Perfection in art is the settled feeling that there is nothing extraneous to the piece— that every line, tone, and color is perfectly orchestrated so that each part works for the benefit of the whole. Nothing can be removed without damaging the integrity of the painting. To achieve this kind of harmony, the artist must make careful decisions about the composition of his piece.
During this stage, the artist is creating theme and variation in both line and value. The subject of the painting can be distilled into simplified linear movements or angle directions that lead the viewer’s eye through the work. The most simple of these are vertical, horizontal, and diagonal vectors, which create a strong statement if they are repeated throughout the artwork. For example, the repetition of vertical lines could be found in a forest scene, creating a sense of towering strength and stability while also forming an almost musical rhythm. This repetition helps convey the intentions of the artist through a hierarchy of directional line.
Another linear element to consider is the curved gestural line, or arabesque, which draws the eye from one area of the painting to another, like the proverbial fairy tale of the hunter following the guiding ball of string through the wilderness. Enclosures, where arcs are used to encompass visual elements within simple circular shapes, are yet another unifying compositional tool. These can be as simple as relating the left side of a figure’s ribcage to the right or as complicated as binding together a number of sweeping forms in a crowd of dancing figures. Enclosures can also take the form of other shapes in two and three dimensions.
When organizing a composition in value, the artist looks for an overall mood, such as a high key, low key, or middle key, as discussed in Chapter Three. Additionally, he prioritizes a principal value arrangement, both determining the areas of highest contrast and distilling the surrounding value into the biggest possible masses. This generates a beautiful and simple framework for the more detailed areas. When two artists are equally competent technically, the artist who is able to create a more brilliant composition will surpass the other every time.
Classical Painting Atelier: A Contemporary Guide to Traditional Studio Practice
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What Others Are Saying About Dynamic Symmetry Art "James Cowman's user's guide on composition and Dynamic Symmetry, in particular, was one of the greatest milestones on my journey of becoming a better artist. Dynamicsymmetryart.com is undoubtedly the best resource on the subject out there, which I keep recommending to anyone interested in taking their compositions to a new level. It shocks me that even otherwise excellent artists today often know nothing about these old systems and rely mostly on their intuition to create their compositions. It's time that artists rediscover and revive the lost knowledge of the old masters and bring art back to its former glory. Jame's user's guide is a unique and invaluable resource in this effort." - Storm Engineer
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As I began reading about the old world masters, including da Vinci, Degas, Rembrandt, and Renoir, I learned that Dynamic Symmetry structurally changed paintings from being passive to active and dynamic. Furthermore, I didn’t realize that a small, yet renowned, group of photographers were well known for using Dynamic Symmetry in their photographs of city life and people.
My journey began by reading. The Dynamic Symmetry Art website has numerous resources that gave me a crash course in art and composition. I had to learn about the visual properties of different kinds of rectangles and how each can be divided into compositional elements. Then I began using the Dynamic Symmetry grid overlays in Lightroom to analyze and crop my photos.
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I found myself repeatedly falling back on the Rule of Thirds, but this was becoming more of a hindrance rather than a help. Then one day I had the good fortune to stumble across the website Dynamicsymmetryart.com. There is no better teacher or resource on the internet regarding Dynamic Symmetry and best of all everything is free! I can assure you, once you begin to delve into the rich offerings on this site you won’t have any need to look elsewhere.
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"With the passing of Myron Barnstone, we lost a great resource on the application of the Rectangles of the Masters and the Golden Section in creating art. But the website dynamicsymmetryart.com is carrying on that work Myron so thoroughly believed in and taught. Dynamic Symmetry can be used in the simplest of ways as well as being infinitely complex if one desires. Great minds such as Leonardo da Vinci recognized the power that this compositional tool offers.
Dynamicsymmetryart.com is an amazing reference for artists who are open to exploring the benefits of using Dynamic Symmetry in their work. It applies to all the arts and resonates at a primal level of understanding harmony and beauty. Much thanks to James Cowman for his dedication to furthering this information to the public." - Master Artist and Teacher,Dot Bunn, Red Stone Farm Studio
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