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Thread: Realism vs construction(a guide to choosing the right art education)

  1. #451
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonas Heirwegh View Post
    Nature has the best design and the best designers are the ones who studied nature very thoroughly. They all respected nature most, from Raphael to Repin no question.
    I would suggest you to read up on the neo-platonic thought that was a serious part of the renaissance.
    It is true that the renaissance masters studied nature intensively, but that they respected it most?
    As far as I know about Michelangelo he cared more about the old greek idealized statues, following an idealized set of proportions as well as an idealized anatomy - the shapes of the muscles may infact not be derived from nature at all - like many old greek statues - but be designed after what looks the most beautiful.
    According to a book I have, all early and a lot of later greek statues was designed following a geometric design, rather than being copied from nature. The quote I posted earlier from Platon seems to suggest the same.
    His "truth" is first and foremost geometry, and the other truth comming from Pythagoras school is that of numbers.
    So here you have the most serious influences on greek sculpture design, geometry and numbers, studying nature was a much later school of thought. And please don't forget that the greeks pretty much got their whole culture from the egyptians.

    As for Raphael, I've read somewhere that he never deviated from the ideal face design of his own master. Look at the tiny mouth in their faces. This is design and taste, not from nature.

    I posted this earlier, might as well repost it here

    (from the book A world history of art Di Hugh Honour,John Fleming)

    Naturalism and idealization
    .... A new attitude to the statue as a visual equivalent and not a reduplication of its subject, had emerged out of attempts to invest marbles and bronzes with the appearance of life. Socrates is reported as saying of statues, that "the quality of seeming alive has the strongest visual appeal."
    But shortly before the middle of the 4th century BC his follower Plato condemned further developments towards naturalism, drawing a distinction between the art of producing a likeness and the art of producing an appearance with a reactionary preference for the former.
    "Artists nowadays care nothing for truth, they incorporate into their images not proportions that really are beautiful, but those that appear to be so."
    In another passage he praised the Egyptians, who did not allow painters and sculptors "to make innovations or to create forms other than the traditional ones."

    Last edited by hummel1dane; February 12th, 2010 at 09:32 AM.
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  4. #452
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    Quote Originally Posted by lena murray View Post
    I feel totally the same. Basically, what happens when you draw a lot and in a thoughtful way, you create a vocabulary of images. You notice the characteristics of things.

    Also, you know this excercise. Work on a cast or figure for a long long time, and then paint and draw it from memory. It's really easy. Basically you remember your own drawing or painting of it. I was told that Rubens lived with a pencil. Of course, there are a lot of people who mindlessly go to these live drawing classes for 20 years, and never improve. And that's probably because they don't think when they work, just copy the nature.

    Constructional diagrams (anatomy drawings) help a great deal when you are learning. And it's a good idea to consult them when you encounter something similar in your model, but I agree that drawing a lot of this made-up stuff ends up as a piece very far from nature or what this particular figure is really doing. Every individual figure is different from another, and sometimes you observe things you can hardly belive in a human body.

    Indeed I agree, there needs to be individuality and you can only get that from nature. When drawing to much from memory early on you will repeat the same shapes over and over.
    Drawing from nature also doesnt necessarly mean copying. Its pretty obvious that the master did draw from nature but just altered proportions and design choices. I believe thats what every great artist does.

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  6. #453
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonas Heirwegh View Post
    When drawing to much from memory early on you will repeat the same shapes over and over.
    This is impossible if you design your figures. Then you cannot repeat your errors because you are working scientifically.
    I'm not talking about copying anatomical plates and drawing these from memory, but about building a figure following your own design, adding to it your own understanding of the anatomy, proportions, body movements etc.
    If you draw without knowing anything about proportions, anatomy etc then you have a problem.
    But if you DO know, then it's a very very simple matter to constantly improve, all you have to do is to look at your own drawings and compare them to a better drawing and you can see what you lack.

    Is it in the understanding of perspective, the 3d feel?

    Or are your proportions messed up?

    Are you lacking anatomical knowledge?

    Is there a lack of gesture?

    Or do your rendering suck.

    Then just put your efford where it's needed.

    THIS is the method I'm suggesting, also when looking at advanced teachers/artists of today.
    If we compare the bests of today to Rubens or Michelangelo sure they fall short in many aspects, but this does not mean that they are drawing in a different system, or that it's even possible to talk about systems. Better think in terms of structuralized knowledge.
    Like I've written a couple of time - the rendering that Vilppu teaches is simply not very good compared to the russians. The same I would say about line-quality and also perspective.
    But his understanding of anatomy is very good, so is his use of gesture.

