Look For Block Forms

inn, £ 1 l ur i three-dimensional effect. With diffused light tlie gradations of light to shadow are much more subtle and have less contrast. The important tiling is to choose the kind of lighting that will make our subjects most beautiful and suit the composition we have chosen to make.

When the light can be controlled, it is a good idea to experiment with the material at hand under different degrees and angles of light before you start to paint.

If you are making a simple design or pattern, direct front lighting or diffused light will serve your purpose best. If you want a picture that is bright and sparkling with highlights, top or back lighting would be a logical choice.

An artist's painting made against the light will usually have more sparkle than one he executes with the light behind him. This is because the top planes will be brilliantly lighted, setting objects out in relief. Just as sunlight or moonlight creates a path of sparkling light on water, it will do so on forms such as rocks, foliage, or figures.

Direct side or right-angle lightings divide the subject into equal light and shadow, whereas most artists feel that one should dominate the other.

From the point of view of form, three-quarter lighting, from either front or back, is perhaps the most interesting. This kind of lighting displays forms in all their variety and shape. The accompanying technical problems presented under these conditions arc proportionately greater for the artist, but he can only gain by making the experiment.

y It is true that suggested form is more interest ing than form finished to the last detail, but such interpretation requires a more imaginative ap proach and a looser technique. Some artists achieve this technique easily; others slave for it for years, and may never attain it. The reason suggestion is often more clfcctive than a literal statement is that it calls equally upon the imagination of the viewer.

To create an impression of form we must stop n£ r -rviJ.'N x before the interpretation is complete. We may do this by not filling in the mass entirely. We may leave little breaks in the halftone, or not brush over it solidly and completely, or we may make a sharper and more chiseled break into the shadow. Brush strokes can be left showing where the actual form is perfectly smooth and edges can be lost where such omissions effectively emphasize some other and more important feature.

Impressionistic painting makes use of many happy, accidental effects, and the wise artist will train himself to leave well alone. If he does not approach his work in this way, but paints meticulously inch by inch, he is unlikely to produce such accidentals which give spontaneity and life to a subject. There is not much any artist can do to retrieve the feeling of spontaneity in a painting once this quality has been lost.

It is best to think of each subject and each painting as an entirely separate affair. One subject may call for one kind of treatment and another one for an altogether different technique. If the subject at hand calls for exactness, do not refrain from using detail simply because you rather liked the lack of it in something else you did once. Norman Rockwell likes detail. lie has built a reputation from it. It is foolish to criticize his work for that reason. If Rockwell wants to develop other qualities in his work, only he can do it. But if he enjoys detail, he is being himself by painting it, which in the long run is the best thing any artist can be. Raoul Dufy was not interested in detail. He liked to paint loosely, using light and sunny colors to depict outdoor scenes on the shore, on the racetrack, and elsewhere in France. He too was being himself. If you are not yourself, you cannot be anyone else, and can easily end up by being nobody in particular.

One can learn a great deal about form by painting a wide range of different forms, from human faces to glass bowls and from barns to city skyscrapers. In each case, it is of first importance to try to make what we paint look convincing. A piece of pottery has an identifying character in

Norman Rockwell

Young Henry Ford by Norman Rockwell, ford motor company. Norman Rockwell likes detail----He is being himself by painting it, which in the long run is the best thing any artist can be

This sort of idealization was carried out in Greek and Roman sculpture. We call it "classic," which to me means the greatest possible beauty that can be achieved with a certain kind of form

GluteobicepsGreatest Roman Sculpture

Music by Eugene Berman, julien levy. It is true that suggested form is more interesting than form finished to the last detail, but such interpretation requires a more imaginative approach and a looser technique. Some artists achieve this technique easily; others slave for it for years, and may never attain it its surface, its values, its color, and the way it looks in different kinds of light. Flesh, to look like flesh, must be painted very differently from the way we would paint a piece of wood which in turn has its own characteristics. A cotton dress cannot be painted in the same way we would paint one that was made of silk or satin. Each object has a characteristic color and texture as well as an identifiable shape.

To the layman form is merely shape and ma-teriaL. To the artist form is also light, halftone, and shadow, in subtle and refined relationships. The shape is there, but it underlies everything else. An object in one light and in a certain location cannot be transposed to another setting without a corresponding change in light and space relationships.

In order to paint form with solidity we must seek out the planes and set them into the proper sequence of values. The plane at right angles to the source of light is the lightest and brightest. As the planes turn from this source they change in value until they reach the shadow. Thus the solidity of the form becomes evident. The shapiP of the shadow identifies the shape of the form, and the shadow cast on other surfaces relates the form to its environment. In a diffused light, there is still the change of plane, but being much more subtle and without cast shadow, it must be related to its environment by the relationship of its values to the values around it.

To return for a moment to the question of idealized form, we must remember that by idealizing it we may lose its inherent character, and that character actually may be more beautiful than any "improved" or "slicked over" effect we might add. Even if we paint only an impression, it should be an honest one. Beauty may be found in idealization, but we must not forget that it also is found in truth.

But the idealization of form need not mean "prettying" a subject up; it may merely involve the process of simplification. It can mean the flattening of the round into planes; it can mean stressing design or the elimination of nonessential and distracting details so that the basic structure of a beautiful object is properly revealed.

This sort of idealization was carried out in Greek and Roman sculpture. We call it "classic," which to me means the greatest possible beauty that can be achieved with a certain kind of form; in ordinary language, it is "tops" in its class.

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Responses

  • Marjo Uusipaikka
    How did norman rockwell lite his subjects?
    8 years ago

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