- Lesson Details
In week one, instructor Glenn Vilppu will provide you an overview of the main elements in composition and explains the idea of movement and force. You will learn how to arrange the picture frame in a way that moves the viewer’s eye and create a sense of liveliness to your compositions. Glenn also teaches you how to analyze the movement in several masterworks.
Throughout this course, you’ll have access to the NMA community for feedback and critiques to improve your work as you progress.
Transcription not available.
Now, what I am trying to get across is talking about composition.
I've had friends who studied with very prominent painters for many, many years,
but never mentioned the word once.
And in fact, when he did mention, he says, I don't know what composition is.
We're talking about people that published, very prominent people.
Composition in a sense really has almost disappeared.
So what I'm trying to do is reintroduce the process of
thinking, of composing a picture.
We're talking about composing, not just paintings, sculpture, composing anything.
So the first question is, okay, what is composition?
Composition to start with is if you think of the just the word it's organization,
that's when you're composing something, you're organizing something what you're
talking about, music for, whatever it is.
Doesn't make any difference.
Okay, then we're talking about, what is the purpose for composition?
What do you, what do you, what's the process?
What are you organizing for?
You use the analogy of music.
Well, you have been slow movements, fast movements.
Every piece of music has a totally different experience to it.
They're all different, but they all compose.
They all have very clear conceived elements that take
and create that experience.
We do exactly the same visually.
We do exactly the same thing architecturally.
We take, and we, everybody looks back to the Greeks.
In fact, much of the Renaissance thinking ideas were from a manuscript
that was found on Monte Cassino that was called the vitruvius manuscript.
Everybody's familiar with DaVinci, circle and the square of the figure.
That wasn't DaVinci's idea.
In fact, he didn't even originate that as an illustration from this
manuscript is called the Vitruvian man.
This is what DaVinci's is called, and there's lots of studying done as well.
This architect, he was the military architect to the emperor Augustus.
And he was going back and he was talking about going back to the Greeks
and he designed all kinds of things, but he basically came down to the
idea that everything was based on man.
So now in the proportions of man, now, we still contribute that idea, but the idea
is we're talking about how proportions affect the experience that you're taking.
So everything, what we're talking about visually is all of the elements that
combine to take and create an experience.
Now, if we go back, we generally caught me say, well Renaissance, the
composition really begins with Giotto.
Now what did Giotto do?
Well, it was, he was taking and part of the neoplatonic movement where
individualizing people in the paintings, they weren't just symbols anymore.
They were like real people.
And so what he was doing is he was taking and communicating stories.
Well, he can tell you a story.
What you're dealing with is the idea of going from one sequence
or one event to another event.
It's not a static image.
It's not a symbol, it's actually a story.
So what evolves from that then is the ability to take and
communicate ideas visually and to create a certain experience.
So in doing this, then the organization was such that you could lead the eye
from one element to another element.
That's taking and using organization to communicate an idea.
Well now at the same time, if we take and think about the, where did these
then essentially with Giotto particularly that we're talking about frescos.
Where did these frescos go?
Well, they were in the church well they're on a wall.
So here we find the situation now where the content has to take in
function within certain environment.
So we have this environment that we have to take and deal with.
So one of the things, so there's a, we think of a Romanesque church.
Well, it's basically a box.
So if you look at Giotto, if you go and look at the originals, you'll be amazed
first of all, how large they are.
They're not small because they're rather large pieces.
And as we go through, you find that he actually painted the frame.
And so we have a series of segments.
It's like like very large comic book and it's really the same thing.
Exactly the same thing.
And so the idea of doing this say, okay, so what's the process that,
how do, how do we, how do we do this?
Well, first of all, let me take and go through a series of simple
diagramming things here to take and try to get the idea across.
Now, if I start out with a very, very simple, if I take
and do something like this,
what is it?
There's no organization there.
So what do you do?
Well, let's just take or use a different color and you start to take
it and the big element and organizing something is simplifying, clarifying it.
So now if I take this and I say, well, let's assume now that we're
taking and working within a frame.
Now what I'm going to do is start to simplify, well, we got - you can
see these verticals and I'm starting to take, and you see that line,
there is very similar to that line.
This has got part of that same line going here.
Maybe I'll simplify this.
We can see this and we got a series of lines going like this.
And I'll even take and adjust that to go along as well.
So what I'm doing, and you can see we've got a horizontal going here.
By taking it and I have simplified the thing.
So we have a series of
just a half a dozen or fewer different kinds of angles.
That'd be can see them very clear.
