Wednesday, March 9, 2011

composition, Birge Harrison and the diva theory

10x10 oil on board in progress
I have been once again rereading Birge Harrison's Landscape Painting.  Sometimes as a painter/writer in the early 1900's he can be rather verbose so I will shorten it. In his chapter labeled Composition he starts out by saying, "There are so many millions of good compositions in the world  that it seems strange any one should ever waste time on a bad one. The good ones lie at every turn in the road." He later says he will focus on the don'ts. Now here is the important part, " The first and far most important of these is, "don't  try to say two things on one canvas." Any motive that is worth painting must have a central point of interest. Concentrate on that and sacrifice everything to it." 
It struck me to be just like my diva theory, there can only be one diva in a painting. If the spotlight goes on another actress/actor, the diva will always throw a fit and the play/painting will fail.
I thought about this yesterday when working on my Chinocoteague paintings. The sky and the trees must be second if the reflection and the harmony with the deer is to be first.
As per a few requests, here is a detail of the deer.
PS His second don't is never to divide the space in half, make a low horizon or high horizon, never ever what I intentionally did- put the horizon in the center. Some rules are meant to be broken. I hope I get away with it.


Janelle Goodwin said...

There is a sense of peace and harmony in this painting. Even the deer seem to be content. So very lovely, Loriann.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it’s just beautiful. So glad you broke the rules (lol)….

Caroline said...

This is simply magical.

loriann said...

Thank you Janelle, the queen of tranquil!!!

Thank you too Maggie! Some rules are meant to be at least tested, if not broken.

Thanks so much Caroline!

B Boylan said...

Wow, what a glow you have going on here Loriann. It's beautiful.
The Diva is right on stage, but sometimes she leaves a tiny bit of room for a supporting actress or two. :)

Double "D" said...

Hi B,
Now I see. The reflection and glow really pulls it together. I really like it now. Harrison's theory on compositions sounds right to me. I like this guy ... NEVER put the horizon line half way from top to bottom. You can get away with it but it just sticks in my throat whenever I think about it. You rule breaker you. The thoughts on central points of interest is so well said.

I'm off to find a central point.
Keep healing B,

loriann said...

Hi Brenda, Thank you! And yes and supporting actress is needed, but never stealing the limelight, don't you think?

Hi PB,
I am glad you like it now. I will let it sit and decide what is next, if anything. Sorry about gagging you with the halfzie thing.
I will check to see your central point.
Thanks for the well wishes.
Thanks, b

Domi said...

Is this the one I saw in person today? If so, the picture just does not do it justice. Wow. It is gorgeous.

loriann said...

Hi Domi!
Yes, this is the one you saw today. Thank you so much for your kind words about it. Thank you too for stopping by to visit. It was great to catch up with you!

Katherine van Schoonhoven said...

It positively glows with beautiful light! Wish I could see this in person. You know a lot, and yet you continue to be willing to learn more and more. Seems to me, though, that your ideas about things leads you on the right path!

B Lancton said...

You broke the rules and did so beautifully. This painting has a serenity about it that I love, that makes me want to stare at it indefinitely. It creates a bit of longing in my heart - very lovely.

loriann said...

Thanks Kvan! I wish you could see it in person too. I have watched your constant learning curve and seen your excitement. It seems the goal is to never allow that curiosity to wither. Enjoy!

Hi Bea! Thank you so much for your kind words!

Casey Klahn said...

I agree with Kvan about the glow. That is impressive.

I am struggling with this singular idea concept in the studio right now, so I add my appreciation for Birge Harrison's quote.

Anonymous said...

Hi Loriann,
Birge Harrison painted some beautiful poetic paintings. He had some good pointers but placing the horizon in the middle creates an interesting challenge to deal with.
I wish that a museum would have an exhibition of his paintings. I have his book and yes I need to get back to it- for it is a bit dense but full of solid information. To think back in his day someone who put a dead shark in formaldehyde was considered to be a taxidermist not an artist. BTW- the close up of your 10x 10 untitled oil painting is a landscape unto itself-absolutely beautiful. I like those accents that you added-the two deer-providing a rest point for the eye. Your eye goes to them and then takes in the rest of the landscape. The deer are becoming part of your artistic shorthand.


loriann said...

Hi Casey, Glow, you too? Birge Harrison has a number of good things to say. Do you have his book. I think it is free online. bought it from Amazon for very little.

Hi NJ! So you have the book. It is a very good one, dense as you say. His paintings are soulful. I do wish a museum would create a show of his work. i don't believe I have ever seen one in person. I do believe that the Tonalist show that was in NYC last month had one or two paintings.
Thank you about the deer...they have been my struggle...or one of my struggles.
PS I didn't know about the shark.