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ExpressiveAngie
09-25-2004, 03:21 PM
the theory of using odd numbers of things in your paintings? Is is because your eyes would dart back and forth if there are only 2? I have started another beach painting with (you guessed it!) 2 girls and cannot decide where I would put the 3rd girl. sigh....

Godzoned
09-25-2004, 03:58 PM
I don't know about this theory and interested in comments on this thread.

If you have to add another "object" have you tried adding a boat on the sea in the same colour as the girls - or a sandcastle bucket on the beach in the same colour of the girls? :wave:

joa
09-25-2004, 04:14 PM
Angie, I think that "theory" is just an oversimplification of the need to have balance in your paintings. You have a good sense of composition from what I have seen, and you really do not need to worry about this. Your paintings are showing a good balance--just forget the idea that you must have an odd number of "things" in your picture, and keep doing what you are doing!

Jo

Artguy29
09-25-2004, 04:26 PM
Generally an odd number of the subject(s) looks more balanced. If you were to use only two people, for example, it would be difficult to fit them nicely into the composistion. You could place one on each side of the painting, both in the middle or about any other combination. If you were to use three people, there would be many more combonations that would actually work. I wouldn't get too concerned about this, though. You'll know what looks right and what doesn't.

Dave

HRH Goldie
09-25-2004, 04:36 PM
Hi Angie, I wouldn't get too hung up on this so called rule of thumb. ie odd numbers looking better. It is generally recognised in all design fields that odd numbers work better. Particularly in gardening and landscape does this theory work well. It is however there to be broken and what looks nicer than two of the same specimen plants one either side of say a door entrance. If there were to be another added then it would muck up the symmetry. It therefore depends on the effect you want to achieve and that has to be a personal choice and decision. So far your beach paintings have worked wonderfully well and just because there was a throw away remark about this rule don't change your style for the sake of it. You have found something that works - so work with it, embrace it and make it your own. You know I love what you're doing at the moment and I think you're at the start of a very rewarding journey. File the rule in pending and somewhere along the road you will use it but for now your composition works and doesn't need changing.

Finally if you were painting an intimate image of a couple you wouldn't expect to have to place a third in the painting just for balance sake now would you? :evil: Lol On saying that with the way things are nowadays some people would think this was the norm :wink2:
Hope I've helped put this baby to bed :wave:

Christine

ExpressiveAngie
09-25-2004, 04:49 PM
Thanks guys---y'all ROCK! :clap:

Christine and Jo - I really appreciate the kind remarks about recent paintings ...Thank you both.

Heres the very early stages of the new one...


http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/25-Sep-2004/29518-Cnv0568.jpg

uncertainid
09-25-2004, 05:45 PM
I agree with what has been said already.Rules are made to be broken.
To answer your question: Two similar objects placed side by side makes the eye tend to concentrate on the space between them. Therefore two specimen plants on each side of a front door gives emphasis to the door. Similar pictures in a room tend to work better if they are one above the other, one smaller than the other or hung seperately. Likewise you can get away from this tendency in a painting by making the "two" dissimilar in size, value, or position; you can add some interest to the space between them, or perhaps a shadow that will lead the eye in a circle from one to the other....you get the idea. Hope this helps.
sara

billiam
09-25-2004, 06:46 PM
you can put them anywhere, pastelmama rules. you have had good placement in all of your paintings. i thought it was about time for you to post. waiting on the next one. bill

Richard Saylor
09-25-2004, 07:50 PM
the theory of using odd numbers of things in your paintings? Is is because your eyes would dart back and forth if there are only 2? I have started another beach painting with (you guessed it!) 2 girls and cannot decide where I would put the 3rd girl. sigh....
It depends on the composition. Obviously the distinction between odd and even is to be taken with a grain of salt. Who would care whether a landscape contains 32 or 33 trees?