So there's a certain sense of organization.
Now, for instance, if I start to say lining things up a little bit and
move this over and we started deal and we start to build through that.
Doing that is we're taking and organizing elements within the
context of this frame, but in a sense
there's a - this is a two dimensional, basically repeating the frames,
repeating the frame, repeating the frame, repeating the frame.
Then you've got the series of diagonals going through.
Yeah, what we have sort of a neutral thing set up here.
There's no particular movement in here.
There's no, we're not going anywhere.
Now I want to take and draw a distinction that often is not made.
You see, there are numerous books on on composition that you see written
where people are taking and talking about the secrets of the old masters.
There aren't any bloody secrets.
If you recognize just willing to see really what it is.
There's a difference between here now, for instance, and we're going
to be, as we go through these lessons, you're going to see a constant.
As we progress through these things, it's going to get
progressively more complicated.
And so we will keep adding each lesson is going to be adding an element on
top of the things as we progress.
Eventually the idea is we're talking about, I'm a figurative painter.
We're talking about figure composition essentially, but the fundamentals
are applicable to anything literally, whether it's advertising, it's all
based on the same fundamentals.
It's how you control the eye.
What of - how you - what kind of an experience are you creating?
So these are tools, and this is a - if you've seen any of my other
material, no rules just tools, and that's what I'm teaching.
And so what I'm teaching is tools of composition.
So the first step in that then is, okay, how do we move the eye?
Now I'm going to take and show you these are now conceptual.
You have to sort of in your mind visualize the reality.
These are the things that you're doing.
Everything has to be, you have to experience it in your
mind already putting it down.
You don't, it's not a standoff thing.
This is part of the feeling process.
So now this was what, how part of this was explained to me when I was a student
I had an instructor who went from being a figurative painter
to a hard-edge abstractionist.
But he also had one of the largest collections of
private old master drawings.
An amazing artist.
Lorser Feitelson was the guy's name.
And Lorser explains things as well.
And we were talking, we were talking about drawings of Tintoretto
and particularly in rhythm
is what we're dealing with and say, well, okay, if you take and pretend
like your eye is like a pinball machine, here's the eye, and you shoot the
eye and the eye goes forward, moving, and you catch the eye with a paddle.
The eye is going to bounce off of that and it's going to move and you're going
to catch it so you can see now how
the eye's being directed by this thing.
And if you, if you're familiar with my approach, taking and doing gesture
drawings, that's where I use - this is where it all comes from composition.
So I organized, so I can take this and I can even take now you see what I'm
doing, exactly what we were talking about.
Now what's important is the concept of sequence.
Sequence is what we're talking about.
Transition from one thing to another, this is the critical element of.
So what happened here, this isn't one wavy line.
The one that doesn't move.
It's the actual jumping from one, one to the next, the next.
And in the sense, this is it's like animation in a way.
But if you look at the, let's say the Marcel Duchamp's Nude Descending
a Staircase, you see the sequence of lines that takes and makes the eye move.
It's a very, very common concept.
Now I've been talking about experience, aesthetics, experience.
What experience have you created?
Well, It's how you take and relate these elements.
In other words, if I take and I do this
well, there's a certain experience being created here, but if I
take and do the same thing.
Now see what I'm talking about here is a tool.
It's a sequence.
It's a continuity.
It's a transition from one thing to the next.
This is a very different experience than what you're getting up here.
They're two different things, but it's the tool.
It's the tool that you're talking about.
So in other words, the same thing is transition.
You look at this.
Okay, we're going from one point to another.
It's a transition from getting from here to there by a series
of lines that are moving.
Now I can make timing in here.
I can take and do.
That's different than if I take and came in and let's
take and add stuff like this.
And then I just I'm changing things as I start to take and work with
it and I can stretch this up.
That's creating another different experience.
So it's the timing between things, timing.
It's like music, it's the beat.
It's the same thing that you can change the timing.
You can have slow movements, you have fast movements, you have all kinds of things.
We have the analogies between music and painting are very, very similar.
And so we use the same terms actually.
But we work with them differently.
So the idea of continuity catching the eye, let me just take a one point here.
I started out with the idea of chaos.
Now, what happens with the student often is they will take and they
will put down and they say, well, okay, I've got this and then
they'll come over here and do this.
There's no movement, you literally have to capture the eye to take and create
the movement and we need to take, and you have to, you have to experience what
is happening with the lines and whether it's dealing with tone, going back
to my first thing, I'm thinking about everything has energy and how you move
things through and deal with that frame.
