Research Point: The Golden Mean

19/11/15

Research Point: The Golden Mean

Research the Golden Mean (also known as the Golden Ratio or Golden Section) and its application to artistic composition. Don’t get bogged down in the maths of this. Essentially the Golden Mean is a proportion in which a straight line or rectangle is divided into two unequal parts in such a way that the ratio of the smaller to the greater part is the same as the ratio of the greater part to the whole.

Creating the Golden Ratio video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_eTw5lKKzmk#

(Apologies for the music and advert – that’s YouTube for you!)

Examples of the Golden Mean may be found regularly in nature:

golden mean - Google Search:

Inside a shell showing how the Golden Mean may be seen in nature

 

Find out also about the rule of thirds in landscape. Renaissance artists realised that placing the main subject in the centre of a composition often led to unsatisfactory results. It’s possible to get a more balanced composition by splitting the canvas into thirds, both horizontally and vertically, and placing the main subject on one of these lines or at the intersection point of any two lines…

Image result for the rule of thirds in landscape paintings:

An illustration showing the rule of thirds in a landscape composition

 

... Another way of thinking about this is to plan your landscape in terms of foreground, middle ground and background.

 

 

 

 

Look on the internet and find some examples of landscape paintings that exemplify these compositional principles.

Landscape by Dorrit Black an example of the Golden Mean:

Landscape by Dorrit Black an example of the Golden Mean

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

golden mean in landscape paintings - Google Search:

Landscape by Constable illustrating use of the Golden Mean

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

golden mean in landscape paintings - Google Search:

The Great Wave off Kanagawa Golden mean in landscape paintings

Emil_Nolde_marsh with farm Rule of thirds:

Marsh with Farm by Emil Nolde Rule of Thirds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Landscape by Thomas Cole Rule of Thirds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Research Point: Expressive Landscape

11/11/15

Research Point: Expressive Landscape

Look at the eerie, dream-like landscapes painted by the Surrealists…

Solitude by Salvador Dali:

Solitude by Savador Dali

Woman, Old Man and Flower by Max Ernst:

Woman, Old Man and Flower by Max Ernst

 

Surrealism was a movement that was very much in vogue when I was taking art in school. I found them fascinating, clever and strange – now I still see the skill but some I find too convoluted, probably down to the cynicism that enveloped me as I got older.

 

 

 

The Uncertainty of the Poet by Georgio De Chirico:

The Uncertainty of the Poet by Georgio De Chirico

Consider the work of some artists who have sought to express the more emotional and subjective aspects of landscape…

Road at Porthclais with Setting Sun (1975) by Graham Sutherland:

Road at Porthclais with Setting Sun (1975) by Graham Sutherland

 

Having poured over many of Graham Sutherland’s paintings on-screen, I am completely hooked. He encompasses everything I struggle yet aspire to achieve. His sense of colour evokes atmosphere and mood whereas mine is mud – his balance of composition leads you around his paintings and leaves you wondering. I am in awe as he combines his draughtsmanship and emotion into a coherent vision yet maintains the mystery of the image.

 

 

Western Hills 1938 by Graham Sutherland:

Western Hills 1938 by Graham Sutherland

We Are Making a New World (1918) by Paul Nash:

We Are Making a New World (1918) by Paul Nash

Summer Soltice by Paul Nash:

Summer Solstice by Paul Nash

Being a war artist in the First World War, Nash had obviously embedded his emotional reactions to what he witnessed within his work. His war paintings I find, are quite matter of fact in their handling, yet the colours and expressions on faces leave no doubt as to the suffering. He shows this suffering not only of the soldiers but the land itself. I feel that he was a positive thinking man, he liked to show hope by bringing in the sun’s rays of a new dawn – even rendering Spring in the Trenches, Ridge Wood as a new beginning.

 

Look at landscape paintings by the German Expressionists…. and by artists of the Symbolist movement…

The work of Emil Nolde is mostly new to me – I find it wonderfully colourful and evocative. The sense of wild abandon that has been tamed into a rectangular painting, a balance of letting paint do its thing yet in a way that he wants. Again, a skill to which I aspire but that is frustratingly elusive.

Dark Landscape North Friesland by Emil Nolde:

Dark Landscape North Friesland by Emil Nolde

Dark Sea with Brown Sky by Emil Nolde:

Dark Sea with Brown Sky by Emil Nolde

Italian Horticultural Landscape by Gustav Klimt:

Italian Horticultural Landscape by Gustav Klimt

Coloured sketch by Gustave Moreau:

Coloured sketch by Gustave Moreau

The work I’ve seen by Gustave Moreau is really interesting. His landscapes are so expressive and loose, dripping in atmosphere yet the figures he puts in them are classical and seem oddly out of place to me. It’s as if he is painting in two different eras.

