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Old 09-04-2009, 06:32 PM   #1
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Ron Leming
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It's a funny thing

I haven't done any personal work lately due to being overloaded with book covers to do and graphics for a convention. But it's led me to notice something I've never noticed before. I'm something of a detail freak. I'm hampered in this due to a very very poor computer, but I still try to get in all the detail I can that fits. But my last few images, I've noticed that the image seems uncompleted or not whole unless I add one detail. It's often not an important detail, but it's also often something in the foreground. In one recent image it was a hummingbird. In another it was a beheaded teddy bear. In my last image, it was a cat. These are in no way details which are important to the actual image as it's constructed. But in some mysterious way, that final detail is the single thing that pulls the image together, makes it whole, adds the magic. I don't understand this, and I am a person who feels the need to understand. This is not something that they taught me in art school, nor something I've ever read about. Yet it works. My feeling is that it has something to do with composition and balance, but I'm unsure in what way this applies. I've tried to deconstruct some classic art, in my case pre raphaelite art, since that's what I prefer, but I can't figure out which detail in any given picture is THE one. That detail without which the entire image would seem in some way unfinished. Maybe it's the jug on the table, or the dog on the floor. It's a quandry to me, as I feel I'm on the verge of something important here which will expand my knowledge and skills, but I'm unsure just what it is I'm on the verge of. Anyone have any ideas of how this works? I mean, I'm a year away from turning 60, and have been an artists most of my life. This seems like some important concept I should have been aware of before now.
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Old 09-05-2009, 03:42 AM   #2
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Felipe Budinich
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I think you are right, it is composition related.

I'll use a bad analogy:

You want to make a table, so you need a flat surface and four legs, if any of this pieces is missing it just falls apart.
 
Old 09-08-2009, 12:00 AM   #3
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I looked at the mentioned pieces in your portfolio, and yes, it's composition. The simplest explanation is how one balances all the elements in an image by offsetting various sizes and shapes and colors and values and surface density...etc so they form an interesting and pleasing whole. I have an entire week devoted to composition in my upcoming workshop, and it's one of the most interesting aspects of an image because it can be both very technical and instinctive at the same time.
 
Old 09-08-2009, 12:37 AM   #4
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I tend to prefer what I suppose is called three point composition. I'm not able to sit and discuss reasons why this may be. It just seems that's what works for me. I've been doing art so long, I simply don't think about composition any more. I just know, when i'm working on something, that this goes here and that goes there and that other thing belongs over there. I have this thing about balance, not just in composition, but in color and light and stuff like that. Things have to balance, at least to my sight and feeling. But I swear, I honestly never noticed this last detail thing before. It's always something small, but it's what pulls everything together. It's very weird to me. Also odd to me that I discovered it when working on a book cover for a client, rather than personal work. You would think it would be the other way round.
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Old 09-09-2009, 09:09 PM   #5
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When doing small detail composition, I've found useful to read Neil Blevin's page on Primary, secondary and tertiary shapes.

I always find the small details harder to place, i always populate my images with a lot of stuff, then i go on and remove stuff until it is neatly composited.
 
Old 09-10-2009, 04:17 PM   #6
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"I always find the small details harder to place, i always populate my images with a lot of stuff, then i go on and remove stuff until it is neatly composited."

Well, I'm a professional writer as well as an artist, and always have been, and I think those two creative skills influence each other. I am a detail freak, but they have to be the RIGHT details. They have to contribute to the story. It's like, other people do architectural renders, which I have a liking for, but they never look lived in. When I do an interior, my details are to give the impression that someone actually lives there and uses the room. I have this concept of life interrupted, in which an image captures a moment in time in which someone has been there, just stepped out, and will be back at any moment. So there may be magazines on the table, a glass of beer, and so on. The impression of life, of occupancy. Details, yes, but telling details.
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Old 09-10-2009, 04:17 PM   #7
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