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Using the language of composition
 

Using the language of composition

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This is a talk that I presented to the K-12 education room at the NCECA national conference in Houston, Texas in March of 2013. Feel free to download, use, change or share.

This is a talk that I presented to the K-12 education room at the NCECA national conference in Houston, Texas in March of 2013. Feel free to download, use, change or share.

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  • You don’t need to write any of this down. You can download the entire talk (without my boring commentary) at Slideshare.net (remember that it’s .net and not .com)
  • At the core of learning in Art we have an event known as The Critique. Students dread being critiqued, but once they get used to it it’s not that bad. This is an image of a recent group critique in one of my classes
  • Please note the helpful grad assistants in the middle. It’s always good to have some graduate students to help during critiques. Of course this isn’t how students think they will learn. They think they’ll learn about Art like this:
  • So let’s get down to the critiques. First of all, a good critique is simply a conversation. And most of the time, the person being critiqued should be a major part of that conversation, especially when we’re talking with younger students.
  • Star Wars underpants. All those images and text mean something- they’re not just their for decoration. My boys had some like this years ago, and on the back of each it read “The Dark Side”. That’s content.
  • Elaine Coleman.This cup uses celadon, which we could talk about Process, and also in color. Of course the celadon glaze has a long history, so we could certainly discuss the differing celadons from history, from the Northern Sung celadons applied over carved clay (that this is referencing) to L’ungChuan to Koryo. Finally, the fact that she is using such a well-known glaze with a strong association with the far east certainly carries meaning (or Content). So even absent the form and carving, the glaze alone provides a number of entry points for discussion.
  • Carved porcelain jar by Janel Jacobson of Minnesota. This piece heavily references the small, carved, celadon-glazed lidded jars of the Northern Sung Dynasty. However, Janel created an asymmetrical design, she incorporates animals and the design has an implied depth with spatial qualities that he Chinese version lacked.Catalog entry:“Celadon Glazed Light Green Carved Porcelain Lidded Box w/Frog by Janel JacobsonJanel Jacobsen ( Harris, Minnesota) is a wood carver whose exquisite works are collected and exhibited by many of the major museums in the United States, including the Smithsonian's Renwick Gallery and New York's Museum of Art and Design. During more than ten years as potter, she began carving in stoneware and porcelain clay. Her work eventually evolved into carving very small porcelain sculptures and then to carving hardwoods. Today her work has grown in scale and scope from small netsuke (functional miniature sculptures used to suspend a pouch or small container from kimono sashes) and ojime(sliding beads on cords that hold the pouch or containers closed) to stand-alone small sculptures. She has received top awards in many of the premier craft shows in the US, including those of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Smithsonian. “
  • This is The girl with the Pearl Earing by Johannes Vermeer. Introduce a different element and we can change the meaning of the painting.
  • Vermeer often painted his subjects in a domestic setting with the only light source being a window to the left and he often included pouring or drinking vessels.
  • I like this updated version of The Girl with the Pearl Ear Ring. It would be an interesting conversation with students to see how they view the meaning of this painting change by presenting it in these alternate ways. By the way, the original painting is touring and will be at the High Museum in Atlanta in 2013
  • This is the Chromatic Typewriter by Tyree Callahan, a Portland, Washington artist. I’ve seen it on the internet with text beneath it that reads “Bob Ross’s typewriter: your argument is invalid”
  • Primary Colors: Red, Blue, Yellow.
  • Secondary Colors are what you get when you mix the primaries together: Orange, Violet and Green.
  • Tertiary Colors are what you get when you mix a primary and a secondary color: Yellow Orange, Red Orange, Red Violet, Blue Violet, Blue Green and Yellow Green.
  • Complementary colors are the color directly opposite on the color wheel. If you mix two perfect complements in perfect proportions you’d get black and in the painting world we often mix in some of the complement when we want to tone down or “gray” a color. Conversely, when you put two complements next to each other, both of them will seem brighter and more intense.
  • So, for instance, when Vincent Van Gogh wanted to make the orange of his natural coloration seem more intense, he gave himself a blue background
  • Analogous colors are three to four hues or colors that are right next to each other on the wheel. Analogous colors produce a sense of richness and complexity. Potters respond to soda and salt-fired ceramic because those techniques tend to produce a range of subtle colors that form an analogous relationship.
