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Lecture 3 – It’s Too Boring

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Common issue is, it's too boring. Paintings magic exists in its ability to move the eye around and within the painted image. And our job as painters is to choreograph that eye movement. So let's look at a couple examples of how our eye when we're viewing a painting does move through an image. First, let's take an example of a traditional landscape. This painting is by Auguste Wilhelm Lu.

It's called mourning over a mountainous Norwegian landscape. And it's from 1846. And if we look at this, our eyes usually start on the left to view an image because as Americans we read from left to right. So normally we our eyes, start on the left. I just want to say a lot of times people think that When you view a painting, you're viewing it all at once. And I believe that when we view a painting, if we slowed down that viewing process, we would actually be entering the painting at some point and moving through it, like we would watching a movie, there's a time element in there in a sequence.

And that, therefore, we have to enter the painting somewhere. And so when we read from left to right, we will enter from the left or near the bottom. And in countries that read from right to left, they would have a different way of entering imagery. So with this painting, we would probably come if you look at this path right here, there's actually a path that's painted. And it starts right in here. We'd probably our eyes, just like we were a person walking in this landscape, we would start over here, and we would kind of spiral around like this, and maybe move out through these mountains and out.

So there's a lovely little meandering I path if you will, in this piece. Now this represents one of two types of space that we can create in a painting. This space is called spatial depth. Or it's a way by meandering like this snaking our way through. It's a way of creating the illusion of a spatial depth, a depth of space. So we feel as if we're looking in a window and out added landscape.

This was developed in the Renaissance as a way of encouraging a viewer to just forget that is hanging on the wall and allow themselves to feel like they are in fact looking out of a window and enjoying landscape. This type of space is called plastic space by artists Mark Rothko, a well known color field artists. And it can also be used with abstraction. So we can see how it's obvious that it used in a landscape this idea of looking through a window at a depth of depth of space, but in an abstraction here, you can see that some things appear to be coming forward and some things appear to be going back in space. There's a setup, this looks like it's in front of that, this looks like it's in front of that, and our eye can still enter somewhere on the left, and move around like it's moving back in space and forward.

So even abstraction can make use of this depth of space. The second type of space that we can use as painters to encourage our viewer to move through the image is more of a flat space. So if we look at this painting by Gustaf clamped, we can see that it's kind of hard to feel like there's a depth of space in here. We might enter on the left in some of these places, but everything feels like it's on a flat plane. This is called a flat space or narrow depth of field. And instead of using depth to create movement, the artist is encouraging the eye to move across and within the piece using design or composition, it's also called a graphic way of creating imagery.

So the two types of space we're dealing with as painters is a depth of space where we feel like we start in a front plane at the front, the first object that's closest to us that looks like it's closest to us, and that we can move back through the space into a depth and the other type of space sweeps from left to right across the frontal plane of the surface. So we could say that the first type of space the depth of space was perpendicular from the viewer or the front plane of the canvas back. And we could say that the second type of space, often called designer composition, moves flat Along are parallel to the surface, an image can seem boring. If it has neither of those two types of space. If it has no depth of space, then it definitely needs to be worked on in terms of a design or composition moving across.

And if it has no designer composition, it definitely needs the depth of space, it needs one or the other, to make it more interesting. So let's look at an example that happened to me where I discovered something was too boring, because it lacked depth of space. And it got to this point, I really thought it was finished. And I sent it off to my gallery where it was on exhibit for about a year and a half. And after that point, I often call my gallery if something hasn't sold, and I asked to have the painting come back to me so that I can hang it in my studio for a while and look at it to see if it could use some perk ups or maybe it has an issue that I didn't notice. So I brought it back and it was hanging on my wall and it kept kept bothering me.

It just didn't feel right. So I was looking at it, and I started to use my system, it's too, and I said it's too flat. It only for me felt like it had two planes of space. It basically has this mountain range here. By the way, this is called a diptych when I have two panels, using the same painting is separated in two different surfaces. But this diptych had one foreground here.

And the rest felt like background it all felt like it was on one plane. And this one foreground and one background plane two planes. And I thought that's just not enough depth of space. Because certainly I'm not dealing with a flat narrow space. Your eye wants to go back but then there's not much to go back to. So I changed it to This painting.

And so here are the improvements that I made. Now if we look at the two together, I feel that this one has a much more directed eye path. And it also has much more depth of space. So I left this the same, left the foreground the same, but if you notice, I broke this whole area into two more distinct mountain ranges by using a hard edge here and a hard edge here. This felt like patterning sort of like the Klimt painting that had similar graphic design going all the way across. But in this case, I wanted to go back, not fly all the way across.

So I took all of that out and turned it into something that would recede further back by being more muted and lighter. And I'd like to show you an example with paint in terms of how to do that. What I basically did his I felt that this was too boring, because it only had two planes of space, not enough depth of space. And all I did with this was add a few more planes of space things that were obviously in front of each other and in back to add more of that depth of space. Let's look at an example that I can show you how I resolved it with paint. Here is a painting with the same issue basically has two planes, this and this.

