Saturday, August 06, 2011

Eye Magnet

I steal that title from an article by Greg Albert in the October 2010 issue of The Artist's Magazine. It critiques a painting by Ruth S. Bodycott, noting both strengths and suggestions for improvement, noting "A good composition can always be improved..."

But it's not the ways to improve that I want to share today. It is his simple definition of two principles of composition: focal point and center of interest. I know I've run across these before, but this brought a sudden clarity to my mind.

"A focal point attracts the eye; a center of interest attracts the mind."

Isn't that wonderful? And it gets to the core of my design struggles, especially when I work abstractly. I may manage a lovely composition complete with focal point, but am I doing anything with the composition to titillate the viewer's mind? A pretty picture is not enough. And I take this one step further. Is my use of fabric and stitch creating an attraction for the mind as well?

Albert also talks about asymmetry as used in this painting as effective - the face being off-center with a slant throwing the eyes off alignment with the horizontal. I could not help but remember the suggestion of the teacher in the first quilting class I took. Arranging blocks on a design wall, she noted, "A quilt is always more interesting when the blocks are set on point." Any degree of off kilter automatically adds tension and thus interest.

For an online and more detailed discussion, follow this link. To view the painting referenced here, "Dots, Stripes & Baby", follow this link.


June said...

Really good differentiation as well as a starting point for thinking about what we are doing. I like "a pretty picture is not enough." But of course, you knew I would.

Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

Connie Rose said...

Guess this is why I try to stay away from representational work. Would rather capture the imagination with texture, shape, color, etc. than portray something in the material world.