Design Before Drawing
Previously, I had showcased the work of Georgia O'Keeffe. Through that research I learned about Arthur Wesley Dow. His book, "Composition: A Series Of Exercises In Art Structure For The Use Of Students And Teachers" was a strong influence on O'Keeffe.
Arthur Wesley Dow's emphasis on compositional elements was considered groundbreaking when published in 1914. I read the book today and really enjoyed it. Even though I've been painting and drawing for a long time, I still walked away with some different approaches to compositional elements that I plan to use in my sketchbook.
Here are some of portions of the book that resonated with me:
Elements of Composition:
- Opposition: two lines coming together
- Transition: the introduction of a third line
- Subordination: the element in a piece that plays a supporting role
- Repetition: Dow relates this to the beats in music
- Symmetry: how elements balance
The book continues with a detailed discussion of the different design elements and examples of how it's seen in fine art, architecture, decorative art, and textiles. He then challenges the reader with focused exercises.
"This relation among the parts of a composition is what we call beauty, and it begins to exist with the first few lines drawn."
He describes three essential elements of harmony:
- Notan: balance between dark and light/value contrast
He recommends a variety of exercises in different scales of Notan, these are pictured below.
He describes color harmony as consisting of 1: Hue 2: Notan 3: Intensity