How do we, how do we make, how do we make this art experience take place?
Okay, first, let's take, I'm going to give you a concept, just a way
of thinking about the process.
It's not a matter of, this is, like I said, there's no rules, but a way of, of
mentally dealing with you had, first of all, you have to take into consideration
that every line, every tone, color, texture, anything we put down on the paper
affects the experience that you create.
That's that's that's the key.
So let's start with a very simple, almost start with the frame here.
Now the natural tendency is, particularly in the Western world, is that we tend
to read things from left to right.
In fact, the word reading a picture was actually developed from or
develop from he's basically he was saying it was Nicholas Poussin.
He said you can read a painting by the organization of, of the, of the
your elements, the expressions on the character's faces, the settings.
So you can read a picture.
And it's like pantomime.
So now what I'm going to say, so what we tend to read from left to, right.
Well, if I take and I do something like this.
And make it, we'll make it really obvious here is I'm take and say like, if I
can do like an arrow or like a street going in, in perspective, the natural
tendency then would be to just really go right along down that, leading you in.
Okay, but let's just say that, think of this as being a force, this is
actually a physical force that's moving.
So what are you saying when we take, and if I have sort of imagine
and say what is we have something here, some kind of a barrier.
That barrier we're not going to move anywhere, but let's say it's really a
strong force and the barrier gets bent.
Well, now I've run away.
You can see that this movement is continuing.
So as we take and go, I know if I take capture that, if I take and I
do this, and not doing just a kind of line . Well, the eye's still moving,
I can take that and say, just imagine you just imagine these things as being
physical entity that you're dealing with.
Gee, what if I take and capture this cloud in some kind of
a three-dimensional funnel here?
Well we can see with since gonna move this, then we're going to
get this thing moving out here.
So now, and I'm doing this, I'm taking and coming down through here well, I can
take and pick up something back here.
Maybe if you got clouds.
These clouds are going to take, or I can turn this into something that's going
this way and hitting something else.
And maybe even eat it even push the eye all the way around now.
So we're not dealing with the frame particularly, I'm
just moving within the frame.
So this is an essential element then that I can take and make this come forward.
If I just literally even just drawing the lines here, I can take this forward
and I can take and say, well, we've got this big thing coming out at us.
Well, I've moved the eye around.
Now, as we, as we go through these lessons, now we're going to be
introducing others, introducing their idea of the frame, different
elements, opposites, all kinds of things that we take and work with.
But see this is not really taking in the frame.
It's just like a bullseye at this point.
And the tendency will, you have to be careful.
See, now, if I'm doing this, you guys just going to see this as a
big big circle when we're going in.
And that creates dead.
We want the feel the movement.
We don't want the stop.
See, I'm not taking and creating a a picture with a bowl of
flowers that you're looking at.
I don't care less about the bowl of flowers.
I want to create the movement and the feeling of what the composition
is, not the bowl of flowers.
So in this case, so as I've got this stuff going, well, maybe if I just,
we're going to talk more about this later, but just start with, say a
little bit, the idea of this frame.
Well, this is going through.
I'm want to make this movement right here, really forceful.
So I'm going to make something over here.
That's taking it.
We're going past that.
And we're there, we're pulling from that so I can take and so now I've
expanded the amount of experience from here to all the way over here.
So I want to use the whole frame.
So as I'm going through this thing, well, we've got this
going here, maybe this going.
Well, I can do the same kind of thing.
I can take any secondary, little, little play going off up here.
So now you can see that this has been shooting, pulling it across.
So we're doing this and then we're coming forward as I'm doing this.
Well, let's say this is really a physical thing.
I'm going to cast a shadow down here.
So now we're really starting to move around on the thing.
So this is just a very if you think about every line, every tone has some
kind of way of capturing the eye, but first there's another part to this now.
You have to, as you're doing it, like I said, I don't want this bullseye,
not going to get me anywhere.
That's just a bullseye, the target.
But I want to create an experience in the process doing.
So there are primary movements, secondary movement, tertiary movement.
There's all kinds of levels that we can take and discuss this
movement in this composition now.
And so what I've done here is that yes, this is, this is number one.
This is one prime.
Now we're coming across and putting through and maybe this is two prime.
I'm coming around, but he's doing, doing - what I'm doing is I'm dropping down.
So now we start to play, well, maybe I create this movement going
farther down even in here, maybe I've got a flower that's leading out.
I'm creating all these elements to take and make something happen.
And that's that's, that's the cool.
That's not, that's cool.
That's the real thing.
