Blue Table - 2012 - 10 x 12½ in (24.7 x 32 cm) - mixed water soluble media
I find it interesting how restriction can lead to new considerations, such as becoming involved with spatial planes as we see in my painting “Blue Table”. Presenting a harmony with planes and shapes can be quite elusive and I love the challenge. They always seem fresh to me because they are not predetermined, except for the primary shapes, which intentionally read as a still life. I then play with the shapes and planes until I begin to respond to their relationships and I must say they are not meant to be apparent. I wish the viewer to “feel” rather than see them.
Let me begin with the shapes which provide the lyrical unity of the composition. To ensure this, I used an arrangement of rectangles and triangles, conveying harmonious relationships. I actually adjusted their sizes, colours, values and locations several times until my sense of harmony was satisfied. I enjoy this immensely, and working and reworking water soluble media permits endless play.
Now to the planes which providing the sense of space. They are both shapes and edges of shapes which connect or integrate elements in the painting. For instance. the left side of the table integrating with the edge of a plane above, which then takes your perusal to the cool rectangle above the orange stripe. You then take in the yellow triangle. Can you feel the yellow triangle sitting on a vertical plane which seems to come forth? The feeling of space is also felt where the top edge of the table shifts, merging the table and the wall as well as providing the sense of movement. The small box is also sitting on a plane, and I love that small angle below the rhythm of black dots and how it comes forth.
I mustn’t finish without pointing out how the blue triangles provide a base for the composition and I’m very pleased with the triangles at the top corners as well. I then provided a curve within the soaking pan which leads you towards the box through the four dots, which were rearranged a number of times. There is another relationship providing an important rhythmic support for the prominent black sides of the soaking pan. It’s the long parallel rectangle adjacent to the blue triangle to the right. This came forth during the process. I am grateful for having the patience to allow a composition to evolve, no matter how many revisions are required.
I hope you enjoy finding other subtle notes, such as the little black line at the top of the blue triangle at the left . Can you feel it’s impact?
Balthus - The Bouquet of Roses on the Window - 1958 - 53 x 51 in - oil on canvas
Balthus shows us how elegant a very popular subject can be. It’s not the subject, but rather his interpretation and knowledge of composition that makes the painting great. In this posting I will focus on how he supports, or as I prefer, how he integrates the flowers with the fields and trees behind.
Lets begin with the tree to the right and how the circular shapes in the foliage harmonize with the flowers and also lead your eye towards the bouquet. Another great relationship is how the top shape in the tree echoes the shape of the largest rose. Balthus rhythmically uses a circular motif, which is very sensitive and sophisticated. Also, can you feel your eye being carried upwards from the lower part of the rose through the smaller rose then connecting to the tree through the leaf? A great example of how poetic integration can be.
I should mention another very sensitive integration. There is a small “S” like vertical line in the field at the upper right. I hope you can feel how the line rhythmically integrates with the delicate tree at the bottom right. It is meant to be felt, even subconsciously, more than seen.
Now to the left of the flowers where the rhythmic movement of the foreground trees integrate beautifully with the bouquet. I am taken with how the small rose bud flows into the large tree and how the leaf just below the bud integrates with movements in the field, especially the curved one below the tree which harmonizes beautifully with the curve in the leaf.
I have only touched on a very few of many sophisticated considerations in this painting and I hope you will try to discover more of them. One I would like to mention is how Balthus emphasized the shading in the shutter to connect to the distant hill, the green field as well as the hedge. Everything is assessed with composition in mind. I also love the triangle motif harmonizing the fields with the windowsill. His thoroughness is masterful!
Giacometti – Self Portrait – 1921 – 32 x 28 in – oil on canvas
Giacometti’s command of composition is absolutely marvellous in this superb painting.
I will focus on his wonderful integration of the figure with the other elements in the composition. Let’s begin with how your eye is taken across the painting from the seat of the chair, along the bottom of his jacket, to the bottom of his right leg, then you are guided up to the verticals behind. Another beautiful integration is how the curve at the bottom of his pant leg rhythmically connects to the curved element to the left, which in turn, guides you up to his hand. I love it! Also take note how the bottom of his trousers connects to the lower edge of his other leg and how the bottom of his pant leg then integrates with the chair leg. I was and still am taken with how he integrated the other chair leg (between his legs) with his pant leg. Can you feel how the angle in the chair runs into his pants creating a small blue triangle? (see detail)
This very impressive small dark blue triangle provides a sense of overlapping. The top edge of this gorgeous little triangle also parallels a dark line above which in turn integrates with the edge of his palette. Can you feel the movement and shapes? There is also another sense of an angle at the bottom of the dark line (creating another plane) which parallels the angle in the chair leg. There is more. That dark line also connects to a subtle purple line which carries downward into his leg, creating another wonderfully subtle triangle.
Note the line just to the left of his pocket and how this guides you up to the front of his neck and how his chin and his collar connect to the horizontals behind. Just one more, it’s how he leads you upwards through his arm from the opening in his jacket.
There is more for you to engage with, and I hope you enjoy this wonderful early composition by this twentieth century master. I am impressed with how Giacometti permitted to show Cézanne’s influence.