Showing posts from August, 2017

Caspar David Friedrich's Unity of Thought and Vision

Looking at Caspar David Friedrich's paintings I am awed by his ability to embody abstract thought in a visual expression. In  The Stages of Life  Friedrich contemplates how human beings can mentally project the course of our lives in the form of the concepts of "future" and "distance." In order to embody these concepts visually, he integrates them with the physical attributes of distance: the diminution of size and fading away of detail. In contrast to the detailed description and dark tonality of the foreground, Friedrich's ships sink away into a dreamy atmosphere of orange and blue. To integrate his projection of distance with its thematic meaning, Friedrich devised the method of echoing the arc created by the overall grouping of the ship's masts with the arced shape of the group of figures in the foreground. By presenting these characters at different ages Friedrich is telling the viewer outright that his projection of ships into the distance is

Also, this

This is a composition I am working on. Most of this was done digitally, though this is a plan for an oil painting. As is clear from the image, I am working on an irregularly shaped canvas. I am experimenting with several things stylistically, and this is quite an unusual composition for me. I have never presented the natural world as being so forceful and violent, but the the painting is intended as a depiction of courage and so I want the environment to be as formidable as the woman. All of my paintings are centered around the "heroic human figure," but I don't think I have ever come this far before in depicting the strength of a character.

On a Sailing Ship by Caspar David Friedrich

I would like to write about a painting that I have been contemplating, Caspar David Friedrich's On a Sailing Ship . A man and woman sit aboard a boat in a dark ocean headed toward land. The porcelain colored city in the distance is bathed in a soft light. It is close enough to be real to them, but distant enough for the atmosphere to make it dreamy and insubstantial.           Look at how the man's jacket ripples as though he were a continuation of the sea. To his darkness (tonally and metaphorically), the woman is the light. He is one with the dark forbidding sea; she, her dress the color of clay, represents land and home and safety on a solid earth.   She is perched up hopefully. The man, with slumped but straightening shoulders, looks up at land with similar longing, but as though as at a hope that is less real to him. This dynamic between the characters tells us that she is the greater moral strength between the two. The fact that she is in the light while the man