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Thread: Apple Still-life Composition Based Rework

  1. #1
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    Apple Still-life Composition Based Rework

    I will be going through the exercise of reworking the following from a compositional perspective.

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    I am using this process to learn and apply principles of composition. I am NEW to composition so I am no expert, but I thought some might find watching me go through the exercise interesting.


    The above is what I settled on as a final version cropping of the following entire canvas, which as you can see has not been completed in detail everywhere.

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    In thinking about what this work is to me, and what the areas of interest should be the obvious answer is the apple. The interest in the apple itself is augmented by its shadow on its surroundings and it reflections in the surroundings. If one were to try to describe a pattern of interest here I would say it is roughly triangular, moving about and through the details of the apple's edges, its highlight, the stem, the reflection on the white jar as well as through the shadow and the reflection.



    This is roughly what I guess is the pattern of interest:

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    No armature for the picture was planned, there seems to be (ignoring the background for now) three higher value masses, the lighter portions of the jars and the apple, interspersed with three darker value masses represented by the dark area of the apple and greenish jar, the darker area of the white jar as well as the dark table. A secondary mass might be represented by the reflection of the green jar in the white jar and the reflection of the apple in the table (although this last is so subtle and dark it arguably does not exist currently)


    This roughly shows what I see as the higher value masses:

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    Next time we will actually start trying to frame, and adjust the composition in view of the above analysis. The approach will be to mostly work with what we have but adjust it as necessary.


    Cheers!

  2. #2
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    More kibitzing here. The word to keep in mind is 'relationships'. When shapes all carry about the same weight, then you have a calm picture and one that's more on the static side which has a psychological connotation that perhaps would suggest stability or stasis. If you want drama or dynamics, you would want to shift proportions which makes it more like a race for dominance. And when you have that, it creates a sequence and you can use that sequence of what gets noticed first, second etc and thus the eye can be lead throughout the canvas in the order you want them to see it.

    Dynamics makes a different statement on whatever level the picture is working. It tends to pull in the viewer more. For me it isn't aesthetics first, but rather it's having the aesthetics serve what psychological impact the artist wants to make. If you can make an apple and two cylinders interesting, you're on your way. And it's very doable.

    I would first shoot for what interests you (trying various croppings and arranging elements forward and back, moving your lighting, casting clever shadows and so on as another way to add interest) and thus find what is the vocabulary you can use to articulate and emphasize that pleasing arrangement for you. And then make the statement. With time all that will compress into a shorthand that will become second nature and you will diddle with it and know where to go in short order. Meantime, this is very cool what you're doing.

    Well done.
    "Not a bit is wasted and the best is yet to come. . ." -- remembered from a dream

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by D Akey View Post
    More kibitzing here. The word to keep in mind is 'relationships'. When shapes all carry about the same weight, then you have a calm picture and one that's more on the static side which has a psychological connotation that perhaps would suggest stability or stasis. If you want drama or dynamics, you would want to shift proportions which makes it more like a race for dominance. And when you have that, it creates a sequence and you can use that sequence of what gets noticed first, second etc and thus the eye can be lead throughout the canvas in the order you want them to see it.

    Dynamics makes a different statement on whatever level the picture is working. It tends to pull in the viewer more. For me it isn't aesthetics first, but rather it's having the aesthetics serve what psychological impact the artist wants to make. If you can make an apple and two cylinders interesting, you're on your way. And it's very doable.

    I would first shoot for what interests you (trying various croppings and arranging elements forward and back, moving your lighting, casting clever shadows and so on as another way to add interest) and thus find what is the vocabulary you can use to articulate and emphasize that pleasing arrangement for you. And then make the statement. With time all that will compress into a shorthand that will become second nature and you will diddle with it and know where to go in short order. Meantime, this is very cool what you're doing.

    Well done.
    Thank you for your comments and observations.. much to think about.

    For this piece in particular I am going to keep the adjustments to a minimum. So it might not be possible to get anywhere near what one could starting from scratch.

    As for the "well done" thank you... but we're just starting the rework... and well, it still could go either way!

  4. #4
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    I. Cropping


    The following is the original cropped version with a harmonic armature superimposed. It essentially connects all four corners and all half-way points to each other. This allows one to look at the spatial arrangement in relation to the rectangular frame, which frame is very important as it defines the entire space of the work. Persons with a little geometry will see that the points coinciding with the "rule of thirds" are present where three lines intersect in the interior of the rectangle.


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    It's apparent that the forms and points of interest are not aligned along the harmonic points and lines.

    Taking this only as a guide to what can be appealing to the eye, I arranged the armature on the Canvas stretching (changing the aspect ratio) optimally.


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    I then made a selection and cropped to the new frame. As one can see, the armature intersects at some key points and roughly along some lines the outer surface of the apple and its shadow as well as intersecting at the main highlight and the strong edged stem.


