From time to time I Twitter what I call Artist Tips. Twitter, as you may know, limits a Tweet to 140 characters, so the necessary brevity can cause confusion! Sometimes, from these little notes I receive questions from Followers and requests for additional information and explanation. Recently, I received a question from one of my Twitter faithful followers regarding shapes and lightness and darkness of shapes in a painting. I offer the following explanation with the hope that a more detailed explanation will help. However, should I fall short, please feel free to ask additional questions to clarify your understanding this or any of the subjects I discuss here in my Blog or Twitter about.
In reference to "a dominate shape being determined by its lightness or darkness," here is a more detailed explanation: All paintings are made up of shapes, large and small, representing the objects, or subject matter of the painting. For a shape to have an identity, it must have contrast in value or hue, or an outline (edges, soft and/or hard), to distinguish it from its background. Otherwise, we can't see it. A large shape does not necessarily make that shape dominant; dominance is determined by the qualities mentioned earlier with lightness and darkness being two of them. For any shape to stand out from its surroundings it has to be darker, lighter, more colorful, or difference in texture (example, use of brush strokes or palette knife) otherwise the intended shape is just part of the mass of all that is around it. Keep in mind that I am talking about representational art here, not abstract art. Things are very different in the world of abstract art.
Take a look at some of the images I have posted of my paintings; Simply Ming for example (to find it, scroll down to the Aug. 11, 2011 blog post entitled “Announcing a New Gallery”), is a good example of what I am trying to describe. Simply Ming has a variety of shapes, sizes, color, and textures, all working together to create a complete idea and image.
Your questions are always welcome! The only “dumb” question is the question never asked. How else do we learn if not by doing and asking questions!