Now, let me explain to a, another way of thinking about, because what's
important here is the feeling of how these elements actually, the degree
that they take and relate to each other.
something that until you actually see a lot of the
Greek originals, you don't realize how realistic these
things were. Incredible. Absolutely, incredible. They
look very modern
but already what you're seeing here is
you can see the way the line, look at the line leading.
There's almost a beat to the thing, this
building, coming through. You can see the way the drapery is
the action you can see alternating legs here, but
we're seeing the same line, seeing the same line pulling
through a little bit of a floral come through. Building,
it's building. It's a beautiful organization of the thing. But
notice that each one of these is also different. Here we get
the head looking back down, here's looking down and that one's
looking forward. They're all similar. There's a parade going
across, they're holding on. Yet they're all different, but you
can see it's leading the eye, it's leading the eyes,
definitely very clear direction to the thing. So it's again it's
organizing, organizing the drawing or the sculpture for a
purpose. It's telling a story.
It is actually amazing to me seeing this.
It's amazing to see that they actually sculpted this thing.
Okay now let's ghost this down a little bit.
Now the main point I'm trying to get across here is it's the sequencing.
So I said, when you look, when you look at this thing, we can see all these
Roman soldiers, but it's this, this right now we're coming into the battle.
This guy is taking, going off here.
He got the guy here.
Now you can feel, but the eye's actually even getting past
this, we're getting through.
The guy now come from confrontation here and behind, but it keeps moving.
It keeps moving along with the story, the guys down here, picking
up, moving up, they kind of building up as we're building up.
We're also dropping down the line.
Storytelling then new chapter.
Yeah, basically this is like a three-dimensional comic book.
It's a history comic book, and it's telling a story.
So all of these things and it's sequential, that's the critical part.
So you can see the soldiers coming up here, coming out of the tree
and the forest coming down and you can feel the dropping down and
going through then the battle building up, then again a break and
we feel this coming in the opposite direction, coming up the battle.
So it's clearly, everything's organized.
It's all clearly meant to build and tell you the story, nothing
more complicated than that.
In fact, most things that are really extraordinary are not very complicated.
Take, going to take a little bit of time here.
We look at this, we're talking about, you know, a thousand years later.
We're taking and you'll notice that, and this is where we taking in the
painting and I talk about the artist.
Giotto really being in the beginning of what we call composition, but if you
see the painting of the frame, the stage setting, the figures now are real figures.
So now what we still, but he's repeating the frame.
Notice all we got everything lining up.
Now he takes and creates a line here that takes, and the figure is moving.
Look at the look of the lines here.
He's building, he's taking a very neutral, we have a series
of verticals and horizontals that we're coming across in the picture.
He has a quiet thing.
So what's the action?
The first thing coming from the left.
This figure is moving over, that's coming down.
That's moving us in this direction.
You can feel the movement the way it's coming in.
Then what we have is the next figure on the other side, which
is the emphasis of the story.
He now has taken and is looking up.
what we have up here is a hand.
So he's talking to God and you notice this is all building up.
This is directing us to see that man.
So everything is made quiet.
The main points of the story are brought out.
The things are coming out from behind the verticals on both sides.
And we have blocks of figures, but then within these blocks of figures, there's
all kinds of things that are going on.
Now, these, like you say, the main thing with Giotto, these are real
figures, real people, real expressions.
You can see the people looking in different directions.
Here, he's given up all of his worldly goods and the father is old holding
onto all of his clothes that he's given away and you can see where
he's joined the church he's taking in vows of poverty and charity.
And so we can see the it's a story, it's very clear, really to the point.
And that's what makes Giotto so important.
And this is a point that if you go back, even the criticism, classical
criticism of artists, they - one of the main elements that they come out,
what made Giotto so strong and so important was his clarity with there's
no, he's not titillating the eye.
And so when during the Renaissance, when he criticized different
artists, they criticized them from the fact that they were just
taking and making eye decoration.
And that they weren't really, they weren't strong.
They weren't telling us a story.
They weren't taking and communicating other than being a, if they were not
any good, they were usually criticized for just being frivolous in a way.
Lots of good artists fall into that category.
Another really extraordinary artist is Fra Angelico and Fra
Angelico was the same thing.
He was taking it and consider really exceptional because again
He's not titillating the eye.
He's telling a story straight to the point.
Let's look at what he's doing here.
Nwo, as we do this, okay
we've got a groups of similar, but you have to realize he was
considerably later than Giotto.
Although he appears to be a much more archaic, but we forget that so many
of the Renaissance artists were killed because or died because of the plague.
