Tuesday, October 14, 2014

10/13/2014 Monday Night and Wednesday Afternoon Homework: Separating Shapes

We have spent some time practicing how to decide which edges in a shape are hard , soft, or both. As a means of separating shapes and creating an illusion of depth this is a skill every realist painter can use. It's not the only one, of course, so let's extend this investigation to include other variables: How do we decide which variables to use to get the major shapes to appear separated by space?

In this painting, by Joyce Hicks, just about every shape has a hard edge, but there is no confusion about where things are in space. Consider, one by one, what she has done with color, value and composition to make it easy to read depth in the scene.

By contrast, Josefia Lemon's landscape comprises almost entirely soft edges, yet she, too, creates a feeling of vast space. Go down the list: Value, color, composition and wetness. What decisions has the artist made to bring about this illusion?
These are deliberate decisions, the result of experience in both the nature of the medium and understanding how we see.

Here's a scene with a real collision of shapes.Some work must be done to simplify the picture and get the shapes to separate. Can any of the shapes be combined to make the space easier to read? Which variables would that involve? What can be done with color to keep the background more distant? How about value? Edges?

How many separate buildings do you see in the background at the end of the street? Could they be combined? How can you keep them separate from the group of buildings in the middle distance, right behind the car? Don't forget color temperature as a spacial tool. As a rule, warms advance and cools retreat.
Make a couple of sketches of one of these photos, or, better yet, find one you'd like to translate into watercolor. Experiment with manipulating variables to separate shapes in space. Keep track of the decisions you made so we can discuss them during critique.
Have fun!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Tom. First, let me say how much I enjoy your posts, even though I'm not in your class (I'm not anywhere close to you). They are wonderful exercises to work through. If I might offer a tip to your students, I studied with Rex Brandt and his advice on working with a complex scenes where depth (or space) was desired was to deal with the "T" junctions first, those places where the Nodal points create the idea of overlap. Get those correctly placed and the edge quality (hard, rough, or soft) doesn't matter, as in your two examples. In both of those, the Nodal junctions are clearly defined and the illusion of depth/space is easily created.