Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Second Round: Its All About Composition

Surfin' California Birdhouse by KrugsStudio
I remember reading as a teenager that the great Tchaikovsky was commissioned to write his two great ballets "Swan Lake" and "The Nutcracker" by the great Russian ballet director Ivan Vsevolozhsky. Being the artist that he was, he chaffed at the details of what he had to write. While "Swan Lake" was completely written under this tight regimen, after about half of "The Nutcracker" was written to tight control until he complained about how many bars for this dance or that so the reigns were loosened. Some say for the worse.

The point is, sometimes we create our greatest works when there are limits. The world's greatest, well ALL, architecture has limits. Architects usually have time, money, and space constraints and struggle to make the greatest statement with what they had. Think of these iconic buildings and you will know what I mean: The Eiffel Tower, The Parthenon, The Great Pyramids, The Great Wall of China, Hoover Dam, the old and new Trade Towers, the Golden Gate Bridge, all iconic in their designs yet serving their functions extremely well.

California Dreamin' Birdhouse by KrugsStudio
I completed my second version of my first birdhouse commission yesterday and sent photos of both versions to the client. While I envisioned California on the first, rectangle birdhouse, it was the second attempt using many of the same elements on a round version that it came together. As I worked on it, I thought about Monet and his many versions of waterlilies. There is nothing more pleasing and soothing than being at the Met and seeing his nearly 180ยบ painting of his beloved waterlilies. Any single part of it leaves you breathless and taken as a whole, stunned. How could he have captured this and not only this but the many variations before and after? Is it man's nature to continue to try and hopefully improve? Do we restrict ourselves when we try just one version of something? How many more possibilities are there out there?

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art had a wonderful retrospective on the work of Ansel Adams years ago. One room was devoted to nothing but possibly his greatest photograph, "Moonrise Over Hernandez, New Mexico." I had a chance once to buy a print signed by him for $500 but we were a new family and that money was needed elsewhere. I learned later that after he died, similar prints were now worth over $10,000. We can always remember I guess what could have been and just move on.

Since visiting the site of the photograph, not changed much in the 30 or so years that intervened, I was always drawn to the Adams photograph. He captured both the desolation and the eerie beauty of the place. However, what fascinated me was that from that very first photograph he never stopped improving it. As you circled the room you saw the evolution of the photograph until you see what is the definitive version we see today. It took many years and many prints but finally he achieved what he saw in his minds eye. The image that blew me away though was the 4 ft. x 5 ft. print of what was pretty much his final version. If there was ever a lesson in never giving up, Adams had shown, at least me, the way.

As you can see clearly here, the composition on both birdhouses is pretty much the same. However, and its a big difference, is that the composition "feels" different on the two different surfaces. While the square birdhouse has wonderful, almost seamless transitions from side to side, the design really flows on the round surface. There is no corner, no sudden stop in the design and as you turn it, you easily move from one idea to another. Before you know it, you are back at the beginning.

Is one better than the other? It depends. The client picked the round version. I agreed. They are both interesting in their own ways but the client had a vision in his mind and as I continued to develop the concept I found that I agreed with him as well. I urge everyone to not try just one but several. It may seem boring, but as I learned early on and am forcing myself to learn again, there IS much to be learned the second and third time around.

Visit KrugsStudio.etsy.com to see more photos of the CALIFORNIA DREAMIN' BIRDHOUSE and many other wonderful and definitely unique crafts and fine art!

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