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    The final resulting framing/cropping using the apple and the harmonic armature is as follows.


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    Now that we have something which should translate into optimal spacing, clearly we can start analyzing what does and does not work and think about what can be done to fix it.

  5. #5
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    II. Analysis


    So what are some of the big flaws (we'll get back to the smaller ones when we refine the work)?

    a. The negative spaces to the left are possibly a bit too barren.
    b. The high contrast and strong edges of the table distract attention (and block the eye movement into the work from the bottom) of the viewer rather than helping to guide them into the work.
    c. The horizontal bottom edges of the jars have high contrast and strong edges which is distracting and can lead the viewer (especially that of the white jar) out of the picture.
    d. The unmodulated highlights of the two jars also allow the viewer to just slide off the top edge of the frame.
    e. The space between the two jars is distracting (saturation, contrast, as well as strong edges) and also leads right out of the work.
    f. The unmodulated highlight on the right hand side of the white jar leads the eye right out of the frame.

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    ...
    Last edited by DarkOwnt; 06-19-2018 at 12:39 PM.

  6. #6
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    III. Rough Fixes


    In an exercise to gauge possible fixes to the above, some rough fixes were applied in a layer to get a sense of what could be accomplished with them.

    The following shows a few adjustments to the problem areas. NOTE: They are NOT as subtle as they would need to be in a final work, but they help to confirm the problems by providing a feel for their absence.

    e. The bright background contrast area has been subdued greatly. It now has roughly the same value as the shadow of the surfaces between the jars and is no longer highly saturated, the edges also have been greatly de-emphasized. This has addressed the problem satisfactorily for now, and since there is no need to remove it completely I will leave it until I revisit it later.

    b.-c. The edges on the horizontal lines have been de-emphasized greatly. This has been done in a not so subtle way so as to see how it affects the work as a whole. Certainly the eye is not as tempted to go to or stay on these areas. In a final version (if they remain) I have to keep in mind that the de-emphasis will need to be subtler so as not to throw off the work as looking "blurry". Note also, this was in part processed to de-emphasize the edges. Final de-emphasis will be more subtle and achieved in a more painterly style. The horizontal line under the green jar is already in a dark area with little contrast so I can get away with much less de-emphasis of the edge there. On the white jar, the edge and value difference is more problematic... edge de-emphasis may not suffice without looking too artificial. Although the edge emphasis in the table near the reflection draws some attention there, and the de-emphasis elsewhere tends to keep attention away from the edge of the frame, the use of double bars, primarily horizontal and going across the entire bottom, may need revisiting.

    d., f. Subtle but not so subtle gradients have been added to darken the table on the right edge to move the viewer into the work, this was also done on the green and white jars at the top and on the white jar at the right. The idea is to gently move the viewer inwards rather than to allow them to slide off the work. As with the considerations about the edges, the gradients which appear artificial would have to be subdued, which reduces their effectiveness, and as a result I may have to rethink the structure of the work, the right jar being white as well as its not being in shadow make it slightly problematic, as well as both jars extending past the top of the work...

    a. Nothing about the negative spaces has yet been done, but some detailing whether in the form of design elements on the objects or simply surface flaws in the green jar and table could be arranged to subtly occupy the spaces (less conspicuous) and yet gently move the viewer to the apple.

    To make this more interesting, reflections of the apple in the right jar and the table could be punched up just a little.




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    It's clear that an actual fix will need to involve more than mere edge and gradient introduction.

    Many options are presenting themselves, such as the possibility of other apples or jars casting shadows in ways which improve the armature (dark and light masses) and possibly remove trouble areas at the same time (and since less light is coming from diffuse lighting of those areas it provides an opportunity for a clearer reflection of the apple). One idea is that a shadow could break up the horizontal of the table and combined with an adjusted edge provide a path into the work. Another shadow could obviate the problem with the bottom edge of the white jar, and or I could just darken the entire jar to grey or give it an indigo cast to complement the green (and also the reds and yellows of the apple). As for the green jar, a darker grey lid atop a rounded upper edge of the green jar might just do the trick.

    The next post will include, in very rough form, some of these and/or other attempts at a fix. I will likely need some more time to work on these so until then.

    Cheers!

  7. #7
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    Interesting just how much of a difference the removal of the lighter coloured area between the two jars made. Nice to see the process!
    Dave
    Resident Bug-Hunter / Technical Support
    Ambient Design

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveRage View Post
    Interesting just how much of a difference the removal of the lighter coloured area between the two jars made. Nice to see the process!
    Indeed the space between the jars is more of an issue than the others which are much more subtle. Thank you for the kind words.

  9. #9
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    This is a beautiful painting

  10. #10
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    Thank you pat1940!

    My goal is to make it more beautiful...

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