Tag Archives: composition

Art – It’s all in the Lines

Art is in the lines.

Our newest work, Water Reeds, presents the thought that lines are an important factor in the emotional imprint of art. At first glance you might hesitant with the meaning of that statement.

I’ll admit, the statement is fraught with logical pitfalls and dangerous oversimplifications of reason. Everybody views a work of art differently and therefore the emotions can vary.  The lines are the answer to looking at a work and discovering a hidden meaning to its feeling.

In both art schools and simple school art classes, students learn the artistic value of lines. They create direction and focus a viewer’s attention either towards or away from an area in a painting, sculpture, or picture according to the whims of the artist.

Aggressive

But, the usefulness of lines to an artist is not limited to just the direction you wish to point the viewer. They create an emotional feeling behind them.   You can create aggressive lines that are forceful and dramatic. They beat down the doors of the soul with their thick widths and daring nature. The clusters of thick reeds in their green and brown lines dominate a presence that pulls the eye towards them.

Water Reeds
Water Reeds

Passive Aggressive

Another function of a line in the hands of an artist is that of certain emotional passive aggressiveness. The rendering of these emotions is often accomplished with the thinning of a line. A thin black streak against a colored background is not always forceful. It does not assault the eye but it is not possible to ignore its existence.

The smaller reeds in the center of the picture show this feeling by directing your eye  with a hidden yet forceful way. Yet the real technique is  the way the water ripples actually form subtle lines going against the grain of the lines in the reeds.

Passive

Indeed, Our thin lines in the picture direct your eye towards our last line-induced emotion. I refer to passivity. If a thick line is aggressive and a thin line going in another direction is passively aggressive, how then can a line be passive?   The answer is by their being no line.

In the center of the picture you see the gentle reflections of clouds in the water.  True enough, if you were to grab a magnifying glass you would see a line. However, art is about illusion. The place where the blue of the water stops and the white of the cloud begins marks a line of some sort. Yet, from a distance, there is the gentle illusion of no discernible line. One color just stops and the other begins.

One last thought about art around the useful techniques and fashions of lines. Nature has provided us with this tranquil scene of reeds. You feel the light breeze and the warm summer sky. The picture in itself is very relaxing. However, to be relaxing, you as the viewer just need to read between the lines.

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How We Took A Flower From Ordinary To Extraordinary

As I mentioned last week, we are looking to take this photo of a typical tea rose and turn it into something fabulous. It is a good photo with the subject clearly

Tea Rose Original
How can we improve this?

defined and focused. But, it looks like thousands of other photographs of a tea rose.

Artistic is not really a word I would use to describe it as much as ordinary. Ordinary is not bad, but we are making art here!   Yet, it does have some artistic value. Centered in the shot, the rose falls in line with the traditional rule of thirds. However, there is too much space on the outside of the rose.

If you look at the white of the rose and the dirty white in the background you’ll discover that the rose tends to disappear into the background. If it wasn’t for the reddish tint on the tips of the petals, one might not even realize it is there. That is not good.  The answer is to crop the picture so that the flower becomes more focused as the one and only item for the viewer’s perusal.

Next, we need to create a mood for the picture. Since the subject is a flower, we can easily follow one of two routes for creating this mood. We can soften the flower by blurring it. This will give the flower a dreamy  like quality. Doing this kind of visualization reminds me of the Hallmark cards you see for sick people or weddings. In my opinion this is best done with a color photograph.

Or we choose the second mystical mood creator known in art as visual punch. This choosing of one technique over another, probably more than anywhere, is where the visual message of the artist gets to be expressed in photographic art. It’s a choice. You must factor in different element of the picture to make your choice wisely. Personally, I’m thinking this flower needs visual punch. Punch is power.

The reasoning behind this decision is the color of the flower. Since the shot happened during the mid afternoon with the harsh sunlight moving in and out of the clouds, I used a UV filter to act as a sort of sunglasses. I don’t like the amount of color I had to lose to make sure I capture the detail in the flower. Therefore, I chose the visual punch of a black and white image.

Further, the shot just doesn’t seem romantic and “soft” to me.  However, flowers always show a certain sense of passion and passion is power.  So, we have passion and visual punch able to combine into a true statement.  My vision of what route to take when creating this work is now complete.  Now we just need to visually bring it to life.

Since there is no color to attract the eye, we can only use the shading naturally provided by the sun and the colors as they turn from various colors to numerous shades of blackness. The result is a powerful visual image.

Pink Petal Tea Rose
Passion and Punch always work together.

The flower is actually enhanced in its detail by losing the color and the cropping helps bring out the graininess of the flowers leaves. The result is a powerful combination of light and dark, grainy and smoothness that will look good whether framed or printed on canvas.

We go from ordinary to extraordinary.

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Optical Illusion: Reality Out of Focus

Optical Illusion is one of the most tricky photographs that I ever managed to produce.

