some red, violet and green inside the edges

red-flowers-compotier-2

If you study Bonnard a lot, inevitably you will begin to notice the edges.  Perhaps someday you even live in the edges (I don’t know yet about that).  While many artists advise students to choose a “center of interest” old Bonnard taught his fans to seek the periphery and now I include things in the picture that can never be identified.  For instance, there’s a black vase to the right of the blue compotier.  I’ve drawn the black vase before (as below).  It’s covered with the most beautiful designs.  Sitting next to the compotier, its surface wasn’t even black but instead reflects the red of the background cloth and also reflects — in a marvelous way — a convex image of the seashell sitting next to it.

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All that fell outside the range of my picture, but I was so aware of it.  (I suppose I’ll have to do another picture sometime of these other things.) But at the right-hand edge of the new picture at the top, there’s a dark curvilinear shape touching the compotier and it depicts the edge of that black vase.  So that really makes no sense, does it?  But Old Man Bonnard told me not to fret about what makes sense.  He said this is a nice trail to follow, but you have to travel a long ways down its route before you come to the really neat stuff.

I’m taking him at his word.

And once you discover the edges, you’ll have a whole new appreciation for the stuff inside the edges too, he said …

Above: pastel on UArt 500 grit paper glued to board, 18 x 24 inches; below: watercolor

the periphery of interest

Contrary to the center of interest is the periphery of interest.

detail potatoes

I was reading a list of forms of cognitive bias and ANCHORING caught my attention. I found it defined as “the common human tendency to rely too heavily on the first piece of information offered.” It hinders decision making — and hence invention — by getting a person stuck at square one.

In art, it’s certainly true, that the artist who is too focused on the “center of interest” (or as I like to call it the “nexus of focal attention” or the “convergence of visual acuity” or the “intersection of visual collision” or sometimes as simply “the point of no return”) —  as I was saying: such an artist might fail to see the forest because of the humongous big tree blocking his view when his whole face is covered with its leaves.

koi-swimming-above-the-trees

I realize I’m babbling — maybe ranting — but I did say that I was turning my blog into a sort of diary.  And in a “It’s My Party and I’ll Cry If I Want to” sort of way, I permit myself an occasional rant from time to time.

I don’t like the concept of “a center of interest.”  Does it show? I file it under cognitive bias. I’m glad to see it has a name, anchoring.

The cure is to get the attention moving around again. I like natural attention, myself, that’s my personal preference. Letting your mind move around, willy nilly, as its wont. But if one’s brain has gotten sucked into the vortex, whether that vortex is at the center or somewhere else in the picture, the cure for the bias is to fasten the attention somewhere else. You’ve got to move it around — diffuse it somewhat,  forcibly, if need be.

lizard

In my notes, I envisioned a grid — a desperate grid for the really hard cases — and inside each square of the grid you examine that portion of the picture to see what beauties it holds. And no I don’t stop there.

grill-detail

Then you shift the grid a little and you have new passages, and you gaze into those also. And thus the whole image is like a matrix with many doors. Such a picture (obviously this represents an ideal) is like a shimmering tapestry of decisions and observations.

In ordinary time, the simple habit of following your thoughts in the order in which they occur is good enough at last — as a remedy against art books that posit all kinds of rules, the most insidious of which is the center of interest.

red-eyed-cicada

I give it other names to diminish its charm. If we call the nexus of focal obsession by its other names — such as, the vortex of visual obsequiousness, then we avoid its becoming stronger by means of the “availability cascade,” the tendency of oft-repeated messages to be accepted as true simply because they are oft repeated.

So, pst!   Ipsnay the enter-cay of interest-yay.

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