Before I return to Arnheim's discussion about shape, I'd like to pay special attention to Don Michael's (http://www.donmichaeljr.com/blog/) perceptive response to yesterday's post. He wrote:
"I noticed that you have used this same composition in two of your paintings, All Cracked Up XXIII (right above) and XXV (left above). In XXIII, the example you provided, the first time I saw it I noticed that you were driving my eye to those two pieces through value, placement, shape and color. The flatness of the larger piece, the intensity of the shadows, the brightness of the larger piece in context to its surroundings all drew my eye to it. In fact, it stopped my eye right there. In XXV you have taken the same composition with a very similar pair of shapes in the exact same position and yet my eye is not as readily drawn to them. The shadow is less pronounced, the value is very similar to its immediate surroundings and the shadow pattern of the whole piece keeps my eye moving past those two shapes. Very interesting how lighting, value, chroma and shadow pattern can so differently affect these two variations of basically the same composition."
Don is absolutely right!! I was experimenting with the same composition and this supports Arnheim's point about perceptual shape. BTW - for some reason this program turned the fragment images sideways, and I don't know how to fix it!!
Quite honestly, most of Chapter 2 in Arnehim's book is interesting, but not of practical use to me. However, his discussion of The Principle of Parsimony when using shape caught my attention. This principle states that the simplest structure (shape) and the simplest organization of that structure will best serve the artist's purpose. He goes on to say that "The principle of parsimony is valid aesthetically in that the artist must not go beyond what is needed for his purpose." And, "The great works of art are complex, but we also praise them for having simplicity, by which we mean that they organize a wealth of meaning and form in an overall structure that clearly defines the place and function of every detail in the whole. This way of organizing a needed structure in the simplest possible way may be called its orderliness."
Simplicity of the complex created by order: In the next blog, I hope to write more about this. I spent the past year studying just that. Thanks for reading. I'd love to hear your viewpoints!!