Basically, it is a reflection of the tree tops in a rain puddle.  What makes this a difficult shot is getting the reflection in focus while attempting to keep the ground slightly out of focus.   The auto focus on the camera had a very difficult time determining what image it really wanted to focus on.  You could hear the focus motor of the camera constantly shift in and out trying to find the right balance.  So, I went to manual focus.

Why would this be tricky?  Well, the garden I was in does not readily welcome using tripods.  Evidently, there are past incidents with other photographers that have basically ruined it for everybody.

This is a shame and should remind all artists and visitors to respect the areas you work your craft or enjoy the outdoors.  It only takes one greedy worm to destroy to ruin the bushel.

I suffer from what photographers call hand shake.  In other words, it is sometimes difficult for me to hold the camera perfectly still using just my hands.

When you take pictures of things far away and in a wide-angle like a landscape, this rarely is a problem.  However, with an up close and personal shot with your lens zoomed in, a small shake can destroy a really good shot.  That is why I use tripods when possible.

What I find uniquely about this shot is the deep green of the leaves and the crystal clear refection in the water.  The image is so clear as to instantly transfix your eyes to the center of the photograph.

So interestingly enough, the slightly out of focus areas are guiding your eyes to the in-focused section much like a line would draw your eye to a subject.  Another item of note is the green of the leaves are offset by the yellow dead leaves lying, also slightly out of focus, in the pool.

It’s also interesting that the reflection in the pool is also perfect even where the water is so shallow it is starting to be affected by the groove of the boulder it is lying in.  In essence the fake reflected world looks more real than the real world.

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What’s So Artistic About a Bunch Of Rocks?

The piece Rocks and Roots provides an interesting composition with varied layers of meaning.

At first glance you see the round pebbles and rocks of a river or stream bed displaced by the roots of a nearby tree.  However, this is a Zen garden and nothing is as it seems.

Zen gardens are places of meditation, solitude, nature and the blending of architecture with nature.  Naturally, every piece and structure, both natural and manufactured in a Zen garden has a purpose.  Usually it tells a story, or reminds you of a lesson or saying.  It works the same way that stained glass works in a church. However, it is possible to also look at the elements in a Zen garden through the eyes of art.

Artistically, this picture is not only old rocks and new roots, it’s also about the lines.  If you notice, there are almost no straight lines in this piece.    Most are of a natural form, a curve, or a smooth rounded edge.  Even the straight lines you do find on some of the roots are not completely straight but still follow a natural fragmented look.

After the study of natural lines Rocks and Roots reveals the value of the contrasts .  Discover the contrasts of texture and color between the various rocks resulting in earth tones of grey and reds but compared with the dark foreboding wood of the root.

Once our eyes are comfortable with these contrasts of line and color we discover the straight lined structure in the far upper left corner compared with the rest of the work. It is now that we have a total blend of components that serves the piece completely.

The shocking result is a work rich in a compelling study of lines, contrast and color.  The different colored rocks, the earth tones and the dark ragged hues of the wood present the miracle of nature but by leaving that straight piece of wood in the corner, we have instantly invented a theme resulting in Man vs. nature theme to the overall composition.  The artificial structure and the natural world is separate, yet part of the compelling experience.

Click here to return to the show Walking through The Zen Garden.

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Photosynthesis

Pictures are powerful reminders and art the creates an emotional response with the viewer.  As a photographic artist I enjoy putting the two together.  My camera is my easel and paint brushes where I can create memories and emotions tied to past events.   If you look at art closely it often begins to ask you questions.  Sometimes it asks questions about your past.

 

Memories work in a strange way.  Most of the time you only remember small amounts of your past, but what I find interesting is the triggers.  I mean, why would a picture in some old dusty tome from the 1980’s come out of viewing a work of art that I had created almost 30 years later?

 

This portrait of a delicate leaf catching the glowing mid-morning sun did just that.   When I saw it’s final form, I thought back to the different world of the 1980’s.  Sitting there in a high school classroom desk wishing the world was different.  I experienced boredom at the highest possible level.  Of course it was high school and I was always mind numbingly bored.

 

So, in trying to arouse my interest in something, anything, other that what the teacher was droning on about, I picked up my biology book and just started thumbing through it.  Anything to get me to the dismissal bell and out of there with my sanity intact.

 

That’s when I discovered a beautiful picture of a leaf.   Specifically, the picture was the underside of a leaf drenched in sunlight with the word Photosynthesis written in bold letters across the top.  My curiosity increased, so I started reading the blend of information most textbooks of that time period offered.

 

That memory is still amazing, given the time that has passed.  But my attempt to beautify the underside of a leaf developed into more that I had bargained for.  For no sooner had the wisps of the leaf picture memory past, it quickly replaced with the memory of that same teacher being bitten by the class pet python.

 

Seems, the teacher had wanted to change the mouse cage before the snake cage  and placed the little furry rodent on her shoulders at the same spot she soon placed the snake.  But that is another story for another time.

 

Ah, the memories.   Anyone else remember their least favorite or most favorite classes from high school?    What’s your story?

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