Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Simple dark and light armatures beneath paintings

Tonight I am going to talk about simple dark and light patterns underlying paintings. Often an artist will build a composition on a big simple light shape laid over a big simple dark, or the reverse of that. I have reduced a few paintings (albeit crudely, this blog is homemade) to show this idea. Above is an Emile Gruppe of Waterville, Vermont. This scene is incidentally still there pretty much unchanged

Here is the same scene with the darks exaggerated. Sometimes if you squint hard enough you can see a scene do this outside. However, usually the artist chooses to join up his darks into this kind if a simple pattern.

Below is a Brangwyn and below that I have simplified and exaggerated the darks to show the large dark shape that is laid onto a white field. This painting shows a lot of oriental influence. The big abstract shape is the subject of the painting more than a boat and some guys standing around in tubular pants. Brangwyn has "bent" the scene into an ornate cutout against a bright background. It is like an incredibly ornate paper doll silhouette cut out and placed on a white sheet of paper. This works particularly well in snow paintings and seascapes.

Here is our Mulhaupt again.

And below is the exaggerated version.

Notice that most of those darks are hooked up into a large decorative pattern. The artist did this deliberately, it is a treatment applied to the scene in nature before him.

Here is a Rubens. Below I have grayed out everything except the two struggling women. They are keyed above everything behind them and linked together to form a large writhing progesterone dripping, femininity pinwheel.

Incidentally, in my opinion, this was not done with a camera obscura. David Hockneys' theory fails in front of a painting so obviously constructed as this one.


DJ said...

Good job, Stape.
(If you squint at the exaggerated Brangwyn, there's a beautifully-constructed abstract.)
Love the Rubens. I agree; no camera obscura there. said...

I don't work much with "dark massing" but one of these days I've got to give it a try. Certainly make a landscape interesting.

Stapleton Kearns said...

All paintings are abstracts, some better than others, Some also have subject matter.

Stapleton Kearns said...

It can be done with objects in the studio too.

Kyle V Thomas said...

All paintings are abstracts, some better than others, Some also have subject matter.

I loved this quote. I had to share it on facebook(with proper credit given, of course)

When you're right, you're right. And you are right.