Monday, July 29, 2013

Monhegan Harbor - unintentional geometry

This morning, my daughter and I were sitting with scone and coffee at the local dock.  She and I chatted and looked at the water, with ferry comings and goings, seagulls, even a couple of lovely young French children with toy swords battling their way up and down the dock a la Erroll Flynn, calling to one another, "Viens ici!" and other phrases I couldn't discern with my decades-old French training.

Then, we both looked closely at this sailboat in the harbor.  I'm hoping you can see it in these photos.
The lines extending from the top of the mast to the bow are aligned exactly with the shift in rocks behind the boat.  From our distance of across the harbor, it read like an illusion, or, for the fantasy reader, like a portal, or horcrux.  The diagonal of the rope is also the demarcation of darker rock and lighter rock.  This is a perfect example of unintended geometry that you must observe and manage in your own paintings. Don't allow an arbitrary arrangement of geometry in your subject create a disconcerting note or passage in your painting.

Step away from your painting frequently, looking from a fresh perspective.  You'll catch false notes, and fix them.  I would have designed with a shortened section of the paler rocks, allowing the line, or implied line to travel up through the darker rocks.  Or, you may decide the angle of the rocks which replicates the geometry of the boat's lines, may make a terrific painting.  My friend Nancy Sargent Howell, uses a technique she calls "prisming" in her paintings.  She sees them, and extrapolates.  See how she uses the subject's geometry in "Laundry and Lines" below.

So, what's the takeaway here?   Go for it. Make your decisions actively, not passively, with your eyes open, with intentionality!  You are the master of your two-dimensional replication of the 3-dimensional world.  Winnie the Pooh says, "Be ware, be very, very ware."  I suggest a slight modification to Pooh's advice, "Be Aware. Be very Aware."
Thanks for looking; feel free to share.

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