  • Analogous colors are harmonious and pleasing to the eye. Francois Boucherchose blues, violets and splashes of red for an elegant, restful portrait of Madame Marquise de la Pompadour.
  • Blue Dancers, Edgar Degas. You see that he usesblue,bBlue-green,gGreen and yellow-green. It then throws in orange, the compliment of the blue, which gives the blue a bit of pop.
  • Here’s another Van Gogh self portrait from a little later. His hair is no longer so orange, but his beard is still red-orange. Besides choosing to make a lighter background he’s shifted the blue to a blue-green and green, which provides a better compliment to the red-orange and red in his beard.
  • Triadic Color Scheme, which are three colors equal distance from each other on the color wheel. Triadic schemes, especially those with primary colors, are fresh, bright and childlike. Not surprisingly, we often see these on children’s clothing.
  • Red, blue, yellow.
  • This is Andy Warhol's "Shot Blue Marilyn" from1964. An artist can also use this color scheme in an ironic sense, as Warhol does here. There’s nothing child-like in her appearance.
  • Here Vermeer reminds us that while this person is on the cusp of womanhood, she’s also much that’s still child-like about her.
  • We can also roughly divide the wheel into cool and warm colors.
  • Again, here’s another nice example of an analogous color scheme, with colors from Blue to Green, and just a bit of orange (the complement) in those rocks to bump up the intensity.
  • This is a photograph of Blue Lagoon in Iceland. These are REALLY cool colors. Again, the inclusion of the small amount of orange from the street lights of the town make the cool of the blues even more cool. This photo is also a bit ironic as Blue Lagoon is one of the largest hot water springs in the world.
  • Olaf Otto Becker, a German landscape photographer who did a whole series of iceberg photographs.The color scheme is so subtle that it’s almost B&W, yet the coolness of the color still comes through.
  • Here’s a nice example of warm colors. Again, the irony is that this was taken first thing in the morning with the morning mists rising from the fields, so it’s actually the cool of the day.
  • This is a photograph called Claryville, N.Y and is part of a series by Ben Fink titled Shadow Realms. View more at www.benfinkphoto.com.Warm and cool colors can set each other off very nicely, as we see here.
  • Tint, Shade and Tone
  • Value Scale
  • Chauvetcave, France. 30,000 years ago. Lions represented with line and value. This drawing demonstrates that people have long understood the abstract idea that the edges of forms could be represented in a drawing by a black line.
  • Saul SteinbergFake Handwriting. Nice example of a wide range of line qualities
  • Saul SteinbergNO.
  • Zander Olsen
  • Zander Olsen
  • Bowman and Deer, represented as shapes. Los Caballos, Spain, 10,000 years ago.
  • MC Escher, Day and Night, 1938. Shapes and forms together.
  • Henri Matisse. His paper cutouts were brilliant at reducing a three dimensional form to a series of two dimensional shapes.
  • Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Portrait of Guillaume GuillonLethière(1760-1832) (1815, pencil on wove paper).
  • DetailJean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Portrait of Guillaume GuillonLethière(1760-1832) (1815, pencil on wove paper).
  • Trinity College Library, Ireland. We see lots of line and there are so many books that they begin to become texture, rather than individual units. Mostly, however, se see the space and scale created by having this strong perspective view.
  • There are a lot of ways to express volume, but probably a balloon is one of the best.
  • Saul SteinbergThis is a great example of using stylistic diversity in a single image. Each figure is expressed using different elements. This is a fun piece to show students and have them find and list the elements in each figure, including the dog.
  • Hierarchy is very evident in this iconic photograph by National Geographic photographer Steve McCurry. Besides the fact that her eyes and expression are haunting, notice that her eyes are physically centered in the image. She wearing a robe that’s the color complement to her eyes and the background mirrors the color in her eyes. McCurry’s photographs often make brilliant use of color.
  • Another photo by Steve McCurry. Can you think of a more obvious example of Hierarchy?
