Tracing Design across Time

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Occasionally I find a new seam of gold in a mine in which I have previously dug.  With that in mind I now re-examine a familiar design form.

When Thomas Cole painted his exhibition version of the The Oxbow in 1836 he borrowed from the Italian 17th century ideal landscape tradition, a compositional tradition that stretched back to ancient Rome (example 1). Prior to his exhibition painting Cole made a variety of smaller sketches. Contemporary landscape painters, photographers, and commercial photographers still borrow from this formula. They contort, stretch, simplify, and abstract that compositional formula but, it can still be seen lurking behind their work subliminally informing their imagination.

Example 1. Thomas Cole 1836 Oxbow exhibition painting,

Often my eye finds landscapes that offer resonance with Cole’s Oxbow.  I have learned to modify that design structure. In my example here I stay close to Cole’s form as you see in examples 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 which demonstrate how I arrived at my elongated version of this landscape form.  I begin with an unretouched photo of my view (example 2). See how I reversed the photo to bring it into closer compliance with Cole’s design. The subsequent examples (2, 3, 4, 5 & 6) reveal my step by step process. Lastly, I offer a diagram of my design superimposed with yellow arrows over the painting.

Example 2, From a set of photos of the Castle Hill Vista in Massachusetts.

Example 3. Step one of the painting; over-painting an older image.

Example 4. Step two of the painting,

Example 5. Step three of the image, present state,

Example 6. Painting with diagram superimposed,

European artists may not be particularly referencing Cole’s painting but certainly  they were influenced by the same traditions as Cole.  These are the design traditions stemming from  ancient Roman ideals as redefined by the 17th century landscapes of Claude, Dughet and Poussin (Example 7, Claude Lorraine).  Accompanying Clalude’s painting is a large contemporary painting by Laura Owens from 2002 (example 8). Notice how she has distilled the form.  Her arcing trees on the left form the framing coulisse as used by Claude and Constable and countless others.  I could further  provide you with 1000 year old examples of Chinese landscape painting using similar design forms.

Example 7, Claude Lorraine 17th century painting,

Example 8. Laura Owens 2002 oil and acrylic painting,

Commercial photographers rely on the same sources. Example 9 presents a recent advertisement by Supima for Supima cotton sheets.  Observe how this design draws from the same tradition  we see in the Cole landscape.

Notice how contemporary artist Miha Strukelj took a variation of the form to make an industrial landscape painting in 2001 (example 10).

Example 9.  Supima advertisement,

Example 10. Miha Strukelj painting,

We can take the same compositional structure and borrow only a portion, like the top half of the Cole painting and place it above a field as I did in example 11.   Like Cole, my painting’s top half uses diagonals to direct you toward light in the distance while the structure of the bottom half has you focused down into the shadows between the weave of grasses.  If I re-examine the Cole painting I notice that he too has us looking both down the hill to the Oxbow and then up and back to the horizon.

Example 11. Pacific Morning, oil on laminated aluminum, 36×36,

Join me this November at Art of the Carolinas November 10, 11, and 12.  Contact Jerry’s Artarama.

November 10 workshop is: New Tools, Techniques and Textures. Use registration code FR1709.

November 11 workshop is: Methods of the Ancients with Flowers and Landscapes. Use registration code SA1709.

November 12 workshop is: Fast City Life. Explore new methods, tools and perspectives to evoke cityscapes. Use registration code SU1709.

Visit Jerrysartarama.com then, enter art of the Carolinas in their search box to register for the workshops or, go directly to artofthecarolinas.com or, call 800 827 8478 ext 156.

If you find yourself in the Portland, Oregon or Vancouver, Washington area for the  then please visit an exhibition of my new works at the Attic Gallery in Camas, Washington (just across the river from Portland). The Attic Gallery is at 421 NE Cedar Street, Camas, Washington. Tuesday-Saturday 11-5pm. Atticgallery.com

If you find yourself near Sharon or Lakeville Connecticut then please visit the White Gallery in Lakeville, Connecticut, 342 Main Street. The exhibition is titled “David Dunlop’s Electric Cities”. Friday through Sunday Noon-4pm, 860 1029, thewhitegalleryart.com

Join me this November at Art of the Carolinas November 10, 11, and 12.  Contact Jerry’s Artarama.

November 10 workshop is: New Tools, Techniques and Textures. Use registration code FR1709.

November 11 workshop is: Methods of the Ancients with Flowers and Landscapes. Use registration code SA1709.

November 12 workshop is: Fast City Life. Explore new methods, tools and perspectives to evoke cityscapes. Use registration code SU1709.

Visit Jerrysartarama.com then, enter art of the Carolinas in their search box to register for the workshops or, go directly to artofthecarolinas.com or, call 800 827 8478 ext 156.

If you find yourself in the Portland, Oregon or Vancouver, Washington area for the  then please visit an exhibition of my new works at the Attic Gallery in Camas, Washington (just across the river from Portland). The Attic Gallery is at 421 NE Cedar Street, Camas, Washington. Tuesday-Saturday 11-5pm. Atticgallery.com

If you find yourself near Sharon or Lakeville Connecticut then please visit the White Gallery in Lakeville, Connecticut, 342 Main Street. The exhibition is titled “David Dunlop’s Electric Cities”. Friday through Sunday Noon-4pm, 860 1029, thewhitegalleryart.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 Responses

  1. Great blog. I will love to visit your exhibition of your new work.

  2. Super post! You do a great job of explaining your thought process. Thanks for sharing.

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