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Archive for the ‘Roundness’ Category

How can something so wrong be so right?

Because you enjoy looking at this drawing you may not immediately see that the shadows are all wrong. How are the shadows wrong?  Can those horizontal scratches even be called shadows?  No, they’re not shadows in the sense that they help define the roundness of the figures.  Yes, they evoke the idea of a shadow.

When you’re looking at this, the “shadows” trigger in your mind the association to three-dimensionality and that’s so satisfying to you that you don’t look more critically.  You don’t even want to look critically because your mind is seduced by the rhythm of the composition.  Those “shadows” emphasize the rhythm. Rhythm in any work of art is hypnotic.  Your mind likes the hypnotic state.

Compare the above, second, drawing of this motif to the artist’s first version.  Your mind is now functioning differently.  It’s now

examining the figures for literal accuracy.  A drawing tells you how it wants to be looked at.  This drawing wants to be looked at as an illustration.

Now go back to the “shadows” version and you’ll notice that your mind has just switched to a different mode.  Your expectations are different. You’re not looking for an illustration of anatomy here. Instead you’re struck by the total effect.  You’re not analyzing, you’re experiencing the whole.  You’re having an aesthetic experience.

Drawings by Jeanne Mueller

The photo we worked with was taken from a book of old photos called “The Way We Were.”

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

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https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2017/05/24/a-good-pout-and-strong-shadows/https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2017/01/28/scribble-for-life/https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2016/10/08/how-it-sits-on-the-page/https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2016/10/02/drawing-sculpture/https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2016/09/30/ptolemy-in-ulm/https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2016/08/18/take-the-a-frame/https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2016/07/29/vanitas-flip/

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notblackwhite

Working with a center line, whether vertical or horizontal, challenges the painter. How do you prevent this thing from becoming static?  How do you overcome the invitation to symmetry? How to you create movement?

In this painting the challenge is heightened by the choice of black vs. white. Now look what happens at the dividing line between the two fields. At (2) a large round shape that straddles both fields attracts your attention by virtue of its size, circularity and texture—it’s glued on burlap.  At (1) and (3) lines cross the divide.  These are powerful because the eye finds lines irresistible and traces them wherever they lead.notblackwhiteanalysis

The blue line at (3) gracefully sweeps upward towards the right.  At the light red dot (4) it traces an orbital path.  Because the red rectangles at (6) suggest a stable architectural element (perhaps a window), they add a rational anchor to a universe in which amorphous planes float randomly.  At the same time the red dot perches precariously on one corner (4).  This becomes the focal point of the painting, deeply satisfying and at the same time restless.

But wait, there’s a twist in the plot.  When the artist submitted the painting to the Studio Exhibit she reversed it.  Notice that the focal point in this new orientation is one of those amorphous shapes (5). The effect is edgy.

notblackwhiteshow We are deprived of the satisfaction we found previously in the red dot perched on the corner of the red rectangles. In this orientation, the red dot and the red rectangles are resting on the bottom edge, not going anywhere. They’ve settled, they lack drama.

It’s a brilliant painting.  Buy it.  Hang it, not over your couch, but in front of it. Sit.  Look at it in one orientation, then next week turn it over and look again.  Allow yourself to be unsettled. Get to know your perceptual quirkiness.

The Studio Exhibit at the Evanston Art Center will be up til January 29.

Terry Fohrman, Not Black and White.  Acrylic on canvas, 24” x 48”

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

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16septlargedrapepot

Draw a portion of the still life so that your drawing will have a definite shape on the page.  That was the assignment.  I brought in large 20160922_144208textured paper, 30” x 22”, and encouraged everyone to work in charcoal or very soft graphite.

Notice that the pot in reality is big.  Does it have to be drawn big? No.  The pot and the drapery should be drawn in such a way that they sit nicely on the page.  The artist adjusted the size of the pot so that it becomes part of the arc of the composition.

The arc could have been drawn as if floating in space, but the artist suggests some terra firma by putting in a line to indicate a table top.  Notice that the table top line is broken cezanne-sl-applesbehind the pot.  Cézanne plays this game in his paintings all the time. We’re not committed to documenting reality. The goal is to create a lively page.

Drawing by Jeanne Mueller, charcoal on paper, 30” x 22”

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

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loopholes

Picture this big, about 48” high.

If this painting were small, say about 12” high, the circles would look like bubbles and you might describe the painting as “cute” and “playful.”  A painting that’s bigger than you is never “cute.”

This painting by Cassandra Buccellato has a playful feeling, granted, but isn’t its play on a conceptual level?

The drips in the underpainting evoke chaos. Chaos is not a little mess, but a big solar system deal.  The circular windows impose order, not a rigid predictable order but some order, a wistful order as in “the best we can.”  The portholes we catch in this frame appear to be of an endless stream, drifting by.  I’m reminded of telescopes and the cans-o-worms they reveal: questions all the way down.

Mixed metaphors?  Well, yes, I’d rather contemplate this visually.

