Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Left or Right - no it's not politics, it's art!

Seems like even art is weighted to the left or right. To keep yourself fresh, alert, and creative...mind your compositional habits and don't always weigh in on the same side.

From Canadian Artist, Robert Genn's studio.....
Right and left weighting

"Yesterday Ken Flitton wrote: "It has been pointed out that all
of my paintings have a center of interest on the right-hand
side. Generally there's a dark blob on the right because that
seems to be how I like to compose. Is this something to do with
one side of the brain? Do other people have the same problem?
Is it serious and in need of correction? I'm sure it occurs
entirely unconsciously."

Thanks Ken. This is known as right or left weighting and you're
right, it's unconscious, but it's also a habit due to
handedness. We all favor one side or the other. I don't think
it has anything to do with right- or left-brain dominance.
While there are exceptions, right-handed people tend to start
on the right-hand side of the painting and work toward the
left. The reverse is true for lefties. Particularly for those
who use a mahlstick or other hand-leaning device, the habit can
bring a stultifying regularity to compositions.

Getting control of and understanding right-left weighting is a
valuable compositional ploy. Compositions-in-progress are
puzzles that need to be worked out. To hit the reset button,
you've got to consciously put that "dark blob" in a different
spot. And you've got to do it early on. This sets the old brain
into neural paths that enlighten compositions in a new way. If
you produce a lot of similar works in a series, just
alternating your rights and lefts is valuable. Weightings tend
to run in flocks. Particularly when sending a bundle of recent
paintings to a dealer, it's a good idea to line them all up and
give them the old "boring" test.

A problem that arises with habitual placement is the tendency
toward traditional and tired academic ideas of balance. I call
it "standard plonk" because you plonk down a compositional
element in a habituated way. The antidote is to consciously
think out and invent variations--extreme decentralization,
edgemanship, symmetry, interlock, patterning, action outside
the picture plane, and other devices. While it's okay to just
let it flow and to depend on intuition for your compositions,
it's also worthwhile to know that all of our individual
pictorial pathways are loaded with traps. When I'm on jury
duty, indeed, when I'm looking at my own stuff, I'm constantly
amazed at how we fall into these traps with stunning

"A work of art is a collection of signs invented during
execution to suit the needs of their position." (Henri Matisse)

"Composition is the art of controlling the observer." (Robert

"A composition is the organized sum of the interior
functions of every part of the work." (Wassily Kandinsky)

The Painter's keys

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