Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Rule Of Three

Bedroom in Arles
Vincent van Gogh
1888

The other day I did something I have always wanted to do, and I enrolled in an oil painting class.  Mostly, I wanted to learn about composition because I am not very good at it, and I learned more in one lesson than I knew was possible.  I love drawing and painting, but I'm not very adept at composing a picture.  My objects always end up sort of crooked.  I was chatting with the art teacher about this, and he showed me several examples of artists who were wonderful painters, but were not really skilled at drawing.  In this painting by Van Gogh, several of the objects are crooked -- look at the pictures on the walls.  Van Gogh actually did three versions of this painting. This one is in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, another is in the Musée d'Orsay in Paris, and the third is in the Art Institute in Chicago. In each painting, the composition is identical, but the colors are different. But the overall painting is wonderful.  The red blanket in the centre of the painting draws your eye in, and then you start to look around the room.  It doesn't matter that the floorboards are not parallel, the pictures are hung at an impossible angle, or that the chair by the door seems to be resting on a sloping floor. In Van Gogh's own words in a letter to his brother, he had this to say about this painting, Well, I have thought that on watching the composition we stop thinking and imagining.  My art teacher explained to me that some of the most perfect paintings are also the most boring, completely lacking in energy. 

The Starry Night
Vincent van Gogh
1889

Of course, I will never be a painter like Van Gogh -- goodness -- but I am learning a few tricks that he employed to make up a good composition -- such as the rule of three, which is dividing a canvas into three sections. You can see that in this painting here.  There are also three things a painter should have in order to create a work of art: tecnique, talent and creativity. Of the three, creativity is the one thing that separates a painter from an artist. I'm not sure I have it, but I guess I will find out soon enough.  Next week we begin to compose and paint an actual painting.

Watch this space...

31 comments:

Michelle said...

How fun! I have been wanting to take a oil class for some time. I love to paint but want to learn to do things like monet or van gogh did. More abstract. I tend to be really realistic in my approach but don't like it. I want to learn to 'let go' so to speak.

I think it's time to hunt down an oil class.

Teri said...

The rule of three is also used in photography. Once one gets used to it, composing (with a camera) becomes natural.

budh.aaah said...

Oh I hope too, one day to be a good artist..till thenstrive.

My personal fave has been Gaugin..

A.M. said...

You are a beautiful artist and I can't wait to see what this class draws out from you. :o)

Jennifer D said...

Three is the Magic Number!

KrippledWarrior said...

Imagine yourself an artist and you will be an artist. That's what my hippie and zen friends tell me.

Amy said...

Jo, Good for you - anytime you extend yourself creatively, you grow, don't you think? It will be fun to see what you share with your bloggy audience!

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Oooh, I love that you're doing this! I have always wanted to take art classes, although I am sure I don't have anywhere near as much talent as you do.

I love Van Gogh, and know of the rule of three but have only implemented it in photography (sometimes.) I will definitely be watching this space and can't wait to see what you come up with.

lakeviewer said...

I'm impressed with your energy and enthusiasm. The rule of three might be the parallel of the three paragraph composition. Useful information you shared here, Jo. Thank you.

The Bug said...

Personally I like paintings that are a little off-kilter - otherwise it's just a big photograph & I have my camera for that :)

I have a puzzle site that has a picture puzzle every day. I remember that they used that first painting as the picture one day & those pictures on the walls were confusing to me - they didn't seem to "go" where they were supposed to. Heh.

Single and Sane said...

It's interesting how artists have their own distinct style that sets them apart. I can't wait to see what you do!

Margaret

DJan said...

Yessiree, I will be watching this space, you can count on it! And what a great start you've made with this class. I cannot wait to see what you decide to do with your skill. It's already pretty darn amazing, if you ask me! :-)

jojo said...

I can't wait to see what comes next. I am the most unartistic person on earth so this is very exciting for me to see!

Cloudia said...

That's wonderful, Jo!





Aloha from Honolulu

Comfort Spiral

Russell said...

I'm glad you are taking the painting class. I have a feeling this will lead to many good things for you. The best thing is you will be able to meet new people and get contacts in the painting world.

It's always nice to socialize with people who share a common interest and who stimulate you to learn and do new things.

You never know where a new road will lead. Reminds me of a movie I like a lot call The Yes Man.

Just say yes! Heh!

the walking man said...

That room looks like every room I ever got drunk in. Looks OK to me.

susie said...

Jo, good for you! You are never to old to learn something new, and what a great class to take! You will learn lots of things in this class.

You'll do great because you are interested in learning! Bet your compositions turn out great too!

Lindy said...

Nice to see that you are stretching your artistic wings. You really do have talent. I am anxiously awaiting the reward for guessing the Picasso quiz some time ago....

Carla said...

Oh yes, I'll watch your space. Can't wait to see what you create. I'm so glad you're taking this class. And I have also heard of the "rule of three" in photography.

Katy said...

How fun... art class! I took an art class when I was in college and I loved it. Made me think of composition in colors in a whole new way. I hope we get to hear more about your class.

I think the best paintings aren't "perfect" paintings. I think the best ones invite us to use our imaginations.

rebecca said...

I always wished I had just a little itty-bitty talent to paint something....anything! My oldest sister is a wonderful landscape painter; I, on the other hand, know only how to paint with words....

SY said...

I love your style of writing.. I think I have to try something I've always wanted to try now..

JoMo said...

Fantastic! Enjoy every minute of it Jo!
Cheers,
Jo

Toyin O. said...

Beautiful paintings!

http://youcanfacetodaybecausehelives.blogspot.com/

young-eclectic-encounters said...

I envy you being able to take such a wonderful class were you are learning so much. I've learned from books, both bought and from the library and amazing I have learned a lot from you tube. Check out the golden ratio; there are several good videos. I enjoyed your analysis of the Van Gogh paintings.
Johnina :^A

Marguerite said...

You definitely have it, Jo, and you are very talented! I paint with acrylics, but find oil painting too tedious. Glad you are taking the class and I look forward to seeing your paintings! Have fun!

lgsquirrel said...

Thanks. I learned a lot from your post. All the best with the painting classes.

Land of shimp said...

Jo, I really love things that make me look twice and although perfection and symmetry are pleasing the eye, they don't necessarily hold my attention. I think your art-teacher is absolutely correct. Perfection isn't the goal as much as having a spark of interest is.

I'm glad you're taking the class, and I hope you enjoy it immensely.

Brenda said...

Good for you Jo! I am jealous. I would love to take classes but I just can't figure out how to kick myself into gear to do it yet.

Rómulo Vela Cervantes said...

Hi! Yes, Jo, perhaps the art is a matter of constant search, happy weekend! :D

Stephen said...

Last month I sat down for my very first piano lesson. The posture was uncomfortable, and I kept having to glance back and forth between the sheet music and the keys. Muscles and nerves that had never previously been coordinated had to work together. It doesn't matter that some 10-year-olds play better than I ever will be able to. If we stop learning, we start dying.