  • Steve McCurry. This is an image of KumbhMela, a mass Hindu Pilgrimage to bathe in the waters of one of four sacred rivers in India. It is the world's largest religious gathering, with 80 million people expected in 2013. Notice the strong contrast between the bright clothing of the pilgrims as opposed to the somber colors of the river and the bridges. The floats create a strong rhythm and the sun (either setting or rising) accentuates each one with bring orange. The perspective of these lines repeating into the fog give the impression that these bridges go on forever.
  • Matisse has removed virtually all information that would tell us that this is a figure, yet we still see it. We also see it’s strong sense of movement. No one would argue with you if you were to call this a dancing figure.
  • Long Room of the Old Library, Trinity College Dublin. Here we see harmony and balance and a great deal of repetition. Rhythm is perhaps the most human of the elements as we’re surrounded by it our entire lives. The rhythm of our hearts, our breathing, the rhythm of the days, the seasons, the years. It’s not surprising that we respond so well to it. Not a strict repetition: we want repetition and variation, as we see here. Rhythm, pattern and repetition are really just different intensities of the same thing. Repeat something often enough, as you see with the books, and repetition becomes texture. Here we have the bass drum beat of the ribs on the ceiling down to the snare drum of the books and everything in between.
  • Long Room of the Old Library, Trinity College Dublin. The composition only becomes more interesting when we see it from different angles.
  • T’ang Dynasty silver tray. Repetition, variety. A strong arrangement of lines creates movement and the asymmetry of the leaf design creates an interesting balance. 
  • Canteen,Syria, mid-13th century.Brass, silver inlay. The design includes a representation of the Virgin and Child in the center, surrounded by narrative scenes from the life of Christ as well as saints and knights. It has been suggested that the canteen may have been commissioned by a wealthy Christian, as a special memento of his travels to the East. Alternatively, it may have also been made for a Muslim patron, who was familiar and interested in Christian imagery.
  • Hookah base, Islamic. 17th/18th century.
  • Silver box, Tang Dynasty, 8th cent. AD.Ttheembellishment on the form acts as ornament, reinforce the form and tell us about it’s bountries.
  • Japan. Lacquer ware ewer. I like the strong contrast between the very placid, balanced form (with only the addition of the spout to interrupt the mechanical balance) and the strongly contrasting surfaces and patterns. There’s certainly an interesting movement created by the zigzag pattern and a dissonance between the form and surface. this is the opposite of ornament in that the surface ignores the form rather than reinforcing it, and it’s power prevents it from playing the secondary role we usually ascribe to decoration. Instead it’s a coequal but contrasting partner with the form.
  • Belgian artist WimDelvoye. If you repeat an element enough you create organize it correctly on a form, you get Ornament. Ornament is one of the most important signifiers for humans and it’s how we’ve long differentiated the ordinary from the extraordinary. There’s a nice irony in Delvoye’s decision to ornament such a mundane object and the fact that making it special also make it unusable.
  • WimDelvoye. I enjoy Delvoye’s use of ornament because he uses it in an ironic, post-modern way, such as this life-size Gothic Bulldozer
  • WimDelvoye. A leaping, twisting Gothic semi- tractor trailer. Seventeenth century Flemish Baroque style
  • WimDelvoye .Here it is in another view.
  • WimDelvoye. And here’s a detail.
  • This is the cruise ship Costa Concordia, which went aground off the west coast of Italy in January of 2012. Can you think of a better example of dissonance? I challenge you to look at this image for more than a few second and not begin to feel a bit of motion sickness. From a purely compositional sense the photograph is fairly balanced with a nice contrast between an active side and a more placid side. However, our brain knows that water doesn’t do that and it refuses to accept it at that angle.
  • Castello di Sammezzano. Tuscany, Northern Italy. This is the Peacock Room. This is certainly a strong use of line, shape and color.Castello di Sammezzano sits on top of a hill in Tuscany, Northern Italy. Originally it was built in the Moorish style in 1605 for Ximenesd'Aragona and then re-designed between 1853 and 1889. After the war the castello was used as a luxury hotel until closure in the mid to late 1990's. It was abandoned until April 2012 when the FPXA committee was formed, aiming to promote and enhance the castle.