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    If you draw too much from nature, won't you ONLY be able to draw from nature? Sure it's necessary i dont think anyone can argue from that. But if most of what you draw is from nature i think you're going to turn out relying on nature and not being able to do anything else very well.

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    Also, i think it was Da Vinci that said in order to understand the whole then you must understand the parts... I think that goes to support a middle ground between these two as well. Just putting in my 2 cents.

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    I agree with sweatpea on his point. I believe in balance (i guess it might be due to my chinese culture that believe in ying/yang). So there is never one best thing or absolute method of drawing/learning. Everything should be done in moderation because like nature, everything is connected, so in learning and studying different aspect of life, we accumulate different insight into understanding nature and life, and ultimate what we want to do with our art.

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    But I would add that we should definitely do what makes us tick.
    Of course it's important to try out new things once in a while, but in general if we all find the things that really turns us on and work hard with those we can achieve so much.

    I believe that the world today is big enough for both abstract art and realism, as well as all that in between.

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    For those europeans out there looking for plastercasts I found a supplier
    http://www.statue-gipsoteca.com/
    A bit Italian speaking but I'm sure they speak english well enough to arrange shipment.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SweetPea View Post
    If you draw too much from nature, won't you ONLY be able to draw from nature? Sure it's necessary i dont think anyone can argue from that. But if most of what you draw is from nature i think you're going to turn out relying on nature and not being able to do anything else very well.

    Like Lena said, there is a difference between just copying nature without understanding and drawing from nature with a keen understanding of what your are drawing and observing.
    Thats the key to be able to draw from memory.


    Quote Originally Posted by hummel1dane View Post
    This is impossible if you design your figures. Then you cannot repeat your errors because you are working scientifically.
    I'm not talking about copying anatomical plates and drawing these from memory, but about building a figure following your own design, adding to it your own understanding of the anatomy, proportions, body movements etc.
    If you draw without knowing anything about proportions, anatomy etc then you have a problem.
    So its impossible to get repetitive shapes or figures when you draw to much from memory early on because you "design" your shapes/figures scientifically? Ask this question in the art discussion or something, I'm not even going further on this one as its getting ridiculous seriously

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonas Heirwegh View Post
    So its impossible to get repetitive shapes or figures when you draw to much from memory early on because you "design" your shapes/figures scientifically? Ask this question in the art discussion or something, I'm not even going further on this one as its getting ridiculous seriously
    No it is impossible to get repetitive shapes if you follow a logical way of working. This may require a good teacher.
    You are not actually drawing from memory, but building the figure from imagination, two very different things. That's the point of learning construction, to free your mind from repetitive thinking.
    So you can try out new things in your drawing, try and draw the bones from imagination from different angles, and then put the muscles on top, or just do the box/sphere/cylinder exercises.
    This is not repetition, the whole point of these exercises is to be able to draw the basic shapes from all angles.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hummel1dane View Post
    No it is impossible to get repetitive shapes if you follow a logical way of working. This may require a good teacher.
    You are not actually drawing from memory, but building the figure from imagination, two very different things. That's the point of learning construction, to free your mind from repetitive thinking.
    So you can try out new things in your drawing, try and draw the bones from imagination from different angles, and then put the muscles on top, or just do the box/sphere/cylinder exercises.
    This is not repetition, the whole point of these exercises is to be able to draw the basic shapes from all angles.

    Open a thread in the art discussion and ask.. You'll prolly get some good answers there that will explain why that isnt so and why you need to draw from nature alot to get away from repeating yourself.
    For now lets agree to disagree


    Ps: this thread needs more art...

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  24. #462
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    I agree that you need to draw from nature alot, as much as possible, to learn about the structure of the human body, as well as copy the sculptures and paintings of the past, renaissance and earlier.
    All I'm saying is that if you find that you are repeating yourself when drawing from imagination then you are probably doing something wrong.
    There is no need to repeat yourself when drawing from imagination. If you think in terms of basic shapes, perspective, bones and muscles, you can pretty much draw forever without repetition.

