Breaking The Flow

posted in: Blog, Composition, Painting | 3

Interruptions attract attention.  InterrRuptions like this extra “R” here compel attention. We anticipate a flow pattern. When it is interrupted we pay heed. But, to interrupt a flow pattern you first must make one.

Example 1 is from Philip Ball’s book, “Patterns in Nature”. Here we see the leaf pushing against the surface motion of the water. See how rhythmic patterns are constructed around the break.

Example 1. Breaking the flow,

Example 2 presents a tree’s growth pattern around a knot. The knot disturbs and rearranges the flow pattern. This is reminiscent of the broken flow pattern in example 1 with its floating leaf.

Example 2. Tree growth around a knot, again from Phillip Ball’s “Patterns in Nature”,

Artists use flow pattern cues to have us experience movement and its interruptions. Example 3 presents a late painting by Vincent Van Gogh from 1849 near Auvers. See how he presents undulating flow patterns in the foreground grasses. He then breaks their flow by introducing a geometric matrix of farm fields. These fields are interrupted by the horizon which supports a horizontal cloud flow.

Example 3. Vincent Van Gogh at Plain at Auvers, 1890,

In my next three examples notice the step-by-step progression as I set up graduating color transitions, receding shape patterns, and perspective flow patterns. The image gradually evolves into a broader flow pattern.

Example 4. Step one, “Surface Migration” an oil on brushed silver Dibond, 36×36, initial textures and composition,

Example 5. Step two, addition of  surface pattern shapes,

Example 6. Step three, present unfinished state of “Surface Migration”. There is the expansion of surface patterns, an introduction of color transitions, and a reduction of border shapes.

My final example presents “River Pool”, an oil on brushed silver Dibond, 36×36”. Here the flow pattern ascends from a dark foreground toward a light background. Shapes diminish in size over distance as they lose edge acuity. The myriad shapes are arranged to suggest a broken but, unified field of motion like a mad school of fish. Their flow pattern carries you into the painting.  The colors and their respective values graduate through blended bands offering a demonstration of color recession.

Example 7. Present unfinished state of “River Pool”, an oil on brushed silver Dibond, 36×36,




3 Responses

  1. Julie

    Another beautiful and mysterious painting, David. You reduced/eliminated the border shapes thereby stretching into an entirely new layer – more intimate visually. Would I have delved that deep? Most probably not. Thank You!

  2. Nick

    I love your progression of thinking. Nicely done!

    What kind of surface preparation do you do to the Dibond? I have seen some sand and put a couple of coats of white gesso. I tried a clear gesso (On shiny Dibond: I rubbed with alcohol with a light sand–I wanted to preserve the surface as much as I could.) and found that the gesso did not adhere very well; I had some small paint points that sloughed off. Very disappointing.

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