  • I think you’d have to be blind to not see that everyone one of these Principles is at play in this rather complex design.Castello di Sammezzano sits on top of a hill in Tuscany, Northern Italy. Originally it was built in the Moorish style in 1605 for Ximenesd'Aragona and then re-designed between 1853 and 1889. After the war the castello was used as a luxury hotel until closure in the mid to late 1990's. It was abandoned until April 2012 when the FPXA committee was formed, aiming to promote and enhance the castle.
  • Yes another room in the Castello. The pattern is every bit as complex but the lack of color gives it a much subtler quality. Certainly this view of the room gives it a balance and harmony.The extravagant residence Castello di Sammezzano sits on top of a hill in Tuscany, Northern Italy. Originally it was built in the Moorish style in 1605 for Ximenesd'Aragona and then re-designed between 1853 and 1889. After the war the castello was used as a luxury hotel until closure in the mid to late 1990's. It was abandoned until April 2012 when the FPXA committee was formed, aiming to promote and enhance the castle.
  • One final view of the Castello di Sammezzano. This wall was created in one color and one value, but because of the three dimensional ornament on the surface, the interplay of light and shadow creates all the varieties of value. There’s an inventive variety among the visual elements, but they’re being used to create unity, harmony and balance.
  • Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Portrait of Guillaume GuillonLethière(1760-1832) (1815, pencil on wove paper).There’s balance here as well, but not of a mechanical nature. What we mainly see here is hierarchy as the detail in face causes us to see that as the most important part of the drawing, while the rest, while powerfully and gesturally rendered, plays a supporting role.
  • This is an ancient Egyptian stone carving that’s now in the Met in NY. There’s a contrast between the placid background and the very active design around the eyes that create a definite hierarchy. The repetition of the dots and lines around the features but the placid body and background balance that. There’s an asymmetrical balance: even though the face is off center to the right, the weight of the body on the left brings the composition into balance.
  • Beak-spouted jar, iron-age Iran ca. 1450-1100 B.C.E.In the recent pieces we’ve been talking as much about surface as form. What about here? What principles are in play? Proportion is certainly important, as is balance of an asymmetrical kind. We might even say that the balance is so asymmetrical that it creates dissonance.
  • Sweet white stem cup, Ming Dynasty, China. 1403-24. Balance and symmetry, and there’s a beautiful sense of movement in the S curve of the bowl. I’d use words to describe this pot that aren’t necessarily on our list, like simplicity, elegance, grace. I think it’s important to remember that these lists aren’t necessarily complete or all inclusive. They’re just a starting point.
  • Isnik tile with glaze pattern. Turkey. This is a little bit trickier to analyze because you’re seeing just one tile that was intended to be one out of a large, repeating wall. It’s fun, though, to look at the parts of the pattern at each edge and imagine how all the parts would connect and how the whole would be punctuated by the rhythm of the grout lines, and the fact that the flowers at each edge of this pattern all cross a grout line.
  • Bronze bucket 16th cent. Islamic. This simple, quiet object has unity, variety and harmony. There’s certainly balance, and the proportions are quietly exquisite. There’s an understated hierarchy in the pattern that leads us towards and announces the rim, and the pattern exhibits a wonderful dance-like movement.
  • Lacquer box, 17th cen. Kangxi, Qing Dynasty, China. I wanted the the last piece to be something that’s seems both historical and contemporary. I’m not going to describe this, but instead give it to you and your students as a homework assignment to describe, analyze and digest after you get home.
  • I always say that as an art teacher I provide the 3 I’s.
  • As an art teacher, it’s my job to provide students with the three I’s: information, inspiration and insight. Of the three, Insight is the most difficult to both teach and learn. It’s only by struggling to describe, analyze and understand what’s happening in a work of art that we finally achieve the insights that get us…
  • Here. Or in fine art terms…
  • Here. Thank you.

Using the language of composition Using the language of composition Presentation Transcript

  • Using the Language of Composition to Discuss and Understand Art
  • • http://www.slideshare.net/ppinnell
  • “Ok, everybody- it’s time for critique”.