Now I could say, well, maybe this is two planes. But if I look at it through the same value, and this hard edge here doesn't really separate them in terms of a space for me. So it really does feel like it's stuck with two planes of space. So I'm going to add another mountain range right here, just so that I have 123. Even three is better than two and adds more visual interest. So I'm going to do that by mixing a color.

That's pretty neutral. And I'm not going to use high contrast. I'm not going to use a one and a 10 pair because that would come forward. Word and that would stick itself on to this, I am going to use colors that are very close together in value. So maybe a number three and a five, or a four and a six together. low value, pairs of colors tend to go back in space, whereas high contrast and bright colors tend to come forward.

And what I'm trying to do again is create a mountain range or another plane in space that goes back. So I'm going to start with a gray. And first I'm just going to take this gray, and just sort of outline and it's kind of a dry, my paint is a little dry. That's good. I'm sort of dry brushing it out. And I can add water to the paint or I can add medium Instead of just one mountain, I think I'll add another one.

So I'm going to make this one a little higher up. I'm just outlining it because if I just keep that line, the same going all the way across, it's just gonna look flat. But I'll vary it later. Right now it's easier to just figure out where I'm putting what, and then I'm gonna put another mountain range down here. So I'm gonna have two mountain ranges. And now I want to vary it right now just looks like a white line and a gray line.

And, to me, that's the fun part. That's painting is all about taking paint and transforming it into something else. When does paint start to look like It's something real and that means that I have to add more variety in it. So this mountain range as opposed to this one is going to have more contrast than the one below it, I mean then the one behind it. So I am going to I want this line to stay clean, so I'm going to tape it. So I'm using scotch tape and I make sure the tape always goes outside of the boards so that it's easy to lift later.

And now I don't have to be so careful. With that, I can just go right over the tape and it'll give me a clean line when I remove the tape. And I think I'll put a little color in it sort of came to gray. One of my favorite things to do is every time I try to load up with paint, I change the color a little bit, I add something different. Think was Rauschenberg, his definition of painting was load up your brush and unloaded. Here's a simple definition of painting.

I'm wiping off my paint on paper towel, so that I can apply what's called a dry brush. Just a little bit of color instead of a lot, a little bit more off. I'm just going to keep working it until it starts to, like I said transform into something else. Sometimes it's easy to just say, Oh, looks sort of like it, but I just really like to work and work until it feels like definitely is no longer paint right away. So I actually have this finished to show you so what I would probably do is work on A lot more on getting varieties. So even though I'm working with Gray's here, you can see there's a cool and a warm, there's light and dark, but nothing goes to contrast to you.

Maybe this is a little too contrast to here. I keep looking at it in terms of planes of space and saying, Do these still go back and this looks a little dark. I'm gonna take that out. Let me take the tape off and see what we've got. And as you can see the finished piece I did work on it a lot more. And here is the final piece.

So now I still like having this graphic, hard edge right there. What I'm trying to do is add a little visual tension so that instead of like the piece that I showed you of lose the landscape where you just like an easy ride, going back For my work, I like to add a little throw a wrench in the works there. And so instead of softening this and making it look real, I like the fact that you could still go back in space, there's still more planes. But there's this edge there. That's a little bit of a jolt. And sometimes it's fun to put in something that's a little unexpected, especially for contemporary work.

I thought this was a realistic landscape. Obviously, that wouldn't work. But I like to use the form of contemporary landscape and add something like I said, like a jolt or something unexpected. Let's go back and look at what it looked like before and compare it to the final piece. And if we look at these two together, then you can compare how they feel in terms of the depth of space. And remember this was about it's too boring.

Which one has more interest when you have more plans of space, and more depth. And that's what you're going for in your painting, then you really need to start counting the place. lanes and make sure you have enough for your visual interest. Here's a painting in process. And it's pretty boring. It has the same issue as before.

And I talked about two types of space. One was the depth of space and one is moving across in a design pattern. And this painting being in process, it could go either way, so it's too boring. And to make it more interesting, I could add more planes like I just did to make more of a depth of space. But instead what if I wanted more of that contemporary look, that flat space look like we had in the Gustaf clamped, and we had with Rick Garcia's image here. If we look at these two, they would not be enhanced by a further depth of space.

They are working so well, they're very exciting, because they use shapes and forms that relate to each other. Like here we have a square here. And here we have a square here and here so that I can move in terms of what I call buddies, things that relate to each other form shapes, marks, areas of color, that are similar. also create eye gems where your eye moves from shape and form to another shape form. For instance, here we have a red in the cup, and our I would move to another area of red and then another area of red. Here's a high heart edge, and we could move to another heart edge, and then another one and another.

So, cups, two cups. There's many forms in here that are related without being identical. So you have related forms that vary, and that's what keeps something visually exciting. So a painting can be, it's too boring if you don't have enough visual excitement in the work. And so instead of adding more planes of space, which we did before, here, the idea would be to add more relationships, or a dialog between Mark shapes and forms. I like to think about the things in my paintings as having a chat or a dialogue with each other.

