|Diane St.- Georges|
On Saturday I attended a workshop organized by the Hudson Artists, taught by Diane St-Georges of Valleyfield. Diane, a member of the Society of Canadian Artists, works in acrylic, watercolour and collage, often with Amerindian themes. Diane's classes include image transfer, stamp-making, collage, and the principles of good design. An example of her work is shown, below left.
Our Text'art group engaged Diane to do a critique session perhaps three years ago. I found her guidelines to good composition so valuable that I still refer to them when evaluating my own work.
Rule #1. All the corners of the work should be different.
Rule #2. No major shape or line should follow the midlines (horizontal and vertical) of the piece.
Rule #3. A focal point should be created with contrast of value, colour, or shape. The best place for the focal point may be found by using the "rule of thirds". If you imagine two lines drawn vertically that divide the width of the piece into thirds, and two lines drawn horizontally to divide the height of the piece into thirds, then place your focal point at the intersection of two of those lines.
Rule #4. One colour should dominate. If you use two or three colours, one of them should clearly dominate the other(s).
Rule #5. Avoid having a major line or shape lead the eye out of the piece, especially at a corner.
Rule #6. Have a variety of scale. Include large, medium and small shapes. Likewise, look at where your shapes and lines intersect with the edges of the piece. The spaces created should vary in size.
At the workshop, Diane asked us to take a large sheet of watercolour paper and divide it with masking tape into eight equal sized rectangles. We were then instructed to use a large brush and apply swaths of water blindly to the paper, without completely covering the whole, ignoring the masking tape divisions. Then, again blindly, to apply broad strokes of two colours to the whole. Next, to use an aquarelle crayon to blindly scribble over the whole. We removed the tape and looked at how each of the eight rectangles could be used as a base for a composition. Stamping, collage, and more painting followed to introduce more elements. We used paraffin to create a resist to the paint, and alcohol sprayed on to add texture. Throughout, we were to consider the basic rules of design.
The workshop was fun and a great reminder about the principles of good design. It was a pleasure to work again with the techniques I so enjoyed while developing my Tuscany series, some three years ago.