Ideation Through Perspective and Dissolving Form

posted in: Painting | 6

Ideation is the act of forming a coherent visual comprehension, a sense of recogntion, a perception of what we are looking at. Peculiarly, in painting as in music and other arts, we are more likely to build a convincing perception, or sense of ideation if the visual material of the painting is not overly detailed, delineated or focused but, rather is ( and this sounds paradoxical ) more diffused in focus, more uncertain along the edges because,  our vision works through scanning, creating small sequential territories of focus and guessing what is the nature of the visual field before us.  If a painting can stimulate our predilection for this type of guessing, a forward, anticipatory type of guessing then, we will find the painting more persuasive.  Artists discover this through their own experiments. Turner, Monet, and Hsia Kuei Inness  discovered this experience of persuasion through ambiguity just as Leonardo da Vinci earlier discovered a heightened sense of correlation to experience through the blurred edges of his painting via his ” s’fumato” ( or smoky edges) technique.  These artists also learned that they  could deliver a more convincing sensation of space through the application of  various forms  of perspective.  One of those fundamental forms of perspective was linear perspective. Other forms included, atmospheric perspective, foveal degradation and amalgamation over distance, color recession, occlusion,  and relative motion in relation to distance.  As a young artist Monet learned the fundamentals of linear perspective, a form learned through the linear activity of drawing.  Linear perspective is acquired through a dependence upon sharply defined lines or edges but, an artist’s strict adherence to this linear foundation will thwart the sensation of space or the credible ideation of a place.  Therefore, artists like Monet would break, soften or eliminate much of the linear framework in their application of the principles of linear perspective but, sustain an allusion to its overall design.  Here are two examples. The first is young Monet with a more linear painting. The second is a slightly older ( less than ten  years) Monet who is now breaking his edges to evoke a stronger sense of ideation of space and light.  The second example feels fuller, more saturated with qualities of space, light and physical experience.   Both images offer a similar basic design form, an “X” or hourglass structure with an  inclined plane following a serpentine pattern back into the painting. The second painting is not only less linear with its broken edges but also, less centered, less symmetrical and therefore, less suspicious. The flutter marks in the later second painting generate a sensation of fullness and correspondence to our experience of variegated foliage.  Next, is an example of Hsia Kuei’s work from 800 years ago. Notice that the intervening field of nothing between the foreground and background gives us a feeling of space and,  the more pale and vague the distant trees behind the more articulated forward trees offer a feeling of enhanced credibility.  Next, observe in J.M.W. Turner’s watercolor sketch of Venice that we perceive much of the idea of builidngs in space without the evidence of delineated windows, architectural features, demarcation between structures or at times even the edges of the buildings themselves.  In Turner’s second image, an oil painting, we again experience the buildings of Venice as obscured by fog and therefore, more persuasively present.  We create Venice in our mind’s eye which offers a stronger ideation of Venice than having a more delineated description as in an architectect’s drawing.     The watercolor is 8×12 and the following oil is 24×37.  Finally, I want to show you how an image of mine went from more delineation to less as I pursued a stronger possibility for ideation of space, surface, atmosphere and light.  In the painting’s earlier state you see an aggregation of many more delineated shapes.  In the later state the image has been purged of much of this. The remaining content has become more blended and dissolved with application of semi-opaque glazes. the perception, the ability to guess, has been heightened along with an accompanying sensation of atmosphere and light.   If you are interested in learning more on this subject I suggest Ernst Gombrich’s ” Art and Illusion”.

6 Responses

  1. Lorraine

    Excellent discussion on perception. Elements on understanding and applying composition are key to skilled painting. I found this discussion to be most helpful. Using my weekend’s plein air efforts I will give it another go with this new knowledge.
    Thanks, David.

  2. Dina

    Well said. Your illustrations help us “see” exactly what you explain. Thank-you for sharing.

  3. Ed

    Buildings as subject matter are more linear by definition than a dirt road and bushes.
    The figure walking into town (gun-fighter type) appears to be encountering a menacing situation but we do not know what it is. The uncomfortable foreground shadow compliments the uneasy feeling by its desire to invade his privacy. This is intriguing and strikes my imagination more than the second one.
    The older Monet is creating his impressions, no he is in love with creating his impressions – this is the focus. The figure is almost inconsequential, it occupies space on the dirt road. I do not see a strong unification between the figure and his environment, as the earlier one shows. I see a celebration of impressions…landscape impressions.

    I agree that your second painting is better than the first. However, the first could be better. If you had highlighted the focal area more, brought out a sharper focus with more detail and perhaps a small, new intense color change.. then…hmmm.

    Thanks for your work, it is very much appreciated.

  4. Fredic Neuwith

    As we briefly discussed in class, “How to look at Cezanne” He is not vague, he is not interested in light. Turner & Monet are fascinated by light; the more light the more difussion. Is it fair to say that Cezanne is not intersted in space or is he not interested in objects that, perhaps define space? Your thoughts!

  5. Chris Woods

    I REALLY enjoyed this article. I want to enquire about the use of the term ‘ideation’ as the descriptive term of creating a unified composition through the blending edges and colours. I am unable to find any other literature that describes ‘ideation’ in those terms. Could you possibly point me in the direction of your research? I have had better luck with ‘sfumato’. Your piece has given me a lot to contemplate. Thank you.

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