And that's how I look at to see where my eye is moving. Here we have interesting swirly designs. And here we have another swirly design. So Clint has done a good job in creating enough visual interest to keep our eye moving even though it's on this flat surface. Let's go back and look at this painting that I have that's not finished. See, I'll turn it like this.

So instead of adding depth of space, which I could, it's already starting to evoke some kind of depth of space. I would like to go the other way. And I would like to create more visual interest by moving the eye from left to right and within that way. So the first thing I'm going to do is use my favorite tool, which is the idea or the concept of opposites. I look at what's here. And to add visual interest, I'm going to add what's not here.

So I'm going to create some adjectives that I think describe what's happening in here. Now, it has a lot of organic, curvy shapes. It doesn't have hard edge. So anything hard edge, it's going to make a difference in here. The value range, what is the value range, I don't see any one's white or 10. Black, I see a lot of four and five in the middle.

So anything high contrast using a white and a black or light in a dark is going to also add contrast to this. So we have hard edge, we have high contrast. The other thing is recognizable imagery, does it everything's kind of blurry, it looks kind of organic like a garden, but there's nothing definite nothing defined. So anything defined is also going to add a contrast to this and be an iGEM or create a movement. So, I'm going to start with high contrast and hard edge, and I'm going to use my tape and I'm going to create something that's not in here. See squares, you've got lots of curvy shapes.

I'm just going to put some squares down. So I'm gonna start over here and I think I'll put, instead of just one square, I'll put three in a row. One there, one here, I'll move this over. Three, if anything the same can create a pattern and make it also boring. So I'm doing three squares, but I'm gonna have to do something to make each square Different. Got got one, two, and here's my third square.

And I'm gonna make them a little smaller. make cuts straight lines pair. Here we go. It's gonna play with this tape a little bit and make sure that they look like they're not too sloppy Okay, then pick this angle. Such a perfectionist, okay. Now it bothers me because this is big, this is medium, this is small.

I'm going to change it. I keep it that size. Okay. All right. Now, I have my heart edge set up, and I want to add contrast. So I'm going to start by painting them.

Just maybe a bright white. I don't have to be that careful because they're taped. There we go. Now, three white squares. I'm going to add another hard edge somewhere that's not a square and not white. So I think I will put something on the bottom here.

Take that off and I'll do this white and I'll do the other one a different color. So sometimes when I'm trying to put something over dark colors, it's good to paint white as an undercoat. So it looks like I'm painting white on everything but there's no way that I'd be able to get a light color or bright color on this unless I put white on first underneath. And now I'm going to paint this a blue color little lighter. I wanted to stand out a little bit without looking like I'm creating another plane. And this one, I'm just gonna play with a little bit and sort of break it up, make it a little darker down here.

Sometimes there's no reason why you're doing something, you're just doing it because it feels right or just trying to change it a little bit and transform it. I think I will make this a little purple on the top. So now that it's white, I can change it a little bit. And I said hard edge and also high contrast and the third was something defined. So I think what I'll do is Because the background reminds me of something botanical or floral, and add a flower in this it'll also give me I have a lot of these hard edge hard edges that are straight. So I'm going to use a flower.

And it'll allow me to create something that's aligned that's a little bit different. So let's see. Stem like that. Here is the flower stem. Just because I'm working with abstraction doesn't mean I can't add something realistic in there. That's another set of opposites too.

If you have something that looks like a garden, it's nice to have something that's maybe more definitive. So I'm gonna mix a nice warm color because there's a lot of cool colors here. And I'm gonna have a nice little flower here. Okay, before I go into too much detail, I'd like to add a little more detail to that. But before I do that, I'm going to go up here and change something with these. So let's see, I think I will, instead of three white squares, that'll look like somebody just made a mistake and put white on there.

I'm going to kind of add some color to work in here. change a little bit and maybe a little clue on this one. So make each one a little bit different. Little bit of green blue on this one. And one of my favorite ways of painting is to remove paint. Put it on and take it off.

So blurry. Oops. And now I'm going to add something on each one of these. See I have a line here that's kind of organic. I am going to add again a going for high contrast high contrast is usually a pair lights and darks. So I think I'll add a dark line on this one.

And maybe some dark here. Some gestures let's see what I've got so far. I'm gonna remove the tape. My favorite part of taping something very satisfying about being messy and then just peeling off tape and having it look really sharp. I say that as I'm about to get nasty Well, it's it's getting to where I'm starting to like it. I am presenting something that does come forward a little bit, but really the emphasis is going to be a graphic quality moving from from left to right on this.

I do have this painting finished. And after I played with it for a while, here it is. And so you can see that I have added a lot more visual interest without really trying to enhance that depth of space. So this is another solution to it's too boring. Whenever you think your painting is boring. You have two solutions, analyze the space and see if you want more depth, if that would make it more interesting, or do you want more of that graphic decorative quality where you want the viewers eye to move from left to right and bounce along around related objects and related shapes.

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