My Work – Rhythm and Harmony

Don Farrell - Three Drawers - 1999 - 33 x 45 cm - 13 x 17.5 in - water soluble media

The arrangement of the drawers is the key for the rest of the composition.  I decided to supported the sweeping movement of the drawer faces with a curve in the table front at the bottom right, which felt very rhythmic.  And to complete the harmony I provided a shadow at the top, echoing the movement of the drawers.  Do you feel the rhythm?

I was pleased, but there was a problem with the viewers eye leaving the composition at the right.  The stripes provided a solution, not only for containment but also a lovely pause (the small black marks in the stripes) appeared.

I was now pleased with the movement to the right, and instinctively knew the need to return the viewer to the left.  After several attempts I finally arrived at a solution that not only balanced the composition, but also rhythmically integrated the drawers and the background.  I added those two dark circular shadows at the upper left and then provided a harmony by painting knobs on just two of the drawers.

I should also mention that the angle of the drawer, at the right, determined the location of the two shadows.  Do you feel the connection?

I then painted the horizontal white line to support the table and a cast shadow at the bottom left which provides a lead into the painting.

I also assessed all the smudges, scratches and markings throughout the composition for indications of disharmony, which usually requires a few visits.

I find it is much more interesting to permit the composition to lead me rather than to force the preconceived detail to dictate.

Van Gogh – (Harmony)

Vincent van Gogh - Portrait of Doctor Paul Gachet - 1890 - 66 x 57 cm - 26 x 22.5 in - oil on canvas

There is so much to appreciate in the wonderful painting by Van Gogh.  And I would like to talk about some of his very sophisticated considerations, such as temperature ratio, integration, parallels, and his superb value assessment.

Lets begin with temperature ratio, or if you prefer, harmonizing warm and cool colours.  An artist is always presented with this is very interesting consideration.  When are the colours in harmony or when do they compete?  And painters have to rely on their senses to determine the difference.

In this painting the ratio between cool and warm is beautifully balanced.  Having the background and his coat very similar in temperature, is very sophisticated, and permit the warm colours to sing!

I love how sensitive the values are in the face and hands  Van Gogh took great care with not permitting the details the disrupt the shapes and their temperature.  Superb visual poetry!.

I will continue in the next posting

Van Gogh – (Pulls, Harmony and Integration)

Vincent van Gogh - The Street Menders - 1889 - 71 x 93 cm - 28 x 37 in - oil on canvas

Van Gogh’s considerations for the viewer are absolutely superb.  He orchestrates your eye movement across the composition beautifully.

Lets begin with a question.  Why is the lower portion of the tree at the right a darker value the the rest of the tree?  The answer is Van Gogh has provided a pull for the focus.  In other words when you look at the primary figure you eye wants move to the dark trunk because it is in harmony with the figure.

The two dark figures are also pulls and provide a second pause in the harmony of the three dak values.

Another harmony is three red notes.  The window, the red beside the dark tree trunk and the worker’s hat.

I love how Van Gogh used doorways and the red window to integrate the figures.  Can you feel the vertical connections?

There is an integration which excited me which I hope you will appreciate.  There is a angled black line in the tree to the right of the two workers at the centre of the painting (see detail below)

The Street Menders - detail

The line is in harmony with the right side of the figure at the left.  This excites me because I can feel Van Gogh assessing the composition.  And I think this is a exceptional integration.

The title is interesting because the street workers are barely noticeable.  Why?  Because Van Gogh did not want information to disrupt his chosen harmony.