Visual Discoursing (Part 2)

The frame and the edges

All photographic images have edges that define the limits of their subject and significant context, in as legible and esthetic manner as possible … we usually refer implicitly to this process when we talk about framing the image through the view finder.

When we interpret one’s own photographs in another graphic medium, such as painting or collage, the need to underscore graphically the edges may emerge from their role as structuring element of the interpretative composition.

In the first two cases, discussed below, the effectiveness of the interpretation rests in good part on the  way it has been graphically framed: the red square frame being used to make the field of colors hold together, while the circular black frame is used to evoke the visual field limits of a telescoping field glass.

In the third case, the freehand nature of the sketch, involving a direct and particular visual discoursing with the subject, required no such edge or limit marking.


Holding a field of colors

In the photograph shown below the natural elements of the tree and its shadow are the unifying context for the graphic man-made elements of sidewalk and driveway delimiting post.

The way the collage interprets this complementarity is by structuring a field of colors around two opposing sets of curves representing natural vs man-made joined by the black representation of the pole.

The need to counter the visual bleeding at the edges of the composition required of these to be treated as a visual counterpoint to the strong yellow and black core … hence the red frame.

Tree and its shadow
abstracted tree and shadow


Centering a field of colors

In the very middle of the photograph one can distinguish the light blue base  of a planter, topped by a bright red geranium that was unfortunately hidden by the growth of tree foliage by the time I took the photograph.

I did use the red spot however because it was the eye catcher that made the subject interesting and which I kept as the visual center of the interpretative sketch.

Since the geometric figure of the circle holds a privileged structuring relation to its center I opted for a circular black edge to frame the sketch, in the same fashion that a distant subject can be framed within the visual field of a telescoping field glass.

hidden geranium planter


recovered geranium through telescoping field glass


Freeing the sketch

I have opted to focus on the freehand nature of the line drawing sketch, treating it visually like a written note jotted in a sketchbook.

As such a sketch is an exercise in visual representation of the idea of a subject  in the most economic and expressive way, with no pretense of displaying an esthetic finishing touch.

The photograph is really an afterthought to set the scene of what I see when seated on my balcony, and what I chose from it to sketch in pen and ink.

If anything, or anyone, is perceptually “framed,” it is the eye-hand relation of the sketcher, and the eye-mind relation of the viewer.

For the former it is a matter of producing an expressive formal pattern and for the latter a matter of recognizing it.

neighboring tree


tree and handrail


End words

For quite some time to come my exterior explorations will be limited to my street, bloc, immediate neighborhood and to walks in the larger public parks of the city.

The nature of my posts will reflect this limitation while trying to remain within the scope of the “conversation on the creative landscape.”



 All sketches and photographs to Maurice Amiel

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