|WORKING WITH COMPOSITION
Paul Gaugin - Harvest Scene (1889)
Edward Hopper - Seven A.M. (1948)
When we speak of an artist's composition we mean, in simplest terms, the arrangement and relationship of each of
the parts of his painting -- the shapes, the colors, the lines, patterns and spaces. Creating a composition on
canvas is, in a sense, something like building a brick house -- all of the pieces work together to create the whole,
and no one can be changed without affecting all the others.
Composition is not, by any means, tied to any inflexible rules -- there is no one "right" way to apply colors, no
"perfect" configuration of shapes. If that were the case, one picture would look very much like another, and no one
would ever try anything new. Rather, in the end, a composition depends on the artist's own particular sense of what
is "right" -- to his eye and for his purposes. A true masterpiece communicates that sense to us.
Harvest Scene, painted over one hundred years ago, is representative of Paul Gaugin's bright, decorative
compositions that seemed daring and unsettling to the people of his day. Every softly rounded shape, vivid area of
color, and strong line work together toward his purpose of creating a feeling -- perhaps one of imagined
peacefulness and content as the peasants work in their fields. In Edward Hopper's Seven A.M, there are no people,
there is no activity, no story is being told -- and yet his intriguing composition pulls us into the picture of a solitary,
empty storefront on a back road of America. In this session’s GalleryTime we examine each painting closely to
learn how these famous artists composed such appealing, effective works of art.