Here is a photograph of Georgia O'Keefe. Today we take photographs and for everyone that we take, we throw many, many away. We do recognize the good ones, don't we? So you can already say that you recognize good design! We just don't know why we recognize good design.
Before photography, everyone knew how to draw. They received instruction in composition, color theory and perspective, so when they were on vacation they could record what they saw by drawings and watercolor paintings. This way they could show all their friends what they saw as we do with photos today.
In Classical art, abstract lines have meanings all by themselves and set the stage for every artwork. Here we have the horizontal line in the landscape. These lines produce a calm and peaceful feeling as all lines relate to our human experience. How many people do you know who love to just sit on the beach and say how peaceful it feels?
Why? Because every everything we feel relates to the human condition. And we react to great paintings for the same reason. We make a horizontal line as we lay down for sleep just like the horizon in a beach-ocean scene? Everything relates to us.
The Portrait - A Vertical line. This is Peter Paul Rubens and he was a very 'upright man'. We tell someone, "Give me a straight answer!" The vertical line has power and we pay attention to it.
What we see and feel when looking at artworks depends on what we experience in our world. It will be hard to make a gloomy picture using the color yellow. Our experience tells us that when the sun comes out we are the happiest!
Because of our own experiences, it will be hard to make us feel happy looking at a picture of a gloomy day with grey clouds.
Again, because of our own experiences, our smile turns upward, our shoulders pull back and our arms go up to greet our favorite people in our lives. Upward curved lines are happy lines all by themselves!
And when we are sad, our smile turns upside down, our shoulders slump, our head hangs and we show the downward curved abstract lines. So when you are looking at a drawing or painting that makes you feel sad or depressed, look for the abstract downward curved lines and you will start to understand more about why the picture is affecting you.
We know he could draw! And not just represent but actually design. Follow the curve of the horns of tallest animal on the left and see how it continues to curve into the neck of the lower animal. Look at the curves of the belly, the hind quarters, even the curve of the legs and how the horns of the lower animal playfully interact with the horns of the taller animal.
Where did he learn this? Historians believe that the ancients sought out order when things got out of hand just like we do. Imagine, without understanding when a tsunami came barreling down at them how frightening that was. Imagine the thunder blasting in the sky, a snow storm that never ended or flood that wipes out everything. It must have been terrifying.
The ancients thought their gods were angry at them when these things happened so they sought out order in their world trying to please their gods. How were they to please them. They looked at nature which was designed so perfectly and they found consistent designs that nature used for its own purposes and tried to repeat them to appease their gods. And, in the process they learned how nature used these designs and applied them to their life.
When we want to be exact in a measurement, we get a ruler or a measuring tape. We can guess! We can be pretty close but if we want it to be as perfect as we can get it, we measure. In Classical Art, the art of the Renaissance, they also had a way to make their drawings and paintings as perfect as they by using what is called the Root Rectangles and the Golden Section. There are various rectangles but we will start with a Root 2.
Draw a square. Take the diagonal and drop it down. Extend your bottom line of the square and make a new rectangle. This is now your Root 2 rectangle. Next we will make what is called the armature of the rectangle.
Turning the above Rt. 2 on it's end, you can use this for a portrait. If you kept it on its side, you could use it for a landscape.
Draw crossing lines in your Rt. 2 rectangle and draw a right angle to one of the crossing lines. Where the right angle hits the side of the rectangle, draw a line horizontally across the rectangle which divides it into two horizontal Rt. 2's.
All rectangles can be formed in this way, even an arbitrary size rectangle. All start with crossing lines and the right angle to them which divides them up into smaller rectangles which are in proportion to the beginning one.
With your two horizontal rectangles that were made when you used a right angle to the crossing line above, continue to put the crossing lines in these two horizontal smaller rectangles. As you put the right angle to these crossing lines, notice that they now divide the horizontal rectangles into 4 vertical rectangles, each keeping the same proportions of the original rectangle. This can go on and on, forming new smaller rectangles, helping you to use these directional lines incorporating their directions into the drawing that you are producing. It is the power of limits that makes a strong drawing, not using the 360 angles and directions of lines that can be used. Picking 5 or 6 directions, using radiating lines coming from one spot on your picture can make your picture stronger. Adding curved lines which flow into and onto these straight lines forms a visual moving pattern that the eye loves to look at.
Now look at the picture below using this limited armature of a Rt. 2 and see how it is used on the picture of "All Dressed Up' below.
The first crossing line of the large rectangle hits the end of her hat on the right side. Going down it also crosses her sleeve of her dress. The right angle to one of the first crossing lines of the large rectangle goes across her eye and focuses everyone who looks at it to look at her big eyes. One of the crossing lines goes across her left hand and her fingers being curved leads the eye back up to her face.
Notice where these lines hit on her dress and hat and how the background tree/bush mimics the small crossing line. I will diagram it out further as we go on.