“He called himself a carpenter; he was, in fact, a cabinetmaker. Mr. Griffith discarded lumber he regarded as inferior. He would cut a board, and test it, and take off a little more with his plane, and finally he would fit the board precisely. He cut every mortise as if he were a jeweler cutting the facets of diamonds. He sandpapered; he polished; he filled every nail hole. He made square corners. He cared.” —James J. Kilpatrick, The Writer’s Art.
Yes, Mr. Griffith cared. He had a standard against which to measure his efforts. Not only did he care, he knew. He must have been well trained. In our day there has been a liberation of feelings; narrow self-interest has been encouraged, and few people admit to the proliferation of shoddy work. If you feel good about what you do, you are blessed. Anyone daring to suggest ways of improving the work of another risks social suicide.
Nowhere is this public display of private feelings more apparent than in the art class. The art teacher must be one of the more compromised by this social phenomenon. How can one offer critical suggestions to a ‘student’ who is experiencing personal fulfillment from fatuous work? The conditions which obtain in most art classes resemble those of a mental institution, where inmates are humored in the fragile hope of improvement.
In the June 1984 issue of ‘Time Magazine’ the respected art critic Robert Hughes reviewed an exhibition of drawings from the Victoria and Albert Museum: “Such nuts and bolts are laid out with unfailing clarity: all the technical stuff one thinks one knows but is hazy about is there. It is reported that 20% of Americans are illiterate, and 45% say they never read books: so it is not too dyspeptic a guess that 99% cannot read a drawing.”
Graphic languages consist of coded marks. The untutored are most unlikely to decipher these on their own, and our times discourage quibblers who concern themselves with the technicalities of proper usage. However, if one is unable to read a drawing, one cannot hope to understand artworks of any kind; drawing is the basic language of all design.
If 99% of Americans are unable to read a drawing, we must turn to our schools to discover why. We shall find that art, the fine arts — the nuts and bolts of the language, is rarely taught, and drawing. . . almost never. Crafts are taught. Something like illustration or commercial art is taught. Crafts and commercial art are not art.
A drawing of an apple is not to be confused with an apple. The standards which determine the quality of an apple are not those by which one evaluates a drawing; drawing is not about appearances. An ignorant but faithful copy of an apple is not a drawing. In few schools, public or professional, will one find drawing taught with respect or understanding. Mr. Hughes has reason to lament. Mr. Kilpatrick has reason to nostalgically describe the work of a fine craftsman, hoping to excite young writers to toil with purpose at the code used to represent our spoken language.
If, as many believe, we mostly get what we deserve; Americans are content with the low standards in art teaching. Art teachers are pleased with the quality of their training, and most art school graduates are untroubled to be numbered among the 99% of Americans who cannot read a drawing.
The exhibition called “Reading Drawings” that is now on view at the Drawing Center is as elegant a teaching show as one might wish to see. Why study drawings at all? Because they are often the clearest index to a painter’s intentions; finished or fragmentary, they are the deposit left by the process of image forming, the residue of the dartings and probings that constitute pictorial thought.
A century ago, most educated people drew as a matter of course because it was the best way to remember what they saw. Great Aunt Lucinda with her watercolor set, earnestly dabbling in the shade of the Duomo, may have been a figure of mild fun; but she (multiplied by tens of thousands) was also the ground from which the tremendous graphic achievements of a Degas or a Matisse could rise. Such amateur experience added up to a general recognition that to draw, to reconstitute a motif as a code of lines and tonal patches, is to think, and that such thought forms the root of all visual literacy.
A stroll in SoHo today, by contrast, will furnish any number of artists who can barely trace, let alone draw. Was the long derided practice of drawing from plaster casts rather than the living model really as deadening as we were once told? Assuredly not, as anyone can tell from the almost terrifyingly obtrusive student drawing of a plaster foot by the future English academician, Sir Luke Fildes.