Now, so what we see here, there was about a hundred years or so of a break
there where not a lot was done.
Now look at the line.
He's actually giving us perspective.
He's not using real perspective.
He's using what we refer to as Imperial perspective, but he's giving a direction.
All of this stuff is building in.
Notice that as this road comes around, now here what the story is
this guy's winding up to take and lop off this gal's head.
So the composition is designed, the road is taking and coming back down,
this is taking and pulling through.
You can see how everything builds.
He's making all these things take and come around and you know that now the
next thing is going to lop off here.
We finally, we've got five figures that are going to be done
and you have five trees behind.
He's constantly dealing with things.
So now within, within the painting, we started with the frame.
We can see the first figure's leaning back.
And so we're all the way back into the frame.
Notice the stuff back here, going back now, this is, these are constant themes
that you will see as we take and talk about different artists, but then there's
- each one of these are different.
The differences there's no two heads that are exactly alike.
They're all different.
And so this is part of the, part of the idea and is also the idea
of organizing darks, lights, darks.
And giving, using a sense of space yet the figures are in
a foreground type environment.
Highly, highly organized and he was a very very pious painter.
He was a monk Fra Angelico, but extraordinary, he's a good guy to take and
actually look at and studying composition.
I've analyzed many, many of his paintings.
But we're just sort of stepping through what I'm trying to do here
is we go from one painting to the other not getting too elaborate is
what we're talking about is the idea of transition, how the eye is led.
He's really the next big jump we think, and from say Fra Angelico and he was one
of the primary users in the beginning of a prospective, mathematical perspective.
And so what we see and Masaccio really was the guy - he's also noticed
that when with Giotto we didn't have any shadows or anything like that.
Now these are really becoming three-dimensional, there's
actually a sense of atmosphere.
We have shadows being cast.
We have tones.
It's really, it's a whole new, it's a whole new world of painting.
And let's just take and ghost this down a little bit and
bring out a few things in here.
First of all, it's a story sequence.
Here's the guy over in the corner getting money.
So this is a separate figure.
Now, as we move into, as we move into the painting, we move into the painting
and look at the characters, look at the - everybody's got a different expression
and they're all different heads, but to look at the lines, arms leading
and he saying, hey, look over here.
So it's story, these figures built in a block of figures.
Notice what he does is he takes and doing this.
He's also bringing out of the block this figure here.
So there's this, this figure is actually a bit separate from that.
So you've got these groups, we've got three groups that are going
back in space back, going back in.
You can feel the shapes that he's building, building, making the
eye go, he's looking that way.
He's pointing that way.
And we've got this next figure over here.
So it's a storytelling and he's also repeating the frame.
So this is one of the elements that we talked about.
Very, very classical building up the picture in terms of spatial. It's
still pretty much a stage front type of situation, but this is a really
the one of the early, early paintings that's really setting the tone.
Now this is much more dramatic.
And he's where we were talking about Masaccio, where we
were talking about planalism.
We taken this has - obviously, we got an incredible diagonal,
but look at what's going on here.
He's taking and leading the eye.
He's actually, we start down here with this guy out of the bed.
And the dog barking at the guy under the bed.
I can see the perspective creating lines, going back in space.
Now, from that point in here, we're moving forward and going up - well, building.
Here's Venus taking and going up.
He builds up, it takes up the whole canvas, but he leads the eye.
These are forms that are taking and making us move.
And then at the same time, we get just the opposite going back, Cupid, lying there in
bed, taking or watching this whole scene of the gods cavorting and frolicking.
He's really still repeating the frame.
We have our verticals.
We have our horizontals.
But this is Tintoretto.
Wenow have all these strong diagonals, taking and going here.
This is sort of a nice point here.
It's giving us the reverse action of the figures in a mirror, going
back, but this is a clear, you cannot miss the fact that you're being
led from one figure to the other.
And we'll talk more about the actual, the niceties of some of these
compositions as we develop our ideas.
This is the 1930s, 1940s.
The same ideas.
Look at what's going on here.
See, all I'm trying to do with these illustrations now is to give you a sort
of a taste of a little bit of the ideas that this is really, it's really abstract.
Everything we're dealing with is abstract painting.
particularly you have to use the point I had, I guess I
didn't make this point earlier.
I just thought of it is that we tend to miss, even if we're doing
something very realistic painting wise that it is not real, it's on a
flat two dimensional surface, and we have to take into consideration that
it is flat and that we're working within the frame and we're building
and then we're taking and creating the illusion of three-dimensional movement.
