ready to receive, unmoved, the force of the oncoming surf. Seascape painters routinely set up these two forces, the oncoming power of the wave and the the unyielding resistance of the shore.
Waugh has used his forms show the opposite natures of the sea and the rocks. He designed the both of them to reflect their nature and their roles as actors in his drama.

I often see contemporary landscape paintings that have static forms, rather than forms used to aid the feeling and power of the painting. Both of these paintings are dynamic and exciting largely as a result of their thrusting forms.


Bill said...

One thing that is difficult to grasp here on a little monitor is a sense of scale - any idea how large these paintings are? I'm guessing that they are medium-sized paintings.

jake gumbleton said...

wonderful post Stape!! I love your blog so much. Thanks for all the hard work you put into it.

Steve Baker said...

I have to thank you for once again shifting my focus to where it should have been. When I first saw the Wendt I immediately started to pick out the thrusts, the problem is I went straight to my usual way of seeing and looked at the edges of light and shadow to define those emphasis for me. While observing the edges of light and shadow does give the same eye movement through the painting looking at the larger shapes changes the speed the eye travels and provides a deeper understanding of what he had in mind.
Steve Baker

Philip Koch said...

I really like the Waugh oil you posted. Great asymmetry.
And although it's not directly related to your discussion of thrusts, the color gradation in that left foreground rock is beautifully handled. I'm impressed.

I'm pretty sure a whole bunch of Waugh paintings ended up in the permanent collection of the Ulrich Museum of Art in Wichita, KS, which is totally land-locked. It's an ironic resting place for them. Do you know the story behind how they ended up there?

Stapleton Kearns said...

They are mid sized as you suggest. I suppose if I were a scholar I would record and post dimensions on everything, but this blog is a bit home made.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thanks, it is a lot of work!

Stapleton Kearns said...

I guess that form thrust is line direction squared.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I do know that story and I will tell it. But I will wait until I get to Waugh. I have a lot of Waugh material and will spend a great deal of time on him when I get there.

Stapleton Kearns said...

To the guy who comments in Japanese,If I can't read your post, I delete it.Your comment may be very nice or it might be viscous slander, who knows? Please post in one of the romance languages.