Thursday, May 19, 2011




Here is a question I got in the comments today;
"I'm a little confused Stape. You say the painting goes down (which I can see), but then you say that you want your paintings to go up - which the painting does actually do - it goes up to the right. If it is going down to the left, it is going up to the right. Isn't that what you said you want your paintings to do?"

Look at the example above also from the Nevelson master and the example from yesterday below. The lines and forms in the painting above, carry your eye up and to the right. The lines and the forms in the example below carry your eye down and to the left.

Part of the expression of sentiment in a landscape design is conveyed by the direction of the lines and forms. A painting can be designed or arranged in such a way as to be either full of spring, or sagging lines. Sagging lines are somber or even tragic. Springy lyrical lines are UPBEAT. Lines can be rhythmical or quiet, jagged or calm. The quality of the lines is decided by the artist.

There is another option, not to decide. Generally a photograph has whatever kind of lines were in front of it, some having one nature and the others, another. When I copy a photograph or studiously imitate nature with the greatest care, I often get a result which is arrhythmic. The lines aren't designed particularly, they just describe the objects in the view. In order to have my lines convey a mood, I must make them do so. I will be unable to observe this ordered scheme into a painting, this must be installed. This is bending the appearance of nature to suit your design ends. Gee, I hope that clarified it for you.

Here are a few more biographical notes on the rediscovery tyro painter Dirk Van Assaerts;

With a ravenous wife and big debts for education, mortgage and carriage, Dirk was motivated to work very hard at his master painter job in the conformity district daycare center. Being young and relatively quick compared to the other tongue swallowers at the center, Dirk naturally excelled in his work. He was promoted after several years and became an administrative director, overseeing a cadre of young art school graduates teaching three year olds how to paint. Because the daycare ministry was growing and had an important mission, they lobbied for and got "right to creativity knows no age barrier legislation". The District General stated in a well received speech before the Assembly of Compulsion "if we train all of our children to be artists in only a generation all adults will be artists too!". Dozens of able administrators were needed to run the massive program.

With a little more income from his promotion the little family flourished. Dirk named his second daughter, Flexibility, after one of the seven virtues. All of this working and reproducing didn't stop Dirk from painting, oh, no! Every weekend and occasionally after work (when he had the strength left) he would paint on location in the Dutch country side. But some weekends he had to work on the house, and worse than that, some weekends his wife insisted that "as a family it was important to go to the lake or visit her parents in Elitesberg". Her family had provided lots of potatoes for Dirks young family and they deserved to see their grand children at least every other weekend didn't they? Dirk found the time he formerly had to paint was rapidly being wasted on his family.


Unknown said...

whew... all better now.

Susan Hogan Girard said...

Lines although suttle are major to the results. We study color, masses, and values. Lines are talked about in these ways above. I really like how you seperate LINES to be even more important than the rest. That is the creative part and creativity is the key. This is one of those ah ha moments for me. Thanks Stape

Libby Fife said...

I confess that I am now treating this as a soap opera and am starting to feel a little empathy with Dirk's situation. I had also read somewhere that Dirk fathered a child out of wedlock and named her Apathy...

Lucy said...

This concept of "uplifting" lines was seminal to Seurat's late work and he wrote about it. He gave all those circus performers hairdos shaped like smiles. A bit bizarre! It's in "Seurat and the Science of Painting" if you can slog through the book.

Back to the downward slope, sometimes adding an element (hill or clouds) sloping in the opposite direction can bring the eye back up. Then you get into total invention which can be tricky territory. said...

For one such as me...who does not do landscapes yet. I am finding this all very interesting...potatoes for thought. Hmmm.

Karla said...

Great lessons! I may be a little late to the party, but are you making all of this up about Dirk Van Assaerts?

willek said...

Terrific pair of posts, Stape... All clear!!

Is Dirk a thinly disguised person that you know? it.... Me?!!!!

Stephanie Berry said...

Good post--I'm with Libby--hooked on the trials and tribulations of Dirk. I recently faithfully copied a nature scene only to realize it had a "smiley face" smile smack in the middle of my painting. I don't want any of my paintings that uplifting so had to edit it.

Steve Baker said...

OK, so maybe I'm just clueless but the Right one is drastically more sloped than the Wrong one. What distinguishes up from down seems to be the sign. What am I missing here. Do I need to add signs to my paintings?

stapeliad said...

Stape, that first one makes me feel windblown. (I am a petite person, so "uplifted" in heavy wind might well be accurate) But I get the emphasis.

Seriously, this is wonderful information, the kind that separates good from great. Thank you again.

Poppy Balser said...

Stape, thanks for the clarification. I finally get it. I had to put the images side by side on my screen so I could directly compare, but having done so I see the difference. If you were designing your own painting of this scene, (assuming that the scene is still there, 300 years after Heer Van Assearts painted it) would you balance the overwhelmingly upbeat lines with a subtle line or two running opposite? Just a hint of a diagonal line going the other way?

Stapleton Kearns said...

Sorry to answer so late. Writing these Encyclopedia posts is real time consuming.

Stapleton Kearns said...

It could be lines and forms. Both are directional.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Don't know about that one. The next tow are twins which he didn't bother to name.The innominate twins.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I pay little attention to Seurat, just doesn't interest me much.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Potaotes indeed.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Yes, the story is fiction.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Dirk is an everyman figure.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Stephanie Berry
A post on that is coming, unwanted little gremlins.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Steve Baker;
Hang on, let me reload!Another image coming.

Stapleton Kearns said...


I am windblown, naturally.Tousled, cigarish and tweedy.

Stapleton Kearns said...

An uplifting painting need not have every line going the same way they can be moderateness or intersected by an infinite number of accents and counterpoints.But they must be subordinate or supporting so that it remains an uplifting design, if that is what you intend to make.