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Archive for August, 2012

I don’t want to be predictable, but if you’ve been following these posts, you know that whenever I get to talking about dynamics, tension and counterpoint in an image, the Lift-Right flip cannot be far behind.

Look at this. I flipped Linné’s original drawing, horizontally.   Isn’t this a funny image!

How can that be?! Same factual information.  Yet in the original (see previous post) the lone leaf sticking out of the margin looks mysterious and important.  Here in the flip, doesn’t it look ridiculous, clunky and contrived?  The bare stems in the original were energetic and full of promise, but here in the flip, they go nowhere, they seem to die on the page.  The peak in the horizon line is tired here, where in the original it feels up-beat.

I don’t theorize about this in class or give specific instructions. But we often play with cropping, i.e. placing strips of white paper over a finished drawing to see what happens.  That’s an important seeing exercise because it focuses on “what makes an image.”  These marvelous compositions in my students’ work come about because I encourage them to practice seeing  how elements on the drawing page relate to one another and the edge and the negative space they create, rather than just what they depict.

All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.

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The difference between an image and a snapshot documentation of an object is that the image triggers questions in your mind that go beyond the factual.  When you look at this drawing you don’t just say, I know the name of that plant.  Yes, it’s a variegated philodendron.  If documentation and naming were the point of this exercise, you would move on.  But you don’t.  You keep looking at this thing.  You don’t really know why.  It’s just that the image—that’s what it is—puzzles you, raises questions that you can’t even articulate.  So here you are, you keep looking.

  • You’ll never be able to answer the question of why that leaf at the lover left is sticking up out of nowhere.  But it’s perfect there.
  • Why is the horizon line that defines the black background on the top pointed instead of straight?  It was probably inspired by the corner of the room, though that was cluttered with easels.  It’s an invention of the artist/student and it’s just right.
  • Why did Linné draw the plant full of leaves on the left and bare-stemmed on the right?  He certainly didn’t see that.  Another invention.

All three inventions create tension and counterpoint.  The viewer is suspended (like a gymnast) by the ropes of these dynamics.  Questions will form in the mind, but their grammar will disintegrate.  That’s how art works.

All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.

www.khilden.com

http://facefame.wordpress.com

http://katherinehilden.wordpress.com

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