And so beginning with the painting itself, doesn't move.
It's stuck on the wall.
It's not like animation where we actually have moving images, but you can see this
basic rhythm that Benton is going through.
He's building these forms.
Look at this figure back here, we get this priest.
There's a sequence.
This is foreground.
And we're stepping back into the picture.
And the scale.
Are these things one big figure then to the next smaller figure, we're
going back in and here we're having soldiers on a boat who've just come
to the new land and we've got this,
it looks like actually sort of like an evil priest in
here with a cross in his hand.
But the idea is that he's taking, creating, creating this movement, but
it's a series of line that sequence starts up close and he's moving you
back into the picture, giving the events and we have the bolt all the way in
the background and the space going up.
Pretty good painting.
In this series of examples, that the only thing I'm really talking about, this is
the point, is how the artist has taken and made the eye see certain things.
Okay, so now I'm going to ghost this down so you can see
what I'm talking about here.
Okay this is El Greco's view of Toledo.
Now, one of the things that he's doing here is that, and again,
these are a lot of stuff is going to be repeated many times.
But when we particularly we're talking about opposites, I can't really talk
about something without bringing things that we haven't talked about.
So now here we go.
Play of opposites.
He's working within a frame.
If you look at the picture, what we get is a very clear rising on one side
and a dropping on the other, not the very simple play of opposites, but how
does he make us really experience that?
Well, he starts out with this view of Toledo so we can see
that everything is building up.
We can see everything is building up and we look at this.
Now we get this the church.
Now notice this isn't accidental.
You got this going here.
We've got this going here and notice if you backed down, he
starts all the way down here.
He's creating this line that becomes something more.
Now, if you look at the clouds, what are we - what's going on?
He's pushing everything up.
So he's created this vertical hall or what he get on the other side.
If you've got it, literally a hole.
Everything is falling like it's going down the drain.
Dropping, dropping, dropping, but even here say we got the stuff,
he's got some building up and we get the play of opposites.
So when you're looking at El Greco, you don't ignore the clouds.
You look at everything going on here, but the main thing here is you can
see how these lines - let's just close this and so we look at the thing again.
Now you can experience it.
Look at the experience you can see even the way the dark in the back of the
white there is billing up, very obvious.
The thing that most students and particularly in the beginning, and I
expect that what will happen with you, they get too involved with all the pieces.
You've got to look and focus on the total and the process that you're dealing with.
Let us go to another painting now.
One of the main elements that I've been discussing is the idea of transition.
Now, starting on the left-hand side, notice that we're taking and what
we're dealing with is the frame.
You have the frame up here, and then we have this first
figure is a series of verticals.
As you look to the left
okay. The figure in fact is leaning backwards.
So it's really expanding.
And then if you can just visualize this now is what we
have as a series of transitions.
In the fact that the transition continues all the way down to the ground here.
So what you seeing then, and maybe I can make these lines a little, even bolder.
So you're seeing this, you're feeling this dropping then on the other side,
again, we're starting with the frame.
Verticals and then we get a series of figures going in.
So as he's doing this, where it gets very obvious, then you can
see the parallel lines here to the leg and the stuff going on.
It's carried on into the background here.
This is very similar.
Now that little diagram I did to start with.
So even look at the way, the light, the shadows in the background,
this guy's arm coming through.
So we're making - and this is, let's just do a little diagramming right here.
What we're talking about, and you can see that everything is pretty well parallel
to the picture plane on the bottom.
It's like a stage front.
It's just the stage out in front of you here and the figures
are taking and going back.
So we start with the idea transition and it keeps on going down.
All the way down and it gets repeated and then we've got the top up here and
then we got, so this is your primary and we have the secondary movement
then taking and going back and you can see now how he's taking in the drapery
in the background is building up.
And this is now he's noticed how this is working now, he's
getting this stuff going down.
He's literally working with the center of the frame.
You have these backgrounds, so it's going one way to the other.
So this is simple idea of transition.
There are other elements in here.
We talked about timing, okay.
Look at this head to now, to this head.
And as he keeps going notice even the hand coming out, out here.
We're creating a series of movements that are going through.
Everything is worked out.
There are no loose ends.
These are tools.
These are tools.
Okay, so let's take, this is again, Cavallino 1600s.
Italian, actually Neapolitan, I believe.
It's now that goes to this down.
Now, this is actually almost the same composition.
Say what'd he get, he starts out with the first figure over
here, actually pushing out.