  • What do artist talk about when they critique each other?• Process and materials• Composition and color• Content• Precedent
  • Process• How was the piece made?• What is it made from?• What kind of surface does it have?• How was it fired?
  • Composition• Formal considerations (the Elements and Principles of Art)• Color and color relationships
  • Content• The meaning or significance of an object. – Overt (political, social, religious) – Quiet (What does a hand-made pot mean?)
  • Precedent• Who explored these ideas before?• What can we learn from them?
  • Do these overlap?• Process and materials• Composition and color• Content• Precedents
  • The steps in a critique• Description/discovery What do we see there?• Analysis How are these things being used?• Interpretation How would you explain what’s occurring in this piece?• Evaluation How successfully is the artist fulfilling his/her goals?
  • • Process and materials• Composition and color• Content• Precedents
  • • Process and materials• Composition and color• Content• Precedent
  • Elements of Art line shape form value color texture mass volume space scale
  • Elements of Art Principles of Art line unity shape variety form harmony value dissonance color balance texture contrast mass proportion volume hierarchy space movement/motion scale pattern/rhythm/repe tition
  • Elements of Art Principles of Art line unity shape variety form harmony value dissonance color balance texture contrast mass proportion volume hierarchy space movement/motion scale pattern/rhythm/repe tition
  • Elements ofArt line shape form value color texture mass volume space scale
  • Elements of Art line shape form value color texture mass volume space scale
  • Elements of Art line shape form value color texture mass volume space scale
  • Elements of Art line shape form value color texture mass volume space scale
  • Elements of Art line shape form value color texture mass volume space scale
  • Elements ofArt line shape form value color texture mass volume space scale
  • Elements ofArt line shape form value color texture mass volume space scale
  • Elements of Art line shape form value color texture mass volume space scale
  • Elements of Art line shape form value color texture mass volume space scale
  • Elements of Art line shape form value color texture mass volume space scale
  • Principles of Art unity variety harmony dissonance balance contrast proportion hierarchy movement/mot ion pattern/rhythm /repetition
  • Principles ofArt unity variety harmony dissonance balance contrast proportion hierarchy movement/m otion pattern/rhyth m/repetition
  • Principles of Art unity variety harmony dissonance balance contrast proportion hierarchy movement/motion pattern/rhythm/repe tition
  • Principles of Art unity variety harmony dissonance balance contrast proportion hierarchy movement/motion pattern/rhythm/rep etition
  • Principles of Art unity variety harmony dissonance balance contrast proportion hierarchy movement/motio n pattern/rhythm/r epetition
  • Principles of Art unity variety harmony dissonance balance contrast proportion hierarchy movement/m otion pattern/rhyth m/repetition
  • Principles of Art unity variety harmony dissonance balance contrast proportion hierarchy movement/mo tion pattern/rhythm /repetition
  • Principles of Art unity variety harmony dissonance balance contrast proportion hierarchy movement/moti on pattern/rhythm/ repetition
  • Principles ofArt unity variety harmony dissonance balance contrast proportion hierarchy movement/ motion pattern/rhyt hm/repetitio n
  • Principles of Art unity variety harmony dissonance balance contrast proportion hierarchy movement/mo tion pattern/rhyth m/repetition
  • Principles of Art unity variety harmony dissonance balance contrast proportion hierarchy movement/motion pattern/rhythm/rep etition
  • Elements of Art line shape form value color texture mass volume space scale
  • Principles of Art unity variety harmony dissonance balance contrast proportion hierarchy movement/motio n pattern/rhythm/r epetition
  • Principles of Art unity variety harmony dissonance balance contrast proportion hierarchy movement/motion pattern/rhythm/re petition
  • Principles of Art unity variety harmony dissonance balance contrast proportion hierarchy movement/motion pattern/rhythm/rep etition
  • Principles ofArt unity variety harmony dissonance balance contrast proportion hierarchy movement/ motion pattern/rhyth m/repetition
  • Principles ofArt unity variety harmony dissonance balance contrast proportion hierarchy movement/m otion pattern/rhyth m/repetition
  • The Three I’s• Information• Inspiration• Insight
  • The Three I’s• Information• Inspiration• Insight