Friday, March 9, 2012

Creating Movement in a Painting

As we get closer to St. Patrick's Day more and more of the Irish paintings are appearing on the blog. This one titled Ceili! was inspired by the music, dance and excitement of an Irish Ceili (party). Two dancers, slightly left of center, leap toward opposite sides of the painting creating a diagonal tension and moving our eye toward the supporting elements, the musicians. One dancer's foot points directly to the fiddle player, drawing her into the area we call our focal point, or main area of interest. The two dancers and fiddle player create a triangle shape, which becomes our focal point. The viewer can see part of a bodhran and the hand holding the tipper. Part of an accordion is visible, but very abstracted near the left corner. And last but not least, in the top left corner we have what seems to be a band; they are very abstracted and painted in subdued color...I call them the "Muddy Neutrals".

In a painting such as Ceili!, pictured here, we have a moment frozen in time, yet full of the illusion of movement.

How do we capture movement in a painting? There are a few things to consider.
Edges for one, should be somewhat fuzzy, not sharply defined. A precise line indicates something static. A line which is looser, a bit disconnected can indicate movement.

Details should be minimal; enough to define an object without over-emphasizing it.
As the dancers leap through the air, their dresses and hair move with them; they are not static. The fiddle player tosses her hair in a movement that repeats the shape of the dancers hair, and reinforces the illusion of movement.

Color of course is of utmost importance when portraying movement. Warm colors come forward, cool colors recede. Bright colors also come forward and neutrals recede. This is something we can use to our advantage here.

*The artist Hans Hofmann (1880 - 1966) proved that the illusion of space, depth, and even movement on a canvas could be created abstractly using color and shape, rather than representational forms.
Although I did not use many cool colors here, I did use neutrals to create the shadowed areas and to provide contrast for the intense warm colors. I layered several warm intense colors on top of each other and next to each other to create an air of excitement. The neutral were all made by mixing those intense colors together to make a series of subdued tones to complement the intense colors.

The brushwork in this painting was done with a loose quick stroke which changed direction to reinforce the idea of shapes and movement. The palette knife work added a few textured strokes to complete the illusion of movement.

Below is the link for the Hans Hofman website, which further details the push and pull theory.


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