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  26. #463
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    Ps: this thread needs more art...
    Agreed !! So here goes.. Some painting i admire
    Abbott Handerson Thayer, american artist. Studied under Gerome
    Name:  Angel.jpg
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    Name:  Thayer_The_Virgin.jpg
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    Edward John Poynter, British artist who studied under Charles Gleyre, teacher of whistler, Renior and many other renown artists.
    Name:  On_the_terrace_AMK.jpg
Views: 4175
Size:  88.2 KB
    Name:  Poynter_Sir_Edward_J_Corner_Of_The_Villa.jpg
Views: 4127
Size:  325.4 KB
    Name:  Poynter_The_Cave_of_the_Storm_Nymphs.jpg
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    -JS Neo

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  28. #464
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    Thanks for uploading those
    Not very familiar with those artists, but I like all english artists very much. I think it's the atmosphere. Britain is a very special place, outside the cities..

    I mostly like renaissance stuff, just found some Hans Memling works, an artist I didn't know about untill recently. Northern early renaissance
    (1435-1494) Netherlands


    Realism vs construction(a guide to choosing the right art education)

    Realism vs construction(a guide to choosing the right art education)

    Realism vs construction(a guide to choosing the right art education)

    Then another later renaissance artist Parmegianino

    Realism vs construction(a guide to choosing the right art education)

    Realism vs construction(a guide to choosing the right art education)

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  30. #465
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    A bit too big the last one, did a resize

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  32. #466
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    And Murillo, my favorite 17th century artist

    Realism vs construction(a guide to choosing the right art education)

    Realism vs construction(a guide to choosing the right art education)

    Realism vs construction(a guide to choosing the right art education)

    Realism vs construction(a guide to choosing the right art education)

    Realism vs construction(a guide to choosing the right art education)

    Realism vs construction(a guide to choosing the right art education)

    Realism vs construction(a guide to choosing the right art education)

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  34. #467
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    thanks for the posts guys! ill try to post some of mine here tonight, and talk some about their compositions like we started to get into and id like to bring back if thats ok

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  36. #468
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    I was just wondering, is there a historical origin or reason for the rather large baby figures?

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    I was just wondering, is there a historical origin or reason for the rather large baby figures?
    I have always been curious about that fact too

    I am not in anyway expert in composition but let me give my own meager analysis of the last picture i posted, the cave of the storm nymph. I can see strong diagonals converging on the center of interest, the middle nymph. All the elements like the cave walls, the bottom nymph, the top nymph, the broken mast all points at her and there you see the ecstasy and glee at her newly stolen wealth. Amidst all the happiness, in the background, you see the tragedy that have enabled this, yet again in a strong dynamic diagonal. I can even say that the boxes are arranged in such a way as to direct our attention to the center nymph. In such a way, our attention never leave the picture but twirl around the painting looking for details and admiring his artful rendering.

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  40. #470
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    Waterhouse, psyche opening the golden box.

    Her hands encircles the box, keeps our attention.
    Also much focus on the breast, placed at the 1/3 point both horizontal and diagonal and being encircled by the arm, head, shoulder.

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    thanks for the posts hummeldane. Could u explain that first graph u have? i think ive seen it before but i dont really understand it...

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  44. #472
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    The first graph is explained very well in the book
    Classical Painting Atelier: A Contemporary Guide to Traditional Studio Practice
    I think she calls it the armature or something like that.
    It's pretty easy, just divide the picture using the diagonals and the half diagonals. Then you get a divition of 1/2, 3/3 and 4/4. You can then subdivide like this indefinitely, and put the objects that requires attention on these places.
    There is probably a lot more geometry going on at least in the old renaissance paintings, they were obsessed with it back then.
    Going even further back than the renaissance, geometry seems to have been almost the only thing that mattered to artists and designers, if interested in this kind of geometrical thinking I really suggest the books,
    The secrets of ancient geometry and it's use.
    http://www.ancientgeometry.com/BestBooksonAG.htm
    But those are insanely expansive and doesn't deal directly with painting.
    I don't know the names but I know there are some books teaching geometrical composition for painters, think Juliette Aristides mentions some in her book.
    But today I think most people design their compositions using other methods. Harold Speed has a few pages in his excellent book on drawing.

    I think Dorian also posted an excellent geometrical analysis of a raphael painting, I will try and look for it.
    Ah yes, the book "Sacred geometry" is cheap and not that big, it has some good stuff in it. Also Wikipedia has a lot of info on geometrical designs.

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  46. #473
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    Found these in one of Dorians threads,

    Realism vs construction(a guide to choosing the right art education)

    Realism vs construction(a guide to choosing the right art education)

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    Repin's Portraits

    Just want to share my admiration for Repin's skill in capturing the character and psychology of the person. I notice his superb ability to arrange the shapes in his composition to make it interesting and attractive. I am not sure how much control he has in the pose the person takes but considering he is the master portrait artist of his day, i dare say he has much say in it. So i can see the arrangement of the elements in the pictures to such as to best draw out attention to the person's face, eg the bright orange cloth behind the guy's face in the 4th picture or the super pure blue color of the lacing on the lady's dress.