Get this going off, out there, going back in space, then notice that what
we get is a series of lines that are taking and going down to the concept
of what's going on, the baby, finding the baby in the reeds down here.
And the minute we get down see he carries that movement even
farther with this light down here.
So what we have is arms, figures gesturing people behind here looking down, he's
expands the whole thing, but there was a sense of timing between these things
as we keep moving down into here, then as we're going through here to emphasize,
to make the thing clear as we feel, look at the tone here, all this darker,
this is a vertical spaces and taking and going back in the opposite direction.
Notice that even in here it's nothing is extraneous.
So look at the arm.
If you look at the tree is even taking and going up from here to here and
we get all this stuff now building up and we get this stuff going through.
It's all, everything moves again, but it's a stage front.
You have - this is all happens for the visual space and then
you've got all this space behind.
But even as the figure leans back in this figure here, in other words, this central
figure here as she's leaning back, notice that the lines in the background now are
part of this and we even get the trees and stuff up here, taking it and going
along with it, we get this stuff building up, he takes and all of the elements
within the painting are organized.
And that was my first point.
You could have all these diverse elements, but everything is tied in.
See, even as the depth of the picture is going back in,
the two-dimensional lines are continuing.
So what we have is a, both a two-dimensional, three-dimensional
series of lines that are carrying your eye through.
And at the same time we're taking, going back in the opposite direction.
So this is really, but this is almost the same composition is the
other Cavallino, but same idea.
Okay, so now let's take a look at some other examples here.
Now let me take and Poussin was the head of the French Academy in Rome.
And now in this painting, again, the main thing I've been talking about
transition, transition, transition.
So let's take and ghost this down so we look at this.
So what we have them starting from the left now we can see the first figure here.
Look where are we getting - notice, notice that what he's done here, he
actually takes it and draws a line across the bottom, even the way the
shadows and everything takes and go through you're just going through it.
And again, it's like a stage, the stage front here that we're dealing with.
And so what we get here now, this figure is taking and leaning in.
Notice that what we have in the background here, got all these vertical stocked and
you got all this big verticals coming through and here he's repeating the frame.
And in fact, he's repeating the frame with the way the figures here
line up and this way you notice that the frame is being repeated.
This repetition of horizontals and verticals, what this does,
it creates a sense of a quietness of classical, which exists.
What piece on is the epitome of classicism.
So now what we get is this figure is coming, going in, but you'll notice that
everything is going in this direction.
He's leading you across the thing.
This is transition from one thing to the next.
Well, at the same time, now this is something that in one of the later
chapters or lessons, I should say
we will be taking it and talking about the subjective as all of this movement
is going to the right, even so you notice the pointing hand going this way.
The other hand, going through, all the lines coming through.
The look is offstage going back, see here we even get the angels taking, moving,
notice the way, but these clouds in here and we see that this is actually
everything, the billowing things, everything is taking and going with it.
And you'll find that the lines as we start going through, everything
is moving the eye, the look of the people is the opposite.
So that there that's a critical part of the thing.
But first now you can notice that we also build into here, notice that
the opposite of creating a movement, you can start looking at the lines.
Start looking at the big lines, that's secondary stuff.
But you want to see all of this stuff builds up.
All this stuff builds up.
We're getting all this movement pushing.
It's the combination of all of this stuff that's making the eye move.
So we take and we, you know, you can not the - again with
Poussin and particularly nothing,
absolutely nothing is extraneous. Okay now is everything is looking that way
notice that you have this arch shape.
I think that's a hill or a bank or something.
Again, that's the opposite now of all these strong movements
going in the other direction.
So let's look - let's take a second here and look at the original here.
Now take a moment and just study this and try to take and maybe even if you
can run your fingers over this to take and feel how the eye is moving through,
noticing that the wings of the angel, but notice every time you draw one little
fragment, carry the eye through it.
So in here is full size
now you can see.
You take the angel on the right with the white wing, well,
look at the figures behind it.
The other angels, they're all, everything is building one into another, yet
on the right hand side, there's a very strong, straight, vertical from
the leg of the character or of the angel all the way down going all the
way up to the figures in the back.
And as I mentioned, we just looked at El Greco and we saw how would he would take
the angels or I should say the clouds, notice how the angel taking, going up the
cloud, the white cloud behind the dark clouds behind, that's all building up.
And so everything in the - you find that there's verticals being created in the
picture that are taking and lining up now.
So when you start to work, when you start to work on your assignment, you
want to take it very clearly, take and be conscious of the frame and
how you take and make that movement.
