Shaping a Vision of Cornwall - The Art of Tom Henderson Smith

Painting: Stream flowing to the sea, Cot Valley Painting: Summer sea Painting: Leaving harbour, Newlyn Painting: Winter Sun

Archive for December, 2007

Shape and direction in my work

Thursday, December 13th, 2007

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An aspect of painting and drawing that I wanted to write about and invite your comments on is the whole business of shape and direction in both picture formats and forms within compositions. This is something I’m very aware of with my own work but I suspect it’s important to a great many artists.

For example I find that, for me, the shapes of picture formats influence the way I read them.

A vertical rectangle mazey_day-small.jpg hints at reading down or up the picture which can enhance the feeling of the energy of shapes grouped within it.

Likewise a markedly horizontal format  mackeral_sky-small.jpg seems to invite reading across the picture as in a panorama, so much so that with very long pieces I’ve often broken such surfaces down into square sections partly to slow up the eye, partly to simplify shapes and allow for variations on a theme from one square to the next.

Then there’s the square format itself. To me equal height and width imply something very resolved and settled, a quality I sometimes use

to suggest contained stresses  small_down_wind.jpg , sometimes to underline a feeling of balance  floating_harbour-small.jpg already inherent in the shapes within the picture.

 

An interesting variation occurs when a square is tilted onto one of its corners.

Now its sides all become 45 degree angles often suggesting heightened tension and giving impact to the forms contained by them, either highlighting their stresses  lafrowda_04.jpg or livening up more low key elements such as seascape shapes around a horizon line  image2.jpg.

Such up-ended square compositions make a strong visual statement on any wall due to their marked diagonals whilst these diagonal sides also make them look very much at home hanging on a staircase.

Within any picture format the way that forms pick up on an implied geometry of proportion small_sea_salt_sail.jpg is also something that fascinates me and that I often use.

Another quality I like to use is what I think of as the dovetailing image3.jpg of shapes with other shapes.

To me all such phenomena create visual rhythms which complement the colours and tones I’m using and together with them can give me a sense of the piece having a life of its own, re-presenting something I’ve seen in a way that may refer to a specific place or time but aims at a celebration of it rather than a slavish imitation.

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