Thursday, February 16, 2012

Five Important Rules

I am in the midst of a design class with Dena Crain through Quilt University - more details on that in my next post! It most definitely has heightened my attention to what makes for a great art quilt.

Tuesday morning's emails included one from Robert Glenn of his Twice Weekly Newsletter. Robert is an artist who shares his thoughts on a multitude of issues, ideas, inspirational themes. There is a discussion that ensues on the topics afterwards that really enhances the materials. And, his website is rich in inspirational resources.

I usually find Robert's writings relevant to myself as a quilt artist. This Tuesday's email was in complete sychronicity with material that I was reading for Dena's class. Robert's email was entitled "Five Skills Worth Learning." The skills included drawing mastery, color mastery, abstract understanding, compositional mastery, and emotional evolution.

It wouldn't be proper for me to simply copy Robert's material here but I did ask his permission to share some of his thoughts on two items.

Abstract understanding doesn't mean arbitrary sloshing and messing. Abstract art is controlled visual magic based on laws and methodology. Abstraction generally involves implication, suggestion and mystery rather that obvious description. Like a good poem, a good abstraction attacks your feelings before your understanding. Abstraction within realism adds zest and excitement to otherwise dull subject matter. Abstract understanding takes time and patience.

Compositional mastery is a variety of traditional rules that beg to be broken. That's why composition is the queen of the skills. With composition you learn to control and play with the eye and move it within the picture plane. Composition includes the golden mean, the rule of thirds, big and small, dark and light, activation, circulation, focus, pattern, stoppage and a pile of other ploys, many of them developed by you and unique to yourself. Compositional mastery also means the avoidance of lineups, homeostasis, and a jungle road of potholes too tedious and disheartening to include in a 500-word letter. Learn to compose intelligently in your own vocabulary and you can get away with murder. Compositional mastery takes time and patience.
If you find these thoughts intriguing, I would encourage you to seek out Robert's site and consider joining in the conversation.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, God bless Robert Genn! The rule about "slopping" was taught to me some years ago in my watercolour classes. Some of my fellow students wanted to jump right into abstraction. Bless our teacher, Sharon Lynn Williams; she affirmed what Genn has written: you have to know the basics, have a good foundation -- before you can achieve the control and eye that abstraction requires. Who knew?

    Looking forward to hearing about your class with Dena.