Posts Tagged ‘concave’


In this painting the red squares are in the foreground.  They appear to float on top of a background of various colors, where the blue mass reads as an integral shape and therefore dominates the other areas of this background.

At its right border (1), the blue is convex, meaning it curves outward, creating the feeling that it is pushing outward to the right. This dynamic is emphasized by the sliver of white (2) which is being worn thin by blue’s intrusion.  The white is concave. It’s a dart or arrow pointing to the right.


Stop, you may say at this point. This a colorful painting, I like it, that’s enough. You’re over-thinking this thing. These blotches of color are not going, pushing or invading anything.  They’re just sitting there.

True.  The PAINT is sitting there.  But the PAINTING is not a physical object; it’s an event in the mind.  The power of abstraction is that even though there is no identifiable object depicted in an activity, the viewer of the painting will EXPERIENCE an activity.  A drama, really, full of tension, aggression, pushing and pulling…and resolution.

We perceive the red squares as floating on top of everything because they have clear edges that do not bleed into the background anywhere; plus, there’s a suggestion of a horizon line at (3).  The painting creates the illusion of spatial depth. It teases you into thinking “landscape.”

Since the red squares are not distributed evenly, we get the sensation that they are drifting from one side of the “landscape” to the other.  From left to right? Or from right to left? My sense is that they are blowing to the right.  Try it.

The drifting reds are not round. Imagine them as red dots and the painting becomes a circus.  Imagine them petal shaped and it becomes sentimental. No-no.  The reds have to be angular to add frisson.  Your mind likes edginess.  Keeps you alert and on your toes.

Why would anybody go to the trouble of analyzing a painting at this length, you may say.  Maybe somebody needs to get out more, has too much time on her hands.  Ha,ha. I’m merely taking the time to articulate what is going on in your mind when you’re standing in front of a painting that grabs you.  At museums I often hear one person say to her companion, I like that.  Well, I’m curious why.  Someone will look at a painting for a long time.  Why?  Well, I’m suggestion they’re swept up by the drama.  The drama is in the mind.

Painting by Jane Donaldson, ~30″ x 40″

Oh, and by the way, if you flip  the painting, the drama changes…errrm, dramatically.


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





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In this table full of drapery, pottery, apples, spheres and the mighty amaryllis (see previous two posts) there was a well-lit part with a red sphere and some zig-zag drapery.  Gabrielle E. chose this passage, outlined in green, at right.

Her drawing shows powerful compositional elements.

1) The sphere at #3 is in the middle and threatens to dominate the whole page, simply because it’s a perfect circle, the most focused geometrical shape we have.  It has only one dimension and traps the eye in its centripetal force. Notice that the artist does not outline it with a continuous line and does not overstate the shading, thereby allowing the eye to escape to other parts of the drawing.

2) The almighty sphere finds its comeuppance in the zig-zag at #2.  The zig-zag, I would argue, holds its own even next to a sphere.  Wow, here we have a pile of stuff that, to the non-artist, must surely look boring, with the juxtaposition of these two dynamite shapes.  Notice, that the zig-zag is clearly, emphatically drawn.

3) Both the sphere and the zig-zag are highlighted by the empty space at #1.  This is a concave form, pushing upward…to the sphere.

4) The last stage of the drawing was putting in #4.  The area at #5 was faintly sketched in and the drawing didn’t know where to go next.  The bottom, with sphere, zig-zag and concave space, was so powerful, that it needed some upward swing.  The bowl in the still life set up on the table was way up and the drawing paper didn’t have that kind of space.  You know, the wonderful thing about drapery is that you can fudge it.  The artist summoned her courage and simply brought the bowl down, along with a bit of triangular drapery.

Now, back to the sphere.  The sphere is the star of the show, but it doesn’t swagger, glitter or make an acceptance speech.  On the bottom of the drawing, it gets the fanfare from the zig-zag and the concave space.  But now, with the bowl at #4 it has an echo because the bowl it also round, only an ellipse, but still in the round family.  The eye, therefore goes back and forth between these two round forms.  For a while…and then we’re back in the force field of zig-zag and concave.  And on and on.  You just want to look at this thing.

By the way, this is a no-fault drawing, done in china marker on fairly high paper (meaning textured)—no erasing possible, no corrections of any kind.  A bravura performance!!

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




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