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

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Visual Challenge

What do these paintings have in common?

Karen Jurick

Clyde Aspevig

Richard Schmid

Jennifer McChristian

Colin Page

Edward Hopper

Every single composition principle and composing scheme in existence is derived from either patterns in nature, from laws of physics or from how our eyes work.

The beauty of past artists' having discovered and verbalized these principles is that today we can study them and learn how to use them in a brief time, especially compared to the centuries it has taken to understand and explain them.  More exciting than that is how each of them can be utilized in so many ways, many of those still being discovered today.

So have you found what the paintings above have in common?

The answer is converging lines.

This composing scheme is in essence one-point perspective.  Italian Renaissance architect Filippo Brunelleschi is credited with discovering that when we're looking at parallel lines, our eyes make those lines converge to a single vanishing point.  What's amazing is that this scientific fact is also an artistic principle.

By exercising this principle onto a two-dimensional surface, we create the illusion of seeing into three-dimensional space.

Whether painting people or an interior or the outdoors, artists use this principle to add the dynamics of distance and movement in space.

Karen Jurick uses it in this painting to show the depth of a room and to show the distance between the couple on the right and the individual on the left.  And the lines' converging outside the paintings gives us the sense that there is a continuation of something beyond the painting itself.

Clyde Aspevig shows a similar continuation beyond the painting with the same method.

Colin Page, Jennifer McChristian and Richard Schmid each use the covergence to keep the viewer inside the painting, each showing a different variation on where the lines come together, therefore each placing the viewer in a slightly different vantage point.  Whether the vanishing point is place inside or outside the painting,  we have the illusion of being in a three-dimensional space.  

Like Aspevig and Jurick, Edward Hopper's lines converge outside the painting,  He made a choice to place the viewer slightly to the left of the sitting man rather than peer directly at him head-on, giving a feeling of his sitting on a walkway that goes outside the painting.

Using converging lines gives both order and dynamics to a painting:  order in that shapes are aligned rather than being randomly placed and dynamics in that converging lines keep the eye moving.  Keeping this in mind, the artist need not be bothered with having to memorize rules of perspective.

Note:  My pre-Christmas auction of little paintings has now begun with two paintings.

  You can bid on "After the Rain" HERE

and/or on "Downtown Tate City" HERE.


Anamaria said...

You are a wonderful teacher, Dianne! I always learn from your posts, and this one is specially useful for me.
Thanks so much. Wish you a great weekend

Dianne Mize said...

Thank you Anamaria. It delights me to know these tutorials are helpful.