Art Bites: The Curve, Line & Shape of Things

Barb Toland art creativity georgia o'keeffe inspiration painting watercolor

So we've been focused on Georgia O'Keeffe's extraordinary life & art this month.
In keeping with that theme, I want to talk about a concept that she was able to absolutely master in her body of work. I mean ... she REALLY NAILS IT. It's something I talked about last week here, but I think it's so important to keep in mind when creating, that it's worth spending more time discussing.
There are many things that O'Keeffe does well in her work. But her ability to shift the viewer's focus to the line, contour & shape of a thing, instead of the thing itself, is so brilliant that what we are going to continue to expand on it today.
(If you haven't read the other posts about her this month, you can find them in these 2 blog posts):
She has a magnificent command of line, which then leads to contour, and finally to shape. It doesn't matter so much what subject or object her starting point is. By following the undulating shapes & lines she sees in her mind's eye, they become more abstract, and ultimately a much truer reflection of her inner world.
Below are some examples of paintings where she embodies this idea of focusing on the line & contour of something, instead of the subject itself:
  
  
Are they not mesmerizing and FABULOUS, or what?!!!!
I don't know about you, but I feel as though I'm walking around in the fertile soil of her creative mind. She has a fascinating way of "seeing" what surrounds her, and then translating that to the canvas.
And don't even get me started on her sense of color ... oh my word, they are luscious!
When I look back across my body of work thus far, more than any other painting I've done, the idea of shifting the viewer's focus to line, shape & contour is most predominant in this particular painting...

 

Leaf Shadow

There have been others that are pretty darn close, but I must say - I nailed it in this one!

I try to stay humble most days lol, but I can't help it when I feel exceptionally content with something I've created. We ALL need to let our inner child beam proudly just a bit, and feel joy at what we've created!

Ok, one more piece by Georgia O'Keeffe, and then I promise it's time to run & jump & play:)

This O'Keeffe piece below is called, Winter Road ... the most exquisite, "zen" painting I've ever had the pleasure of seeing.

Wow. Just wow.

Nothing wasted.

One single brush stroke.

Pure line...

I was blessed that the very first drawing class I took as an adult was meant to discipline my mind's eye on the technique of "contour drawing". It has been the number one contributor of how I approach a new painting, and I'm so thankful that I "stumbled" into it.
 
Basically, it's exactly what the word "contour" implies. We were taught to train ourselves to observe & draw the lines we saw, and disregard the subject. The first half of the class, we were not even allowed to do any shading - it was all about the line!
 
The next time you're looking at something - whether it's a flower, a shell, a child's face, a cityscape etc., try to focus less on what you're looking at, and more on what you see.
 
What lines do you see? What are the various shapes? How can you break down what you're looking at into individual pieces?
 
Relax your mind a bit, and simply observe the lines & shapes of what you're looking at.
 
By practicing this, you will begin to see more of a thing's essence, and less about its content. This practice will help you tap more successfully into the creative, right side of your brain - where most of the magic happens!
 
Now go play ... skipping allowed:)


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