This is the fifth issue of my Language of Painting series. This post looks at Size. If you'd like to review the previous discussions, Here
are the links: Color, go HERE -- Value, go HERE-- Shape, go HERE. For last week's issue on Texture, go HERE.
The basic language of painting is its vocabulary, the bare bones visual elements that cause us to see images the way we do. Each of these elements plays a specific role. Successful painting is dependent upon how we cause them to play that role in concert with one another.
The element of size doesn't get enough lip service, especially considering what a large role it plays in how we see and how we put together our
The size of anything is its measurement. You know that. But one of the roles played by that single element is that it enables our eyes to see things receding into distance. Our eyes
see images getting smaller the farther away they are from us, even though we know their measurements don't actually change. I illustrate that in the photo above.
John Burton's painting below is an example of how the artist can use size to show distance. Notice how the size of each woman gets smaller the further into distance she is located.
The other major role size plays in our painting process is to enable us to show proportion. Proportion is the relationship of one size to
another--how much smaller or larger it is. Without seeing that relationship, the painter will create shapes that are awkward, often disturbing to the mind, and misshapen.
Cartoonist, though, often use out-of-proportion parts of images to give their characters identity or charm, illustrated by the oversized eyes in this drawing taken from a YouTube video.
Compare the size of the distance between the eyes and each face's top of head and both sides of the faces. The is a functional and intentional use of disproportional size to create a character. But
when Richard Schmid painted the portrait of Zorro, he paid attention to the actual proportion of the eyes to the face. THAT kind of relationship is crucial to portrait painting, whether human or critter.
The beautiful thing about proportion is that we can use it to enlarge or shrink any image without changing any characteristic of the image. That is size doing its job.
Not only that, but we can change the image's value, color, texture and/or shape and if we keep is size relationship, we will recognize the image.
So, when working with size, the painter is comparing measurements of one shape (negative or positive) to another to find their relationship, the amount of space between
visible edges. That includes the distance or closeness of images within the painting. Wherever there are two edges, there's a size of space between them.
The miracle of size's role as a visual element is its power, when joined with value, color, shape, texture and the other elements, to define a proportion that enables us to recognize a shape, to balance shapes in our artwork, or to know a distance.
Enjoy an exhilarating weekend of discovery!
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