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Old 05-21-2009, 05:37 PM   #241
John Reidy John Reidy is offline
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". . . an arrangement of visual elements."

M-m-m-m-m-m. Maybe I am simple minded but isn't this precisely what composition is?

As I appreciate and understand composition, especially in portraiture, there is a volume of information of smart and artistic composition styles. Sometimes the portrait can tell a story, which could be a theme of sorts but to make a distinction between compositional choices as to themed or unthemed and to relegate one to art and the other to something less is more of a view of the critic and not the art.

Thanks, Mike for your look back and for the cleverness that you always seem to be able to wrangle. Leave it to an Okie to tell it like Will Rogers.
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Old 05-22-2009, 01:21 AM   #242
Mike McCarty Mike McCarty is offline
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SB,

Critic Theodore F. Wolff wrote in 1989:

"There can be no doubt that Rockwell's production was uneven, that most of it was trivial, even, at times, embarrassingly hackneyed. He had a difficult time avoiding the obvious and overly sentimental: little boys were invariably freckled and gawky, had big ears, and loved baseball; little old ladies were kindly and loved nothing so much as to give cookies to children and to beam at evidence of young love. And everyone was God-fearing, patriotic, hardworking, and respectful of motherhood, apple pie, and the sanctity of marriage."

Overly sentimental? Not so much in his 1964 "Murder in Mississippi."

He had his critics, but probably not so much to his compositions.

Bloody critics!

Tom,

Quote:
conceit that comes from the mind of a wordsmith
... that's a good one, Tom.

Have you pondered the Cosmology, Gender and Aesthetic Imagination in your work?

"Defying the visual bias of art history, a number of artists and writers since the nineteenth century have concerned themselves with the possibility of engaging the proximity senses in art. In 1836, for example Theophile Thor
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Old 05-22-2009, 01:10 PM   #243
Tom Edgerton Tom Edgerton is offline
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Mike--

Oh yeah, Andrew the elder not Jamie the younger.

I think as much as anything for me, what makes the composition of your boots work is the abstract rhythm and placement of the darks. If this painting were posterized into two or three black/white/gray values (for fun and learning), we'd see that the ascending march of the darks from left to right makes it swing.

I've also heard the rule that there should be more space in the direction that somebody/ something is looking, but I've seen about a million examples where this isn't so and it works just fine...superbly in fact.

I once heard someone say, "I love deadlines...I like the swooshing sound they make when they fly by." I'd paraphrase by saying, "I love rules...I like the racket they make when they collapse."
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Old 01-19-2013, 09:14 AM   #244
Mike McCarty Mike McCarty is offline
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There is somewhere buried in this long thread a discussion on "The Golden Mean." James Gurney, of Dynotopia fame, recently discussed the topic on his blog in his usual thoughtful manner.

There are five parts to his discussion that he titles: "Mythbusting the Golden Mean." The first part is here: http://gurneyjourney.blogspot.com/20...an-part-1.html

The whole purpose of our thread here was to focus on composition and try and discover the "why and the how" of how things should be aranged.

Mr. Gurney conludes his discussion with this:

"Art cannot be reduced to any absolute formula. The golden conditions are situational, not preordained. A great creation pierces our hearts through an unexpected combination of factors. Beauty arrives in the night and hovers just outside our window, shifting and shimmering, floating just beyond the reach of our strings and calipers, unwilling to fit into any box we build for her."

Well said, Mr. James Gurney.
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Old 01-19-2013, 04:35 PM   #245
John Reidy John Reidy is offline
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I endorse and teach the concept of The Golden Ratio, The Golden Mean and the Golden Rectangle as a means to an end. I have found that many paintings tend to hold true to this concept. (I have also found many that don't). I believe it to be a good tool to have at your disposal. But, just as a carpenter has many tools, so must the artist. You just need to know what tool fits the job at hand.

Whether or not it was used by the Greeks is not important to me. What is important is the ability to design a good painting. A thorough understanding of this one concept is worth studying to learn all you can from it and then to know how and where to employ it.

As stated earlier in this thread, Composition is simply the arrangement of elements in a painting to please the eye. A good craftsman will use these elements to guide the viewer's eye throughout the painting and hold the attention and the focus of the viewer.

An interesting side note, I examined half a dozen or so paintings I had done before I had ever heard of The Golden Mean. I was surprised to see how easily all of them fit the design. This observation alone leads me to believe the merit of the theory.
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Old 01-20-2013, 03:48 PM   #246
Richard Budig Richard Budig is offline
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On page 88 of Andrew Loomis' book, Creative Illustration, he outlines some simple yet solid ideas about composition. If you have this book, review these pages, and then scroll through the images in this thread and you'll see these principles in most of them. Simple often gets the job done . . .

You can download his books, free, here: http://www.alexhays.com/loomis/
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Old 01-22-2013, 10:20 AM   #247
Tom Edgerton Tom Edgerton is offline
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I took a workshop in which the mantra was "tools, not rules." That's very useful to remember.

I speak of the Golden Section to my students, as it's just one of many explanations for why your eye might tend to go here and not there. But it's a principle, nothing more. I have a friend who also teaches, and he beats his students over the head with it beyond the point of usefulness. When you believe that a painting that honors the Golden Section is by definition better than one that doesn't, then that's where the discussion goes off the rails. There are many more factors that come into play. Mr. Loomis' discussion of tonal organization is a case in point (thanks, Richard! this is a HUGE link).

Very early in my career, I had the good fortune of having Daniel Greene look at one of my paintings for half a minute. When I queried him about whether I should have done a particular thing (a vignetted area), he said, "Probably not, but you got away with it." That's always stuck with me. Theory aside, a painting either works well or not.

We need a few hip-pocket principles to approach problems in the work. If you're going camping, don't forget your flashlight. But the point of going is to go someplace new and have fun. I think that's part of what Mike and Mr. Gurney are saying, and I agree.
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Old 01-22-2013, 10:53 AM   #248
Richard Budig Richard Budig is offline
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Tom . . .

I recall finding this tonal information from Loomis quite a few years ago, and as sometimes seems to happen, serendipity stepped in to help me see and understand what Loomis was saying. At about that same time, I registered on both the Christie's and Sotheby's art auction sites. When viewing the thumbnails of art for sale on these sites, I was suddenly struck with how clearly I could see the "Loomis Effect" as all these little thumbnails of painting sat there on my computer monitor. Having so many to see all at one time, I could see how the majority of them followed the ideas of having three or four values, especially in portraiture. Your mention of Dan Greene reminded me of the two times I studied with him . . . I heard him say many times, "Never pass up an opportunity to simplify." I think that's one of the principles Loomis puts forth in his ideas . . . keep the composition simple.
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