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Posts Tagged ‘rhythm’

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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Bike2
Kandinsky would have liked this painting.

As with music, rhythm is an important element in visual art. In this painting by Arlene Tarpey, we see the repetition of circular and elliptical shapes. There are three patterns: the literal statement of bicycle wheels, the row on top of distinct circles, and the row at the bottom of ellipses in a blur. Your eye goes round and round, but, because of the variations in the pattern, never gets bored. It’s hard not to get entranced. The composition as a whole sweeps the attention upward, to the upper right corner because that’s where the human figure is—always a trump card in any visual work—and also because of the small red collage, way in the corner. What is that? Can’t tell, it’s too small and it’s just a scrap. But we can make out that it shows the rhythm of a set of vertical lines. Voila, a reinforcement of the work’s theme, this time in counterpoint: linear vs. circular. If this little red patch had circles in it, that wouldn’t work, would be boring, too much of the same. The black vertical lines echo the rhythm motif and at the same time provide counterpoint.
Arlene Tarpey, mixed media (acrylic, pastel, collage on paper), ~16″x20″

Now let’s flip it horizontally (in Photoshop).

Bike2flipOooo, totally different feeling!  In which version is she going faster?  When she’s going towards the left or to the right?

Kandinsky didn’t talk about this left-right business and I don’t know what the musical analogy for the left-right flip would be.  But in image making, left and right are weighty issues, as you can see from this example. 

All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.
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13AnatomyYesterday was the ninth of twelve classes in this fall term.  We had been working on all sorts of topics:  drapery, still life, shading, three-dimensionality, hands, faces, contrapposto, composition, upside-down drawing, the works.  All difficult issues.  Why not add more difficulty, I thought, and give them the difficulty of choosing what to work from.  I set up a still life and brought in images of faces & hands to struggle with.  And then one more thing:  pages from Barcsay’s anatomy book.  To my surprise, most of the class went for the challenges of anatomy.  It’s the driest of topics, but there they were, eagerly gathering around the table where the xerox copies of the muscles and bones were spread out.

You get a work out when you try to draw all these muscles in their right place. It’s an accomplishment in itself and a valuable exercise that helps you draw more loosely and with more confidence when you face the live mode.

When the anatomical studies are placed on the same page, crammed together and made to partially overlap, the result is greater than the sum of its parts.  The page (above, by Gaby Edgerton) is clearly about studying anatomy, but the rhythm created by these dense forms nudges the composition out of mere academia and into the category “art.”

13BarcsayMusclesJenö Barcsay’s (1900-1988) anatomy book has been around for about forty years.  I like to use it in class, because the illustrations lack flair and heroism.  It’s actually a little boring (just the facts, ma’m)   and that spurs a more advanced student on to invent a way of drawing and a way of putting the body parts on the page that perks us up because it feels a lot like art.  Killing two birds with one femur.

(There’s some glare on the photo of Gaby’s drawing because I use a little instant camera in a room with rows of ceiling lights.)

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

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13AleLilaDrawing

It must be a resort.  The chairs are standing randomly on sand.  She’s elegantly but casually dressed and she’s enjoying 13AleLilaPhotothe sunshine.

The drawing derived from this old family photo could have been more representational.  The artist/student, Alejandra Podesta, certainly has the skill to work out the anatomy and the perspective problems.  But she chooses not to go that academic route and, as a result, produces a fine, expressive drawing. The drawing seems to breathe and reflects the grace and ease of the woman in the photo: notice how “open” it is (pink circles) and how the arched chair forms repeat and create a graceful 13AleLilaDrawingMarkedrhythm (green lines).  The discontinuity of the lines  or “openness” creates just enough ambiguity to invite us into the composition to complete the thought of each (circled) passage. We don’t need any more information.  More specificity would rob the drawing of its expressiveness, which I, for one, feel conveyed in the discontinuity of the lines and the rhythm of the arches.

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

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