Learn to Draw > Color composition techniques
Apart from the fact that it is of no importance anyway, no one can state afterwards why and on what basis an artist suddenly felt impelled to alter his conception. A correction is unlikely to spring so much from pondering as from the artist's sensibility. Painters and sculptors, if they are worthy of the name, do not think; they see and feel, just
as a poet hears and feels what he writes, and as he goes by sound and not grammar.
Turn back if you will to the detail from the Michelangelo fresco. Art critics will be ready with cogent explanations as to why Michelangelo colored over the marked contour, which he had drawn in so vigorously on the
cartoon. But I feel certain that if he had altered nothing, the same critics would explain why not with no less cogency.
With this in mind you will know better than to regard the following analyses of two compositions as infallible. We are groping after the truth, not expounding
One thing is certain, however, and this is that the usual test, which is to try to convey a surface composition by means of schematic lines, is preposterous. Movement can never be interpreted as line, but only as surface area, and even direction lines describe a path of vision rather than a line of
vision. Add color, and the design will be composed mainly of colored areas, which it is quite absurd to express in terms of lines. Lines used to analyse a color composition can only be regarded as a plan, a framework or pointer to indicate the general trend or feeling of movement.
The two pictures on the pages that follow are placed side by side because both have the horse as their ostensible subject. Their artistic aims are otherwise quite dissimilar. The picture
by Marc is a well-balanced, selective composition, which leans heavily on the picture's boundaries.
These boundaries can neither be contracted nor enlarged without significantly altering the true sense of the picture, which hinges on the three horses. They are intercepted in the course of motion; and taken on its own, the scene is like a high-speed
This motion, as it were, frozen, is stretched across a network of horizontal and vertical lines, facing left, and is emphasized by a triangular link between the focal points of the picture, that is, between the three heads. The marked bias of this network in a leftwards, downwards direction
is taken up by a set of lines leading downwards to the right, but this is revealed only on closer study.
The result is a returning sense of repose and delightful harmony. These lines weave the animals and the landscape into a whole. The diagram shows that the true motif of the picture is a series of
planes which whirl around, wind about, and finally settle as they were. The three horses are treated as a whole, and the potentially unwelcome effect of frozen movement is thus offset.
The color likewise brings out the motif. An intense red impels the scene forward, and the violet of the middle horse is
seen as a connecting shade of red. This is the keynote which shines brightly and is everywhere repeated, both in the foreground and in the background. The yellows and blues produce the same effect, and as a result a web of colors may be discerned in addition to a web of lines. The green is the only color to appear in the background and nowhere else, but in this way it impels the main motif
forwards, but this again is modified by the clear blue with its warmer effect.
Although the picture is exceptionally gaily colored, it is seen at first glance as a colored fabric, a gay material. Closer inspection brings out its amazing vitality.
Whereas Marc applied his colors in thin coats, and exploited to the full their chromatic potentialities, Reuther used the palette knife to produce a porous effect. He does not treat his colors as "absolute" and costly paint to be carefully husbanded, but as a palpable material, reminiscent of a granular whirl of lines on a dark