Sunday, October 28, 2007

Enter The Atelier

Now, to look at the little Hoquiam Shipyard painting through the lens of classic realism.

Early in her book, Aristides provides one of the best explanations of the "Golden Mean" I have read. Without getting into the math, philosophy and science here, I'll offer the interested this link (One-Over-The-World web link, everything you could ever hope to learn about the Golden Mean). Cut to the chase and see the application of the Golden Number to art.

But, how did my "intuitive" composition hold up to the "school solution" methods of arranging the elements of my picture? I went to Photoshop to see.

The first jpeg gives an overlay of the Golden Mean (GM). Hmmn, I thought. Not too revealing. I guess I did have the key lines of my building-boat masses parallel to a GM line (short line). And, the line of background elements sort of fit the theory, although not quite parallel with the long axis GM line.

Then, I decided that it was kosher to look at the main elements of the picture, and to group them as a GM box (jpeg below). Nice! The green outline is the GM 1:1.6 ratio box that is the anointed "perfect ration" outline (well, not to scale, but the idea is there). The pink-violet lines are the lines of interest of the anointed pictures. The upper yellow line shows a parallel line that I employed, and the other yellow lines complete the magic triangle so well known by lovers of the Renaissance artists.

Well, not too bad. I describe myself as "self taught," but I actually have studied a thing or two about art and drawing over the years. It's just fun once and a while to hold these things up to the light of the classical drawing standards and see how they compare.

In the end, I do have troubles with a few things in my painting. The way that the right most line of the building lines up with the boat's housing line gives me fits. In one way, it helps the grouping cohere, but on the other hand it makes it harder for the eye to distinguish the boat from that background element. If I were to re-do this painting in a larger format, I would monkey with that to see what I liked better. What do you artists out there think of that part?

Further, there are some crude aspects to the boat hull and the tall legs of the large building, but I also kind of like the way the pastel mimics the brush strokes of an oil painting and just left it as is.

The main thing is, I wanted to take this piece fresh from my studio and in my less intellectual state of mind, and critique it against the searing light of "perfect drawing" skills as shown in the new Atelier book. In the end, I am happy that my composition is in the ballpark, and I very much enjoy that turquoise color!

Golden Ratio Links:
Play with an interactive Golden Rectangle - fun!
Just the facts
Blogger Post On Subject
An Approximative Approach
Museum of Harmony


Meg Lyman said...


I love this work. My favorite thing about it is how it has your colorist/abstract fingerprints all over it, but is clearly representational. Great job!

About the lines of the building and boat being coincident - the experts always say to avoid tangents in composition, and usually they're right. But this one doesn't bother me at all. I think it's because moving the building or boat to one side would ruin the nice balance the composition has.

Lisa B. said...

I hadn't really noticed the alignment of the building to the wheelhouse(?) until it was pointed out to me. It doesn't really bother me, but a slight jog between the housing and building would probably make a stronger piece.

I like the strong vertical element because my own eye is naturally falling on the stern of the boat, right about where you placed the yellow line. I'm going to plead "left-eye dominance" and leave it at that.

I'm aware of the "GM", but find that I use it to figure out where the artist intended the center of interest, because I typically look at something else. In this case, a sunny stern against a deep shadow instead of a big blue wheelhouse with a big red dot on it saying "look over here, dummy."

Omitting the building on stilts would have left this scene rather ordinary looking. Glad you kept it.

Casey Klahn said...

Wow, Meg. You got the old guy thinkin', there! I had to look up tangent because I had it as more perpendicular. By definition, I see it is more parallel. That makes sense of your statement.

See what happens to you when you get close to thirty years out of school? The fog sets in...

People say they see my style even in my realistic pieces, which is understandable. I live in a stuck-up world of juries who need uniformity to understand something. Pity, isn't it?

Thanks for your kind response - I appreciate it.

Casey Klahn said...

You know, that's an interesting thing, Lisa. I now realize that I wanted to have the greater value range on the bow of the boat (the water provides an excellent vehicle for a big dark patch). But, the stern winds up having more value range. I tried to kill that, but now I see that it remains darker than the front.

The problems of working small! This painting was one of those, "I probably won't finish this, but let's see where it goes" things.

I have a little different take on center of interest issues, but usually I wind up with a strong center anyway. More on that later.

Thanks very much, Lisa!