Marty C
09-25-2004, 08:33 PM
Hi Angie,
The whole even odd thing is basically a composition argument. The aim of good composition is to get the eye to the focal point and basically to keep it in the general area with enough features to keep the viewer interested. Whether it is odd or even is largely irrelevant, it is the placement of the focal elements which is important. Having said that, working with just two elements is a very difficult task and usually requires something in addition to the focal elements to make the piece work. Having just one element actually works better, as it concentrates the eye to that element. Three also works, depending on placement, as it sets up a circular eye path which keeps the viewer in the picture. Two is difficult, but not impossible.
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/25-Sep-2004/16809-29518-lifeguard.jpg
In this earlier work of yours, you have three main elements which set up a circular eye path in the center of the work. This is a good composition, it keeps the viewer interested and the eye moving around without exiting the work. The circular eye path is very important and really is the key. It is easier to set up a circular path with odd numbers than even, as odd numbers set up
the necessary balance of objects to get a circular path going.
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/25-Sep-2004/16809-29518-Cnv0568.jpg
In your current work, you have a large area of space to the right(yellow ellipse) which is wasted space, the eye pretty well dismisses it straight away. You have two dark areas(green ellipses) to left and right with a light area between. The two figures frame this light area, the eye is attracted to light over dark and the net effect is the eye goes straight between the two figures on, up and out of the work. There is nothing to set up a circular eye path, so you lose your viewer very quickly. I hope this helps a little. For even more help it might be a good idea to post in the Composition and Design Forum (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/channels.php?s=&channel_id=11)

Ursus17
09-26-2004, 08:18 AM
Angie I'm looking forward to seeing this one develop! I know you said its just in the beginning stages but it already looks great.

I'm glad you asked this question because I'd heard the same thing and never really understood. Everyone gave such informative answers and I appreciate you asking a question that I had but hadn't really figured out.

Thanks!

ExpressiveAngie
09-26-2004, 08:33 AM
Thanks Sara Bill and Richard ... Bill I llike PastelMama Rules :D
Marty thank you for summing it all up for me in such a clear way and using my own paintings for reference...you're the man :clap:
Hi Anna :wave: glad my questions help. Ready for Hurricane Jeanne?

Anita Orsini
09-27-2004, 12:09 AM
The principle that applies to this is dominance. I just wrote a post in the compositon forum that explains my view point on this. I hope you do not mind if I copy and paste it here.

As to the relevance of the so called "rules" of design and composition there is an analogy that I like to use with my students. I tell them to think of the principles of design and composition as a list of ingredients that can be put into a good cake. Some are common such as eggs and wheat flour and others more unusual like pineapple or even sauerkraut. Some would be hard to do without, like eggs, but it is possible to make a good cake without them. You do not need to use all of the ingredients on the list in one cake, only enough in the right combination to make it taste good. I believe this is why we see paintings that "break the rules" and still work well.

If your composition is not working,this type of dominance is something you might want to investigate. Otherwise, I would consider it an ingredient your painting doesn't need. :)
Anita

lensman
09-27-2004, 10:23 AM
Finally if you were painting an intimate image of a couple you wouldn't expect to have to place a third in the painting just for balance sake now would you? :evil: Lol On saying that with the way things are nowadays some people would think this was the norm :wink2:
Hope I've helped put this baby to bed :wave:


Christine, is it wise to mention threesomes and bed in the same paragraph ;)


Seriously though... this is the sort of question I like seeing answered here on WC. One really has to put more thought into a painting than one would if just pressing a camera shutter button. And that is part of the problem with using photo's as reference (not that you may have done that, PastelMama); photo's are used primarily as a means of reminding us of people and events, and simply copying them can be fatal.

Glenn

theIsland
09-27-2004, 11:21 AM
It's a beautiful start, but your instincts are right about the two figures. I think shadows could be used very effectively to tie two figures together. In your painting, your shadows lead us into the ocean, which separates the two figures even more. If the shadow of the girl on the left led us to the girl on the right and the object she's reaching for, then we'd see them more as a unit, and get that circular motion going that keeps us inside the painting.

