New painting just finished titled On the Pier; this is the one I have been working on for over two years; the main dilemma was how to recreate the energy of the water without copying the photo or being realistic. I finally settled on the solution by the difference between value changes and using the palette knife.
As with the painting of the boardwalk cart pusher, this painting is meant to show movement across the picture plane. The needs of the painting outweigh the need for proportion and description. This means putting composition first. one of the consequences of putting composition first is that the standing are compressed vertically; but the fellow in the beach chair is elongated in comparison
The main lines were set out first: the pier floor is established on the bottom line tripartite canvas division (line #1) making the pier a stage but not as strong as lines created using the bipartite power lines; the distant shore and woods are established using the upper quarter-line of the bipartite canvas division (line #2); the three figures play off of this upper line.
The seated figure slumps into the half-third line (#3) on the right which is reinforced by the piling; his knees anchor to the line of the first third (#4); This line is reinforced by the second pier piling and the empty chair. The piling on the left sits directly on the one-third line and is the main anchor for the pier(line #5). The female figure’s ankle is secured to the center vertical (line #6) as she steps away from it moving to the left. the male figure’s back right foot is anchored on the left side’s one-fourth vertical (line # 7) as he steps to the left of the picture plan; his forward left foot steps onto the half-fourth vertical (line #8); his head is moving between these two verticals.
The Visual Dynamics of Related and Unrelated Shapes (Rectangles)
Each shape has its own dynamics: each shape has its own energies and arrangement of those energies; the rectangle is the classic shape in the visual arts. Two classical divisions of the rectangle are handed down to the artist; but to the modern artist, these are for the most part curiosities: interesting but no necessary in composing – or rather, spewing forth a painting – at best, they are recipes on how to lay in a picture: where to conveniently hang objects. The reality is that these systems are maps of the rectangle’s dynamics.
The eye will naturally divide a line in half: the mid-point; in a rectangle, this leads to the bipartite system. The eye also naturally divides a line into thirds leading us to the tripartite system. Interestingly the bipartite system includes the tripartite: the latter is a subset of the former.
Yet, what about the shape area in terms of its nature divide into sub areas? Does the area easily divide into fourths and thirds?
Is there a perceived relationship?
Is this too subtle to consciously register?
Does the eye grasp the relationships? Can the eye recognize a shape as based an original
Create a rectangle with each side easily divided by three
Enter the tripartite guidelines
Create rectangular shapes based on those divisions
Create an wholly unrelated rectangle having no proportional relationship with any of the rectangles or the master rectangle.
The eye does perceive the relationships: there is an harmony between shapes based on the initial rectangle;
The harmony and disharmony are immediately perceived. The red rectangle is perceived as out of harmony with the other rectangles.
Can compositions be created that play off the relatedness of different proportioned rectangles (or simply objects); for the eye is attracted to and tends to group by likeness.
[Edited 3/10/2017. This experiment was initially done as to understand why the eye quickly recognizes the misshapeness of a drawn human figure; but I have since come to understand that the mind has an internal sense of proportion. Yet, this is a possible way for the artist to create pleasing proportions of the human figure.]
I apologize for the delay in posting. The past few months have been consumed by clearing and moving out of the family home and moving to Greensboro, North Carolina. The studio – what there is – is still coming into shape; but the apartment is small and it is a humid August and poor air conditioning. That being said, the painting below was completed in May.
I originally meant this painting to be only a sketch; to be a quick study of creating the sense of movement across the rectangular field; at the time, I was bouncing off of Gerome’s “Duel after the Ball” wherein the artist used the grid of the rectangular force lines to create a stage and dramatic movement. Gerome played the tripartite canvas division against the bipartite: the former was the stage and the latter contained the action and interaction of the characters. Similarly in my painting, the background is placed within the context of the tripartite system and the characters and the jitney are laced within the bipartite system. The painting was to be done with think strokes of paint; but, I soon became concerned about the quality of the piece; and I also became more interested in how areas of color melded into related adjacent areas. Finally, I began to experiment is glazing in order to more intense colors.
As to the piece’s structure, the cart pusher initiates the movement. His back foot is planted on the vertical force line of the left (the bipartite system has three major lines dividing the rectangle into four sections). His forward foot crossed the leftward major dividing line of the tripartite system; and his head is just on the line. The pusher has set up the rightward movement. The back cart edge is released from the tripartite force line and comes under the influence of the center force line; the strength of this center line is increased as the back cart wheel is directly on the line as the head and torso of the female passenger. The forward struts of the cart’s cab come under the influence of the right side tripartite division line and, combined with the legs, increase the sensation of rightward movement. Because the eye seeks like relationships, the viewer’s eye is also cast back to the head and forward foot of the pusher. The forward section of the cart is elongated in order to increase the pull and release from the right hand force line on the quarter mark.
Overall, I think the painting achieved the initial goal of creating a sense of movement across the canvas.
In terms of glazing, I was able to increase my ability to predict how a color will change when overlaid by another. I was able to accurately predict the changes using the color mixing triangle.
The shadow under the cart was reworked four times in order to get a smooth transition from one color to the next. My initial thought was to use diagonal brush strokes as I applied the paint in order to recreate the planking of the boardwalk; but the result proved to be clumsy and distracting.