I would suggest that you try making this - we're talking about transition.
It can be from one line to another.
It can be tone.
Let me show you a very different, very very different example.
Now, you don't have to like certain artists to learn from them.
And Cézanne, a lot of the modern contemporary people who are taking
and dealing with figurative work, copper paintings and what have you,
they dismiss all of this stuff.
That's a major mistake.
Like I said you don't have to like somebody to take and learn
from them, but what I want to show here, and this is a point that many
myths that people like Cézanne and
even Picasso were taking and very, definitely looking at the old masters.
Now, if we take, I'm just going to focus on the right-hand side here.
Look at the figures here now.
We're starting with this first figure here.
Now the lines coming through.
The stuff going through notice now as you're doing it is what
the shape right next to it now.
Now this as we're building up and the hair, figure here.
This is building up, takes the hair, takes the pine tree right
behind or whatever kinda tree it makes it look like a cone head.
Okay, but you could see you can't help, but to see how he's organizing
all these elements to take and create a movement taking and going up.
So as you look at these artists, you start to see that they're doing, this
is actually a classical painting.
In one of the lessons we're going to be talking about
working with groups of figures.
This is a very good painting to study that, but notice what you actually have.
You actually have three groups, you've got a group on the left-hand side, you a group
on the right-hand side, we're building up this very classical pyramid approach.
You got the - going to counter, going off on the right-hand side.
Now, these are elements that we'll talk about more, but if you take and study
these paintings, you will see again like the Poussin, and this is who he was
trying to emulate, creating a classical picture, but really focusing on the
abstract elements let to start with.
But it's the idea.
So let's take my scribbling out of the way here and look at, look at
the lines, look at how he leads the eye from one thing to the other.
Also notice that the exact same thing, the objects are all start with, you have
the two groups of figures are on a, like a stage front, they're on a plane, the
depths of the picture maybe 10 feet there.
Then you've got this big space in between.
Then you have another group back here.
And so you're basically dealing with three groups of figures.
But you're taking and it's a stage, literally everything
is repeating the frame.
Working within the frame.
Talking about very, very classical ideas.
And what are we - I like to use this illustration for is to show that how
the ideas of movement have not changed.
How far back they go.
So if we look what's the story here?
We have musicians.
Now notice that like a stage here, we have a, literally a frame
stage or a shell space behind.
The figure of the shadows coming through in between create a sense
of light, but this is a mosaic
so you can start thinking this is all very well-planned out
before it ever got started here.
But look at the idea.
What's this guy doing, playing with the tambourine.
He's raising up with this tambourine and he's hitting the bottom of it.
Look at where he started.
He started all the way up here.
Figure's coming down.
Going through, look at the drapery, the arm, the movement that we sense
here is taking and going with it.
We start with him vertical figure, another vertical figure, but the
drapery now is taking and helping us go.
And now we get this figure is taking and leaning in.
Going through, he's playing these I guess the, these hand symbols, like the
gypsies would use, taking and doing.
So this is, that goes, we can feel this lifting up.
Notice that the leg, the movement now, get the leg here, the leg.
They're keeping beat.
Keeping the thing going.
Eyes are going up, looking up.
This figure is looking down.
It's a beautiful, it's a beautiful little movement, really well thought out.
You notice how he's containing a lot of this stuff within a, he's
got the vertical coming through or just carrying it past helps to
create a sense of movement within it.
Very simple, but it's obviously it's not a static picture.
Transcription not available.
Reference Images (19)
Free to try
1. Learning Recommendation24sNow playing...
1. Introduction to Composition15m 49sNow playing...
Watch the whole lesson with a subscription
2. Creating Movement and Force in Composition8m 18s
3. Greek Frieze1m 41s
4. Trajan’s Column2m 15s
5. St. Francis Renounces All Worldly Goods by Giotto3m 54s
6. Beheading of St. Cosmas and St. Damian by Fra Angelico3m 22s
7. The Tribute Money by Masaccio2m 41s
8. Vulcan Surprised by Venus and Mars by Tintoretto1m 52s
9. First Chapter the American Historical Epic Discovery by Thomas Hart Benton2m 24s
10. View of Toledo by El Greco3m 4s
11. Esther and Ahasuerus by Bernardo Cavallino3m 6s
12. Finding of Moses by Antonio de Bellis3m 23s
13. The Flight into Egypt by Nicolas Poussin5m 51s
14. The Large Bathers by Paul Cézanne3m 39s
15. Street Musicians Mosaic by Dioskourides of Samos2m 47s