Dumlat

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mdmattin
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Dumlat

Post by mdmattin » Sun Dec 09, 2018 12:50 am

I've been thinking about sketching in the sense of making preliminary studies for a more finished work and what the underlying thought process might be. I have different ways and reasons for starting a sketch - I might want to tell a story, or explore a design concept, or get through a boring meeting. I sometimes start knowing what the subject, dimensions, and medium of the finished piece are going to be; other times, I'm just freely doodling. But no matter how it starts, there are attributes of a composition that can be considered in isolation or in relation to each other, such as the tonal values, linear rhythms, shape relations, etc.

I've been playing with an idea of breaking these out as thumbnails around the periphery of a single page, with the wholistic version of the finished composition in the center, like this:
dumlat sm.jpg
dumlat sm.jpg (116.02KiB)Viewed 3035 times
Each peripheral panel is assigned a particular role, and all feed into the central panel. If I want to fiddle with the play of light, I can do that in its own panel, and if I like it, carry the consequent changes over to the values map or whatever other elements are affected, and finally integrate it into the central panel. If I decide I don't like what I tried, I've only messed up one panel, instead of hacking away at the whole thing.

Different people will probably have different ways of breaking a composition out. For me, they are:
  • Grid, which covers general layout and proportional divisions of the picture plane, and provides a coordinate system to help keep the other panels lined up with each other.
    Shapes - the "jigsaw puzzle" of flat shapes carving up the picture plane, which should have their own interesting qualities.
    Tones - areas of light and dark values, seen as an abstract pattern, as well as contributing to the play of light, modeling, and overall mood.
    Light - the play of light in the scene, including the location and direction of light sources, angle and length of shadows, and intensity of contrast.
    Story - what the picture is about - people, buildings, trees, etc
    Lines - Gesture, line of action, eye control - the dynamic forces that lead the viewer into and through the picture
    Design - Balance, priority of elements, underlying structure.
    Space - Linear and atmospheric perspective, relative size, occlusion of back ground by forground objects - all the things that define the 3d space.
No one of these is paramount, although at different times one or another may take the lead.

I'm calling it "Dumlat," because it reminds me of the Talmud, but in reverse. Instead of starting with a central text and adding surrounding commentary, you start with peripheral components and build a central image.

I used this method to design a small drawing for a condolence card to a friend who recently lost her husband:
escarpment sm.jpg
escarpment sm.jpg (242.17KiB)Viewed 3035 times
Ironically, after all that work in the 5:7 format, when I looked at the card stock I realized it would work better as 3:5. However, having done the prep work, I was able to adapt it to the new format fairly easily.

Matthew

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Rebecca
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Re: Dumlat

Post by Rebecca » Sun Dec 09, 2018 5:43 am

I do these, too. Sometimes as a collection on one page, each framed, like yours. Sometimes scribbled out in a notebook, wherever they might fit. Sometimes, frameless, they overlap each other, because I want to keep the references all on one page. I've got some going like that right now. I usually build the picture plane line a bit after the main elements are decided on. I've never used the grid. Must think about why that might help. Why does the grid help you?
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Re: Dumlat

Post by mdmattin » Sun Dec 09, 2018 6:18 am

The grid has a couple of uses to me. Sometimes I want to explore a design concept that is grounded in the proportions of the rectangle - in this case, the ratio 5:7 (1:1.4) is very close to that of 1:√2 (1:1.414..), which opened up the mathemagical properties of the root 2 rectangle, which when cut in half produces two more root 2 rectangles rotated 90˚.
The other use is to provide a frame of reference, making it easy to relate the sketches to each other and scale them up. You can see traces of that in the scan, where the horizon line and various diagonals and tick marks appear in multiple panels.
The grid might be useful to you or it might not - I think the categories will vary from artist to artist and even from one project to another by the same artist. If I was doing a picture with a very simple composition I might not bother with the grid and put my energy into something else, like interesting shape relationships or dynamic lines.
I would be interested to see yours, if you're willing to post them.
Matthew

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Rebecca
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Re: Dumlat

Post by Rebecca » Sun Dec 09, 2018 6:28 pm

mdmattin wrote:...I would be interested to see yours, if you're willing to post them...
I found one which I completely abandoned. I'm keeping viable ones out of public view. Later, I might find some that became paintings already.
But, do you want these posted here? Should we keep this thread about Dumlat, or expand the topic to planning paintings?
Rebecca

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Re: Dumlat

Post by mdmattin » Sun Dec 09, 2018 6:46 pm

A new thread called "Planning Paintings" would probably be best - visitors won't know what a Dumlat is.
Matthew

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Re: Dumlat

Post by Rebecca » Sun Dec 09, 2018 7:03 pm

mdmattin wrote:A new thread called "Planning Paintings" would probably be best - visitors won't know what a Dumlat is.
Matthew
Would you start it, copy over the relevant sketches and comments above to keep the continuity?
Rebecca

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Re: Dumlat

Post by mdmattin » Mon Dec 10, 2018 4:46 am

Planning Paintings is up.
Matthew

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