Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Book Review: Composition

Waterman's Pond
reference for this came from the lovely Jeanette Jobson here
9 in x 12 in, brush and ink on bristol board
Thanks to Jeanette for her generosity in sharing this with me and allowing me to post it here!


For my composition research this month I read through Arthur Wesley Dow's Composition: Understanding Line, Notan, and Color. (It made me desperately want to start doing some more brush and ink drawings, I just needed a reference that had flowing lines and a sparse enough landscape for me to be able to simplify it. Then Jeanette posted this and graciously shared it with me.)

Dow's book has been around for a long time and has been reviewed before, so I'll just offer a few brief thoughts.

As a warning...
This isn't a book you read once and master, it's a book you dip into time and again.

As a caveat...
There are exercises scattered throughout that are probably helpful (I did not have time to do them this month.) I intend to make time later to do those exercises. Actually, Robyn has been doing some of them to great effect.

I would never have thought...
to look at textiles and rugs for shape, pattern, or palette inspiration, but Dow constantly encourages this.

Greatest benefit for me...
the emphasis on shape and pattern. Let me elaborate. This week I've been trying to find a reference photo to start a new project and haven't been satisfied with anything I've come across. Why is this? Some how I think that the shape/value/pattern ideas I've been reading about are making an impact. I just couldn't find any photos that spoke to me on a notan sort of level. While this is frustrating in the short term, I do think it is for the betterment of my art in the long run.

As an ender...
As this book was written a long time ago, it does take a bit of effort to get into it. It isn't written in the casual style so common today. That is to say, there aren't bells and whistles here, but if you are willing to put in the effort, there is good stuff to be found in this book.

6 comments:

Ann said...

This is lovely, Rose. Have you done much watercolor? Your brush and ink work here looks so masterful yet I know from experience it is very hard to do and requires a lot of restraint, which I had very little of! Hope you do some more like this!

Jeanette said...

This is a very good painting Rose. You've done the pond justice.

I must have a look for that book, it sounds as if it has a lot of useful advice.

Rose Welty said...

Thanks ladies, you've made my day!

Ann, I got a watercolor set when I was like 12. I spent hours and made only mud. It put me off painting in general and watercolor in particular. Last year I decided to give painting another try...tried a bit of acrylics, still in disaster mode there I'm afraid. I'm still too scared to try the watercolors, very unforgiving medium. The brush and ink just feels like drawing to me, I haven't done much of it, but I do like it alot.

Jeanette, I almost called it, "one reason to I wish I was Jeanette." :-)

Jeanette said...

That's funny Rose :) You made me laugh out loud at work. People will think I'm crazier than they already know I am!

The benefit of living in Newfoundland is that there is a lot of undeveloped wilderness so plenty of potential for drawing and painting.

Robyn said...

This is beautiful, Rose. It has a wonderful Japanese flavour. I bet Dow would be pleased too. It has really done justice to Jeanette's lovely photograph. I'd love to see you do more of these brush and ink pictures.
And what a lovely surprise to find you have linked to my efforts. Thank you, I'm honored.

Rose Welty said...

Robyn, I should have told you that I linked to you, I'm sorry. I've been a bit scattered lately. It was my pleasure, your blog is fun to read.