Artistic Lines from Joan Justis April 2016

Artistic Lines

from Joan Justis

April 2016

Paintings have a way in and a way out. When you look at a painting, you are entering it’s space. The artist invites you in with a line, a vibrant color, a spot of light, a bull’s eye—something that draws your instant attention. Once he has you, he uses shapes and lines to conduct you around the image. He will even block your departure.

Square design made with crossing rows of small yellow, blue and red squares

Piet Mondrian Broadway Boogie-Woogie, 1942-43

I enter this painting on the red rectangle and move around to look at the other large rectangles, but it is hard to get out of the painting. You have to finally force yourself to stop looking at it.

Woman asleep curled on a chair in a flowing orange gown I

I enter this on the highlighted orange thigh, but you may enter it on the face. Note how the face is a bull’s eye surrounded by curved arms and flowing hair. Your eye keeps moving around this beautiful image exploring all the different shapes of fabric. Her foot would carry you out of the painting, but the toes are bent directing you back into the circle. And look how interesting the bottom half of the picture is because of the left foot catching the fabric. The flowers on the mantel prevent you from heading out of the painting on the mantel’s horizontal line.  This painting is Flaming June by Lord Frederic Leighton 1895.

Painting of woman pouring milk from a pitcher in a Dutch kitchen
One of Vermeer’s favorite tricks is to block your entry into the painting so that you feel like you are looking into an intimate space and invading a private moment. He does this with a piece of furniture, a tablecloth, or a tapestry.  The Milkmaid by Johannes Vermeer 1658-1661

Painting of a garden on the corner of a street with the house in the background

I always like to leave an opening in my paintings-a door, a window, a sunlit space, a distant horizon. Then you can walk into the image and through it tantalized by what might be beyond.  Corner Garden, oil on canvas,12″ x 20″ by Joan Justis

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