Learn Dynamic Symmetry in Art and Photography for Free (No Marketing Nonsense - Only Real World Information)
No Monthly Membership Fees Free Video Lectures on Dynamic Symmetry Free Tips and Techniques PDF Free Simple to Apply Dynamic Symmetry Grid Pack (160) Free Photography Portfolio Review (1-10 Images) Unbiased Product Reviews and Recommendations Weekly Podcasts on Dynamic Symmetry Over 10 Years Experience in Design Over 37 Years Experience in Photography
The Benefits of Learning Dynamic Symmetry and Real Design
-Create Masterful Art and Photography That's Easy to Sell! -Build a Portfolio That Far Exceeds Your Competitors! -Watch Your Self Confidence Grow as Your Skills Improve! =Gain Respect From Your Peers and Become a Highly Trained Artist! -Learn the Design Techniques that Make Your Art Come to Life! -Learn How to Stop Relying on "Intuition" and Start Using Real Skills! -Discover the Secrets of Composition That Master Artists Don't Want You to Know!
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
"Jim offers something that is almost impossible to find online: a truly one-of-a-kind resource. His information about Dynamic Symmetry is meticulously researched and comes from a place of knowledge and genuine interest, not sales, as so many educational sites do. Reading his surprisingly accessible work has helped me to grow artistically in a deliberate and satisfying way. I return to Dynamic Symmetry Art regularly and always learn something new." - Rebecca Isenhart
"The information provided in The Art of Composition: A Dynamic Symmetry User's Guide for the Modern Artist has been a tremendous resource for me as an artist and photographer. My photography work has improved tremendously, and all of my clients agree! I'll continue to share this user's guide with all of my peers and other creative artists." - Zine Massey
"I just graduated from the BFA in Graphic Design at the Federal University of Pernambuco, in Brazil, and one of the chapters of my monograph was about composition. As a motion designer, the proper layout of elements is a very important phase in my creative process, so any tool that helps with making decisions on that is very valuable. What I love about your studies is that it's full of images and resources, it's a gold mine in my opinion. Thanks for providing so much information at an affordable price." - Eveline Falcão
"The Art of Composition: A Dynamic Symmetry User's Guide for the Modern Artist deserves to be a physical book in Barnes & Noble & on my coffee table!" - Elliot McGucken
"The Art of Composition: A Dynamic Symmetry User's Guide for the Modern Artist is, without a doubt, one of the most comprehensive e-books ever written on the topic of design in art. Whether you're a beginner, intermediate, or advanced art/photography student, this user's guide is indispensable. I recommend it to all of my artists and photographers and have it linked to my website The Artist Angle." - Jennifer Finley
"Though I am not a newcomer to photography, I am far from being a professional. So too, it has only been in the past few months that I discovered dynamicsymmetryart.com. I was transformed from being concerned with camera equipment, f-stops, shutter speed, ISO to considering how I would apply the principles of classical art training to my photography.
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.
I have found dynamicsymmetryart.com extremely beneficial, and it has contributed immensely with my efforts to improve as a photographer. Thank you for your commitment to art and art education." - Warren Wish
"There’s been something missing in my photography for some time now. It felt like I’d hit a brick wall. I was finding great locations and taking beautiful photos, but again, something was missing. I had no idea what it was; I just knew it was there.
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.
I, for one, can’t thank Jim enough for all the time and effort he has put into this and for taking my photography to the next level. His website and Youtube channel are both superb, and I'd like to thank him for sharing the knowledge on what is a very fascinating subject." - Tim B
"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
Help Support This Website (Click here for the podcast)
If you like The Art of Composition: A Dynamic Symmetry User's Guide for the Modern Artist and want to help support Dynamic Symmetry Art, please feel free to make a donation of $1.00 or more using the PayPal button below. All donations go to help support dynamicsymmetryart.com and all the associated costs of keeping this website online. This includes software and hardware updates as well as my time and expertise allocated for research in order to better help the artist and photographer improve their lifetime body of work.