Monday, December 14

Are Art Rules Made To Be Broken?

Today’s Image
An Un-ruly Art Car
Photo Copyright 2008

Are there “rules” in artwork? I’ve been thinking about this recently as I work on my current watercolor. Hmmm…

I had a couple of false starts on my painting, and by that I mean, I actually started completely over. Why, you may ask, would I do such a thing?

Well, it seems my current painting contains architectural detail on several buildings in addition to a broad street that brings the viewer into the painting from the lower left corner—and, it seems, I did not straighten it properly as I laid down my sketch from the reference photo.

The view I’m painting is several stories above street level, looking out at the horizon and at the same time down to the street. One reason I wanted to paint this picture—it reminds me of some of the Impressionist paintings of Paris streets, and if it were reminiscent of that, that's fine by me.

Originally I was advised to straighten and align the painting so that the left side of the main building was more vertical (?) than it appeared in the photo. The camera “lies” or so it seems.

Therefore, I “straightened” the building as I sketched the main elements onto my relatively expensive sheet of 300-lb. watercolor paper. Then I happily began painting my picture.

However, during critique, parts of other buildings then looked askew to several people who viewed it.

The discussion about this straightening got quite involved, which is a word I don’t really like to use. We got off on eye-level and site lines and vanishing points—both above and below. This is in addition to the fact that it’s a foggy, misty day, which fuzzes up the whole thing.

The consensus from this discussion was that the painting would never “look right” due to the misaligned views, so much so that I got the impression viewers would experience vertigo or worse.

I started completely over with sketching the main elements on a whole new sheet of watercolor paper. And I began painting the picture again. I will show it to you when I finish it, but that probably won’t be for a few weeks and after the busy holiday period. But I will.

So anyway, to bring this discussion back to where it started—are there rules in artwork?

Well, of course, but are they iron-clad? In my humble opinion, no way. In fact, I think that’s what makes art, art. I know some, many, or most of the famous and well-know painters studied and followed all the art-school rules.

But aren’t spontaneity, creativity, and ‘joie de vivre’ (to throw in a little French) just as important? I certainly think so.


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