Friday, February 6, 2009


Landscape With Barn. Study for Collage

Approaches or treatments of a subject, can be applied to parts of the whole, or to the entire subject, or to the picture plane layout. Emphasis on line can be one approach to subject treatment.

In the above study, straight lines are contrasted with organic lines in the picture plane. The verticals and horizontals define shapes that are easily "read" as architectural shapes. Although diagonal lines exist here, they do not imply depth. Only the placement of geometric shapes above each other suggests possible three dimensional space, such as is seen in primitive painting.

In my current Series of work, my goal is to explore abstraction and composition, and to not attempt to depict a recognizable subject (at least in the beginning).

The geometric shapes were created in a children's program, Kid Pix which alters the imagery within the format with random generated options. Using geometric options, I saved one version and imported it into a Photoshop document and layered it over an experimentally created painted background. Sections of the geometric design were removed, and others retained. I chose to emphasize several shapes, including the barn.

Generally, in my current Series of Abstractions, however, I have deliberately destroyed recognizable shapes or images. I tend to become entrapped by recognizable imagery and unable to sacrifice elements which are counter to creating a better composition. But for now, I am trying to stay true to my purpose of becoming less dependent upon realism, in order to develop a better sense of pure composition.

The mind interprets visual information from the natural world, whether it was purposely created or not. Confronted with total non objective imagery, or abstraction, many viewers feel some discomfort. Impressionistic abstraction which resembles the familiar world is usually better received.

If one looks at the image of Barn on Marsh Road in my post of Jan. 13, the diagonal lines of the roofs are created by perspective and the viewer "reads" these as structures receding in space or distance.

Santa Fe Adobe.

This small painting, which combines a rendering of a large adobe structure, was designed with an overlay of grid-like checks. I began that series to learn how much three dimensional information must be retained in order to "read" an image as a solid recognizable form. Using checks is not unlike altering the surface texture of a landscape with spatters, drips, brush strokes and knife impressions.

The grid would normally be completely two dimensional. To enhance the building shape, I turned the lines of some grid surfaces to those matching the angles of the adobe walls.Vertical and horizontal lines often imply architecture, but in addition, diagonal lines often suggest depth.

What I learned was, the grid arrangement had to comply with and enhance the realistic image in order for the combination to be successful as a composition. Textures or patterns may be exciting, but they do not in themselves make a finished composition.

Other lines, such as Crosshatching, Gestural or continuous (scribbled) lines, parallel lines, and many other uses of line can be used to define the surface of the subject. When these lines are built up to create texture, they may also create shading, which also can imply three dimensional space. This shading and tone, or light to dark value, also defines depth. The direction of the line upon the surface of the subject helps define its form, contours and depth.

Extended Line

Some artists have used the lines of a subject’s boundaries, and extended them.

Architectural forms easily lend themselves to use of the extended line. Lionel Feininger’s work was largely characterized by the use of line to define space and dimension. He used perspective, and diagonal lines to inform the viewer about implied depth his forms occupied. He also extended lines to divide and organize the two- dimensional space within the picture plane.

Images and writing are the Copyright of Ruth Zachary.