The Laws of Nature

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Shape, continued...


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!!

7 comments:

Celeste Bergin said...

You who could be writing a book instead of reading one! lol!...but seriously, I enjoyed reading this. I don't often delve deeply into analysis of painting..but you've made it digestible here. What I very much enjoy about your work is that it is so controlled, yet burning and alive with unexpected "heat". What a juxtaposition! Who thinks to offer glowing eggshells as art? You do --and somehow because you work so diligently behind the scenes...it succeeds.

Kathy said...

I had to laugh out loud, Celeste - book writing, oh dear! I still have so much to learn that I'd better keep painting and reading :)
However, I'm glad you and others are reading this and are contributing to my education. I'm learning a lot from everyone. And, thanks so much for your generous comments about my eggshell paintings. It's tough to balance control with passion (heat) and I'm not always successful. But, I'll keep working at it!

Margaret Ryall said...

Just when I think I'm getting my head around this principle you make this statement -simplicity of the complex created by order - then I got all fuzzy again. I think I will need to wait for the next blog post.

Right now I see it as organizing your shape(s) and where you put them in as simplified a manner as you can - there's no need to go overboard and provide unneeded information.

Sheila said...

I spent the last 30 minutes going through the last four posts. Now I need to go back to spend more time reading the comments because they are just as interesting thanks to your wonderful ability to facilitate discussion and dialogue!

Kathy said...

Hi Margaret, Thanks for your thoughtful comments. Tomorrow's post will settle the "cliff hanger!"

Hi Sheila, I now what you mean! I go over and over this stuff in my head and still feel like there's much more to digest! But, that's the glory of being a life-long learner. You never run out of stuff to study :)

-Don said...

I typed a nice long thank you and such and thought I posted it here, but I see now it did not post. Bummer, now I can't remember what I said... and I think it was some of my best writing, ever...

Thanks for mentioning my response and thanks for continuing to write these thought provoking blogs. -Don

Kathy said...

Hi Don - oh, dear! Some of your best writing and it's lost. You have great insights and if those thoughts return, please send them along!