The subject of form is a controversial one today, and there is considerable leeway in its interpretation. Among the modern painters there are some who argue that form should not be represented in three dimensions on a flat plane because it is inconsistent with the two-dimensional surface.
" These artists believe that three-dimensional form should be reserved for sculpture. The argument is at least interesting and on the surface seems quite logical.
However the assertion that three-dimensional form cannot be represented on a flat plane is based upon a very literal kind of truth. A painting is not necessarily a matter of materialistic truth, requiring that a thing of bulk and dimension must actually be reduced to a plane as an ingot of iron is rolled into sheet metal. A painting is a thing of illusion. A reflection of a face in a mirror literally and actually lies on a flat plane, but it gives the illusion of a third dimension. A photograph also lies on a flat plane and creates the same illusion. So docs good painting. The men who argue that form should not be represented on a flat plane have not searched deeply enough for truth, they are accepting only material fact. Beyond all this is the even bigger truth that man's creativity must not and cannot be limited to factual truth, for every now and then creativity will transcend fact.
We know that basically form is substance, and that it can be created in actuality or by illusion. i Form need not lose its visual properties in painting, since it is only its appearance that is made known to us by the eye. It must be touched in order for us to sense its bulk and dimensions. Therefore form as seen is really an illusion of our own eyes and brain just as it is in the mirror. We cannot be wrong by painting it as it looks, for we are concerned here with something else. We may represent it in one of two ways, either by a flat diagram as in a blueprint, or as it appears to the eye. Any pictorial representation of form must be one, the other, or some degree of variation between the two. It can be redesigned in either way; it can be visually true or it can be purposely distorted. The artist may choose to represent the decorative quality of flattened form or else to create the complete illusion of the solid aspect of form within space.
Form as interpreted in abstract painting is so much a matter of personal approach that no instruction can prove very helpful. But the elements of beauty, which are themselves abstractions, give us objectives to strive toward in this kind of painting as in any other. There is no reason why the color cannot be. harmonious, the design and pattern beautiful, or why symbolism cannot be introduced, the emotional effects of line injected, and the decorative quality stressed to achieve unity throughout our abstract compositions.
In dealing with form in realistic painting, we must of course rely on the correct interpretation of light and color. Front or back lighting produces a simplified statement of form. Three-quarter lightings produce more variations of light and shadow and therefore increase the solid or
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