Painting by Cassandra Buccellato, oil on canvas, ~48” x 60”

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2015/10/19/3288/

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2015/03/27/finding-order-in-chaos/

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2015/03/26/order-interrupted/

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2013/04/09/beyond-realism/

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2011/06/22/naming-the-abstract/https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2011/03/12/willow-painting/

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

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Drapery_Study_for_a_Seated_Figure_c1470_Leonardo_da_Vinci

Leonardo was about eighteen when he made this study of drapery.  Doesn’t matter how old he was.  He was making drapery studies when he was forty-DraperyStudyLeonardoDetaileight, too.  It’s not something you master and then you’re done with it.  Drapery is mesmerizing, both for the artist working on it and for us, the viewers.  It draws you into a universe that envelopes you and at the same time feels utterly alien.

The Leonardo drawing activates your sense of touch, convincing you that you’re inhabiting a real world, as if you were feeling your way through a cave with a bizarre topography that nevertheless completely seduces your senses.

DraperyStudyLeonardoAnalysisYou can snap out of the trance, however.  And when you do, you’ll notice that some passages are unreal.  He just made some crinkles up—out of whole cloth, so to speak.  With your (momentarily) sober mind you can look at this passage, for example, (pink circle) and realize that cloth does not behave this way.

Leonardo lied.  He created this fiction. Why?  Because it’s fun to create fiction.  He creates the illusion of reality but he’s actually playing with form.

Look at Rogier van der Weyden, who’s about fifty years earlier than Leonardo.

Full title: The Magdalen Reading Artist: Rogier van der Weyden Date made: before 1438 Source: http://www.nationalgalleryimages.co.uk/ Contact: picture.library@nationalgallery.co.uk Copyright © The National Gallery, London

Are these green folds hammered out of aluminum?  You know very well, cloth does not drape, fold and crinkle this way.  Yet, here it is, captivating us, compelling us to its rhythms like a fierce drummer.  (Ha, I’m looking at 15th century drapery and thinking of Gene Krupa and Art Blakey.)

Drapery, in other words, is a wild thing.

Linné Dosé, whose love of form and composition lead to daring omissions in his choice of still life elements, came up with this cloth floating in space.  No table to rest on.  He apparently saw that shape, found it compelling and that was enough.

16AprilDrapery

Now, when you see this thing sitting there on the page, it harmonizes with the Drapery15%behavior of drapery, but it also becomes something in itself.  Your imagination kicks into the surreal.  What is this?  It looks like a critter, doesn’t it.  You’re now in that cave with Leonardo and Rogier.

Leonardo and Rogier worked for clients who were all-powerful and dictated the subject matter to be depicted.  The artist then set out to work as if he were saying, fine, I’ll give you your mythological characters, but I’ll go wild with the drapery. You can have your Magdalen, but the drapery is mine.

Leonardo da Vinci, 1452 – 1519

Rogier van der Weyden, 1400 – 1464

Linné Dosé, graphite on paper, ~12” x 18”

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2016/09/01/the-square/

20160428_155310

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

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16JanDotsTwo

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2016/08/25/black-dot-anthropocentrism/

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2016/08/29/untitled-ii-stretch/

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2016/08/29/untitled-iii-rack/

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2016/08/29/untitled-iv-asperatus-clouds/

https://artamaze.wordpress.com/2016/08/29/untitled-v-blue-rectangle/

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

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MunchAnalysis1This is the first stage of a painting.  Notice that it repeats the same V-shape over and over.

In the next stage, a black shape was added (1). For now, ignore  (2) and (3), which were put in  at the very end of the work process.

Munch copy

Notice that (1) repeats that V-shape.  When I saw the painting at this stage,  I said to the artist, “looks a little like a tree.”  A strange little tree, to be sure, with its sinuous trunk and just two short branches, but still, the shape says “treeness.”  Maybe a tree with its branches “reaching” up.  The word “reach” suggests a personification of the tree.

Personification is very tempting. The artist dipped his brush into the black paint again and deftly placed a dot between the “branches.”

MunchFinal

That small dot radically changed the game.  Try seeing that black shape as a tree now.  Impossible.  Try seeing it as something other than a woman with her arms raised.  Try harder.  Can’t be done.

Not only are you seeing a woman with her arms raised, but this shape and association now dominate the painting to such a degree that you feel compelled to interpret everything else in the painting in relation to it.  The tree dominated over all the other shapes and the puzzle at that stage  was how to fit it into the rest of the painting. But thanks to this little dot the black shape’s humanoid association will not allow your mind to wander away.  It’s absolute and absolutely uncanny.

This is what we do in art.  We look at how our mind and imagination work.

After this jaw-dropping black dot appeared, the artist tried to subvert the tyranny of that black humanoid shape by painting in a large yellow disk and a little white rectangle.  What does that do?  Well, now we have to acknowledge these also and fit them into some interpretation.  (1), (2) and (3) are now competing for our attention.   The humanoid can now more easily be seen as a shape among other shapes.  It’s a relief, isn’t it.  But the humanoid still dominates.  No way around it.  Were wired to zoom in on hints of our human shape, however sketchy, distorted or bizarre.

Painting by Bruce Boyer. Oil on Canvas, 30”x40”

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

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