Lesson 12 – Composition

The next lesson in the Tate Watercolour Manual, Lessons from the Great Masters by Tony Smibert and Joyce Townsend, the book I am studying, addresses composition. The authors chose to feature the work of Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot to demonstrate balance of design.

The art historian Ernst Gombrich notes (The Story of Art) that Corot strived for ‘clarity and balance’ using his palette. Smibert and Townsend (Tate Watercolor Manual) agree, but reference the spatial design, noting that the balance in some of his compositions are equivalent to the balance one sees in the Yin Yang symbol of Taoism.

Today’s warmup exercise:

I prepared my watercolor chart with four panels, as usual and arranged the composition in each with the concept of ‘balance’ in mind. The ‘S’ shape of the Yin-Yang symbol can be superimposed on the designs in each panel. Panel 1, at the upper left should have more open spaces within the blots on the right-hand side of the composition to achieve a balance. I tried correcting this in the other panels.

Watercolor Chart: Four Small Compositions Inspired by Corot

Warmup – Four Compositions, ala Jean-Baptiste Corot

I have decided that the ‘fan’ brush is my best friend for making tree-like blots. I am merciless with it, scrunching and crushing it into the paper. On the other hand, the round brushes I use do not serve me as well. I am not certain if this is due to the pigment I use (sepia, in this case), the amount of water in the pigment, or the quality of the brush I use (synthetic).  More experimentation is in order.

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