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  50. #475
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    An interesting quote from "Gardner's Art Through The Ages"... thought it would be good to share here. (page 621):

    Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo disagreed (...) on the relative merits of different media. In particular, Leonardo with his intellectual and analytical mind, preferred painting to sculpture (...) In contrast, Michelangelo, who worked in a more intuitive manner, saw himself primarily as a sculptor (...)

    He [Michelangelo] mistrusted the application of mathematical methods as guarantees of beauty in proportion. Measure and proportion, he believed, should be "kept in the eyes". Biographer Vasari quotes Michelangelo as declaring that "it was necessary to have the compasses in the eyes and not in the hand, because the hand works and the eye judges." Thus, Michelangelo set aside the ancient Roman architect Vitruvius, Alberti, Leonardo, and others who tirelessly sought the perfect measure, and asserted that the artist's inspired judgment could identify other pleasing proportions.


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    FWIW, regarding the geometric analysis: I also studied with Barnstone, which is where Juliette Aristides studied and learned about geometric composition. Barnstone uses a slightly different armature which I think works better. I find that using divisions such as 1/2s, 1/3s, 1/4s etc. is a tad formulaic. (I dislike things such as the "rule of thirds", because of its formulaic nature, but I am greatly interested in geometric composition). The way I was taught was to take diagonals from the four corners and intersect them with the principle diagonals at 90 degrees. This creates what is called a "gnomon" and generates an infinite series of rectangles and divisions that relate to the mother rectangle. However, the divisions created by that 90 degree intersection are not necessarily at such obvious places as 1/3s or 1/4s.

    "Contrary to the belief of the layman, the essential of art is not to imitate nature, but under the guise of imitation to stir up excitement with pure plastic elements: measurements, directions, ornaments, lights, values, colors, substances, divided and organized according to the injunctions of natural laws. While so occupied, the artist never ceases to be subservient to nature, but instead of imitating the incidents in a paltry way, he imitates the laws."-Andre Lhote

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    dvd 10

    hummel1dane: I think you'd be pretty interested in watching the Barnstone Dvd's his analyzations of masterworks are enlightening. I hear His book is due out sometime in the near future... but haven't heard a ship date yet.

    I'm hoping that there will be a large chapter or chapters on these sacred geometries.

    Maidith:Michelangelo may have stated he mistrusted the application of mathematical methods ( I wasn't there) but he sure did use the hell out of them on the Sistine Chapel

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  56. #478
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    It doesn't seem like Michelangelo was the most honest person. We have more proofs of his dishonesty than his honesty. He absolutely denied his early training in Ghirlandaio's workshop, ordered all his sketches burned, and worked hard to preserve his nickname "il Divino" - the divine.
    To be honest, the more I read about him, the less I trust him.

    It is very interesting what Vasari writes. I seriously would doubt it though, Michelangelo as a neoplatonic would have a firm base in math and geometry, also considering his time spent both with Ghirlandaio as well as with all the other clever heads of the renaissance(when he stayed in the court of Lorenzo de Medici).
    He knew his stuff. But of course it's likely that later in life he just achieved a level where he didn't need to rely that heavily on mathematical thinking.
    But even then he still had to calculate the perspective distortions in the sistine cealing, or his assistants would have to do it for him.
    The same distortion in his sculptures.
    And he ALSO had to calculate the light and shade in his sculptures considering their location - how is that possible to do without using the perspective of cast shadows??
    And what about the weight in a sculpture? Could he just feel how heavy an arm could be without it falling of?
    And his serious copying of Greek sculptures, deriving his style from them.
    I'm not convinced. To me it seems much more likely that he simply boasted in order to build his reputation as "Il Divino"

    I think in the beginning of his biography Vasari writes that Michelangelo actually was divine, created by GOD with the purpose of raising the standards of art.
    It's pretty far out and should be read with a very critical mind to say the least.
    Michelangelo = the jesus of art. Lol.

