" A Lot To A Little"
I ask the students to select one subject that will be painted 4 times. Each creation will have 1 element imposed on the subject. I have found that this one exercise covers most of what painters need to know about design. Design is a rather simple concept conceived by painters and teachers in an attempt to clarify how artist arrange shapes and colors to please the viewers eyes and deliver the ideas of their mind. Over the years, whatever that means, the teaching of design has become so complicated that is no longer helps as much as it hurts. The elements of art are: lines, colors, shapes, textures, size and direction. By choosing one of the substructures of anyone of these elements and making that selection dominate the image we CREATE art rather than imitate reality. Here is the example I did for my last workshop.
These 4 examples are painted on an imperial size sheet of Kilimanjaro 22" x 30" that is divided into quarters using 1 1/2 inch Ace hardware masking tape. The subject is the Catskill mountain range. These are all the same subject selecting different distances from the subject and featuring different areas of emphasis. For no. 1 (top left) I chose to feature the color orange with many variations as the dominant "lot". The orange is 80% of this image. No. 2 (top right) is 80% dark values. The whole point of this experiment is to observe how changing the dominant color, value, texture, etc. changes the feeling of the subject. No. 3 is dominantly light in value made with an abundance of white paint. In No. 4 I selected a dominance of smooth surfaces broken up by areas of rough texture. In each example there is the "little" that change in value, color, texture that is a counterpoint to the dominant element. Creating anything requires that you impose something beyond just reporting visual facts. So, if you are to be a creative artist start creating and with this simple approach you can.