Bakst, Léon: project design for Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune:

Project design for Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune

The Love-Embrace of the Universe 1949 by Frida Kahlo:

The Love-Embrace of the Universe 1949 by Frida Kahlo

 

Research Point: Evolution of Landscape Painting

Research Point: Evolution of Landscape Painting

Do your own research into the evolution of landscape painting from the eighteenth century to the present day… Note particularly some of the ways in which modern and contemporary artists have chosen to interpret this genre. To what extent does contemporary landscape painting reflect environmental concerns, for example?

I have begun to use Pinterest to collate my research as suggested by the OCA.

Board https://www.pinterest.com/ginaemmett/evolution-of-landscape/

18th Century Landscape Painting:

Francis Towne (1739 or 1740 – July 7, 1816) was a British watercolour landscape painter.:

Francis Towne (1739 or 1740 – July 7, 1816) was a British watercolour landscape painter.

This is a charming watercolour landscape and am probably getting ahead of myself, but is a great example of aerial perspective.

Haytley, Edward. “The Montagu Family at Sandleford Priory.” 1744.:

Edward Haytley. “The Montagu Family at Sandleford Priory.” 1744

What I would call a  traditional landscape by a painter I am not familiar with. Personally, it leaves me a little cold as a picture, however, I see skill and aerial perspective and elements of the use of the rule of thirds or golden ration. It is also a falsely romanticised rendition of 18th century rural life.

Thomas Gainsborough, Wooded Landscape with Shepherd Resting in a Sunny Path and Sheep, c.1746, Rijksmuseum Twenthe, Netherlands:

Thomas Gainsborough, Wooded Landscape with Shepherd Resting in a Sunny Path and Sheep, c.1746, Rijksmuseum Twenthe, Netherlands

This has much more life and movement than the previous example. It has a softness of colour and brush strokes that evoke a quiet moment on a sunny day. The play of light seems to be the focus and although, it is again a romanticised image, it has more reality as just a moment in time.

19th Century Landscape Painting:

‘Märkisch Lake in the Evening, 1890s - Lesser Ury (1861–1931):

Märkisch Lake in the Evening, 1890s – Lesser Ury (1861–1931)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A beautiful, atmospheric painting showing a gentle evening light. Not overworked, just lovely.

John Constable, Weymouth Bay from the Downs above Osmington Mills, about 1816, 22 x 30 3/8 in.:

John Constable, Weymouth Bay from the Downs above Osmington Mills, about 1816, 22 x 30 3/8 in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A small oil sketch of Weymouth, which appears to have been painted in situ, I like this because, there are still stretches of this coastline that still has this desolate feeling. I think it’s almost a shame that Constable has added the figures into the picture, although it does give a sense of scale.

20th Century Landscape Painting:

This is going to be difficult to choose from this century, two world wars, women coming into their own, industrialisation, intensive farming, urban planning – the landscape itself changed so much in this century not to mention the variety of painting genres!

'Monte Oliveto' (1912) by English painter & interior designer Vanessa Bell (1879-1961). via Miss folly:

‘Monte Oliveto’ (1912) by English painter & interior designer Vanessa Bell (1879-1961).

An artist that my tutor has told me to look out for (along with Duncan Grant) and after scouring the BBC Your Paintings website I totally understand why. Both are very emotive painters and this landscape is warm and welcoming as I’m sure this place was. It’s a happy place with good memories for the artist, I’m sure. However, I can also see that it could be painted very differently with cooler colours and evoke a menacing, almost claustrophobic mood with those imposing trees.

The Village, 1918. Jean Dominique Antony Metzinger was a major 20th-century French painter, theorist, writer, critic and poet, born in Nantes, France, who, along with Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, and Albert Gleizes, developed the art style known as Cubism.:

The Village, 1918. Jean Dominique Antony Metzinger was a major 20th-century French painter, theorist, writer, critic and poet, born in Nantes, France, who, along with Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, and Albert Gleizes, developed the art style known as Cubism.

I decided on this example as many others I had “pinned” will crop up later. I really like the sense of pattern in this painting, yet it is still clearly a landscape with both natural and urban elements.

Richard Diebenkorn:

Richard Diebenkorn

I am unsure of the title of this Diebenkorn painting but I like everything about it. It’s abstract, yet to me, I see the ground laid out beneath me as if in a plane with the clouds parting to reveal my destination. Clearly a landscape and I see the warmth of the sun casting its colours on the hills.

21st Century Landscape Painting:

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Volcanic painting by Diane Burko

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Tracking the melting ice caps – Diane Burko

Diane Burko is an American artist and photographer renowned for her natural landscape work.  She is committed to raising awareness of the impact of climate change on the planet and has been working on a major project regarding the melting of the polar ice caps.

Alexis Rockman at Sperone Westwater | New York Art Tours:

Alexis Rockman at Sperone Westwater | New York Art Tours

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Alexis Rockman

Alexis Rockman another American artist who has used his art to inform and educate on environmental issues such as climate change, pollution of rivers and the suggested dangers of genetically modified food.