    About Leonardo, to say that Leonardo didn't work intuitively, he worked as much intuitively as mathematically. Actually the math of his time wasn't very developed, so a lot of his inventions had to be created with a strong intuition. More trial and error than theory.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jpacer View Post
    FWIW, regarding the geometric analysis: I also studied with Barnstone, which is where Juliette Aristides studied and learned about geometric composition. Barnstone uses a slightly different armature which I think works better. I find that using divisions such as 1/2s, 1/3s, 1/4s etc. is a tad formulaic. (I dislike things such as the "rule of thirds", because of its formulaic nature, but I am greatly interested in geometric composition). The way I was taught was to take diagonals from the four corners and intersect them with the principle diagonals at 90 degrees. This creates what is called a "gnomon" and generates an infinite series of rectangles and divisions that relate to the mother rectangle. However, the divisions created by that 90 degree intersection are not necessarily at such obvious places as 1/3s or 1/4s.
    That's interesting.
    But even with the classical or simple armature you can still just subdivide it.
    Take a look at these images from
    http://www.ancientgeometry.com/BestBooksonAG.htm
    I think this method would be the predecessor to the simple armature. The difference would be the armature based on the square and the special divisions this enables vs the armature based on the rectangle.
    For some reason the author didn't do any analysis of gothic paintings, would be interesting to see if his theory would fit those.

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    I hope this doesn't tick anyone off, but for kicks I thought I'd do an analysis of the Waterhouse using the geometric armature the way I was taught. I just thought you might be interested in seeing it employed in a different way.

    Like I said, the way I was taught was to take diagonals from the four corners and intersect them with the principle diagonals at 90 degrees. These reciprocal diagonals create new rectangles that differ in size and orientation, but are the same proportion to the mother. I think the Waterhouse is in a Phi rectangle, more or less. This is what the armature looks like. (BLACK = Armature, RED = Rebated Square, GREEN = crossing lines) The divisions you get are not the same as if you just subdivide the rectangle using diagonals and midpoints.

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    However, I don't think that it is solely this geometry that he is using. In another thread way back when I explained the relationship between the Phi rectangle and the Root 5 rectangle. One can find two overlapped Root 5 rectangles in a Phi. Here I've shown the basic armature of the two root 5s. The armature created by the 90 degree intersection between the main diagonal and it's reciprocal divides each Root 5 into 5 smaller Root 5s. It appears to me that Waterhouse has used the diagonals and reciprocal diagonals of the root 5 as the basis for the parallel directional movements of the figure. (BLUE Lines = Root 5s) In fact, (aside from a few verticals and horizontals) diagonals which are parallel to the diagonals and reciprocals from the Phi and Root 5 are the only major directions in the figure.

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    Anywhere that two lines intersect one can drop a vertical or horizontal or diagonal that connects two points. Here I've shown that by simply connecting points one quickly finds the figured locked in. Interesting to note that the lines of the girls arms all radiate from a single point. This radiating movement of "fanning out" or "opening up" works well with the notion of opening a box. But, that's total speculation and madness on my part.

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    I also did a quick analysis of the Raphael shown above, because I'm not sure I agree with that analysis. I didn't like how one is forced to stretch out that rectangle in order to make the logarithmic spiral conform. Granted that does happen, where a designer will use points outside of the frame, but something just didn't seem right to me. I'm not saying that my analysis is any more correct either. I did this quickly. I just wanted to see if there was a simpler solution. I determined that Raphael is also using overlapped Root 5s. This time they're overlapped on that point of 90 degree intersection. I didn't break down the full grid, as I was more interested in finding the source of the sweeping movements, but it does seem as if I located the base for the triangular enclosures of the figures and cherubs. It also seems as if he is utilizing the diagonals and reciprocals of the Root 5.

    But, as far as the sweeping movements go I think I've found the source. Rather than use the spiral I think he's used a series of concentric circles. I located on the grid 4 center points for these circles (I marked these with squiggles). Photoshop's "ellipse tool" makes it incredibly easy to find such things. I separated the grid and circles analysis just in the interest of clarity. When I had everything on one plate I thought it might be too confusing to see. It still may be too confusing. I think may have shown too many circles to the point of becoming overwhelming. Anyway, that's what I found, for good or ill, and in case anyone's still wondering, yes, i am crazy.

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    Last edited by jpacer; March 1st, 2010 at 03:30 PM.
    "Contrary to the belief of the layman, the essential of art is not to imitate nature, but under the guise of imitation to stir up excitement with pure plastic elements: measurements, directions, ornaments, lights, values, colors, substances, divided and organized according to the injunctions of natural laws. While so occupied, the artist never ceases to be subservient to nature, but instead of imitating the incidents in a paltry way, he imitates the laws."-Andre Lhote

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