Welcome to Compose. There's lots of stuff here, all about composing paintings.

Current entries appear in Dianne's weekly newsletter.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Limits Or An Open Door?

There are no limitations except those we impose.  No form or pattern any artist selects need be confining, rather a glue that holds the piece together.  Today's doctrine that yesterday's pattern inhibits creativity is flat out wrong:  an artistic structure is a scheme, a path the artist chooses to enable an explosion of expression while keeping it unified.  The notion of breaking out of the box misleads us.

One structure I keep revisiting, one visual pattern that continues to lure my attention is the notan,  a simplified arrangement of two major shapes found in the overall collection of lights and darks.
Original photo of Herefords in pasture.

Notan study of original photo.  Notice how each inherent set of lights and the darks link together into one connected shape creating a pattern.  While discovering this pattern, I deleted the frontal trees because they divided the composition.

"Sautee Herefords"   oil painting based on the notan pattern
Notan exists as a concept invented somewhere in time and then given a name.  Today I use it as a guide for discovering light and dark patterns in nature.  It is that discovery that I use as the unifying adhesive of a painting.  Confident the notan will hold it together, I'm free to discover and explore all sorts fun stuff.

Chopin did that with the mazurka,--another concept invented and named somewhere in time--as pattern for at least 58 of his compositions.  And Shakespeare used the sonnet pattern--same process, different mode--exploiting it to spout forth more than 150 poems.  (See last week's post.)

Neither notan nor mazurka nor sonnet is a restriction, rather each is a container within which we can discover unlimited possibilities.  We need only to be alert.


Casey Klahn said...

I learned something I didn't know about the notan - the two part aspect.

Agreed about time and art.

irregular said...

Yes it's easier to make one or two notans than remove paint from to start anew

Marilyn said...

I just visited this site and love it. I like the way you compare art and music It makes me think. My husband taught music theory and conducted symphanies.

I particularly enjoy your introductions ! Marilyn Waite