I'm attaching a painting I did for a WDE as an example of a unifying shadow. I can't take credit for the composition - I just copied Charlie's Mum's reference photo, which already had all the elements in place. She used the shadows of the children very effectively to connect them. The shadow of the little girl leads right to her big brother's hand, which implies a further connection between them.

Looking forward to seeing the finished piece!

Noma

Einion
09-27-2004, 03:15 PM
Hi Angie, I wouldn't get too hung up on this so called rule of thumb. ie odd numbers looking better. It is generally recognised in all design fields that odd numbers work better. Particularly in gardening and landscape does this theory work well. It is however there to be broken and what looks nicer than two of the same specimen plants one either side of say a door entrance.
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/20-Aug-2003/3842-thumbsup.gif

The basic idea of odd numbers I think stems from the idea that it's very easy to make a regular, symmetrical arrangement of an even number of elements - symmetry generally being an inferior compositional scheme the argument goes. But this is obviously a gross oversimplification as you can create asymmetry with an even number of elements by varying their size, position, value and colour, or all of these. And by the same token you can have a symmetrical arrangement of an odd number of elements too but just centring one :)

Symmetry is often given as a bad thing compositionally (just as placing the focal point dead centre is) but of course this is highly personal and you can find examples of both done throughout history and sometimes the formality of a symmetrical arrangement is suitable and sometime not.

If you want more input on this sort of question don't forget the Composition & Design (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?s=&daysprune=&f=23) forum here, which is often overlooked and underutilised.

Einion

just dave
10-01-2004, 01:51 PM
This "theory" is one of the "rules of composition." Those rules are observations of what "looks right" in artworks to most viewers. It is not going to possible to explain each of these "rules" because we humans have complicated, interconnected mind that is influenced by such things as genetic memory and intangibles that we cannot describe or analyze effectively.

It is said that "rules are made to be broken," but the only good reason to do something that is counter to the rules of composition is in order to make some kind of statement that requires that those rules be broken.

Anita Orsini
10-01-2004, 03:35 PM
It is said that "rules are made to be broken," but the only good reason to do something that is counter to the rules of composition is in order to make some kind of statement that requires that those rules be broken.

I don't mean to be argumentative but I would really have to disagree here, Dave. I don't think it is possible or desirable to adhere to all of the rules of design and composition in a single piece of art.
Anita :)

HRH Goldie
10-01-2004, 05:39 PM
Dave - That is a mighty sentence that certainly is difficult to get your head around. I read it 4 times and it still has me puzzled - or is that just me? :p

Christine

peapod
10-03-2004, 04:36 PM
I seem to think that the odd number mostly applies when dealing with small numbers of natural objects in landscapes, maybe under ten, or whatever number it is that you can't see at a glance how many objects there are.

Like Rich Saylor said, who cares if you have 32 or 33 trees. But, 5 trees will look better to me than 4 or 6.

Mostly becuase it looks more "natural". In landscapes, a small even number of natural objects looks manmade, so to speak. At least to me.

Are there places where there are only 6 or 8 trees? i'm sure, but in a painting it seems to look worse.

I think this rule applies less with regards to other objects such as people. I'm not sure that 2 people would look worse than 3, yet i'm pretty sure that 2 trees will always look worse than 3. Whenever you are trying for a natural feel that is.

My feeling is that the odd number rule always applies with regard to painting trees, bushes, rocks, other natural objects in landscapes, but for other objects that don't need to have a random "natural" feel to them such as people, the number that you use is up to what makes a better composition.

peapod
10-03-2004, 04:41 PM
oh, and I think the example given that 2 specimens on either side of an entrance looks great is a wonderful point.

And also explains what I tend to think. The manmade look of two plants on either side of an entrance is totally acceptable given that it is of course a door...no one is trying to emulate the free natural look of foliage in that case.

If you were, then having 2 on one side and 1 on the other would change it from "neat manmade house" to "house overgrown with weeds in the woods".