Patterns in Paintings

After reviewing the works of Morris Hirshfield I returned to some earlier thoughts I had on Patterns which remained unpublished on the Blog though we have looked at patterns in nature and patterns in buildings in earlier blogs.

This Blog is especially directed at those of you who are learning to paint though hopefully everyone will gain something from the content.

A little while ago Chris of New York posted on Facebook a painting by the naive Italian artist Antonio Libague (1899–1965). We took a look at Libague’s works a while back in an earlier blog. What I noticed this time when I studied Daini con paesaggio were the patterns Antonio has created.
So today's blog is about *Patterns in Paintings. The spots in the deer are obvious but notice this is repeated in the stones in larger shapes under the animal hoofs. And the clouds are also this same basic shape but larger still. These round shapes establish the harmony or the rhythm of the image. The contrasting crisscross lines of the foliage add the dynamic element and also help create movement to support the startled posture of the deer.

If we study Caccia al Cinghiale carefully you will see that Libague has grouped the packs of animals in such a way as to form patterns. Sorry, I know its an awful theme but an interesting painting nevertheless. Again he has the sharp needle like fronds at the centre of the action and the softer more circular pattern of the leaves in the trees further away.
And in Leopard attacked by a Snake the patterns in the animal coverings help distguish the leopard from the snake. And once more the plants closest to the action have the sharp shape.

Now looking at a couple of my paintings. I love painting bricks as I have confessed on other occasions. In Windows on a Time; Two notice how I have created patterns with the bricks and stone flooring. I have also made a feature of the pattern in the decaying plaster on the wall. Imagine what this painting would look like without the details in the patterns. Very uninteresting in my opinion.
Patterns in bricks and paving also feature in Tuscan Steps which again would be uninteresting without the paving stones.
And in Italian Village I have extended the patterns to the rooftops and countryside beyond where the vines and cypresses make for an excellent tapestry of shapes. In my mind, patterns not only add interest, they help give a painting continuity.

Patterns are particularly important in the works of naive artists such as Antonio Libague and as we saw yesterday in the works created by Morris Hirshfield. Look at how Neadeen Masters has used the repetition of the pattern of the lavender to create Lavender Morning. And look at how distinct she has made each of the areas of pattern almost like the pieces in a quilt.

The American artist Emmy Lou Packard (1914-1998) relied heavily on patterns to create her incredible paintings which I find particularly appealing.

Emmy Lou Packard also known as Betty Lou Packard was a Californian post-war artist known for painting, printmaking and murals. One of my favourite works by her is this one. At first glance you see the patterns made by the boxes of fruit and vegetables. Then look a little more carefully and you will discern the figure of the man. I love it. Packard's father founded an agricultural cooperative community in the Imperial Valley, California and was an internationally known agronomist. Look at this wonderful landscape Emmy Lou has created and note the patterns delineating each feature. When Emmy was 13 years old in 1927, the Packard family travelled to Mexico as her father was working with the Mexican government on agrarian and land settlement reform issues. Emmy was already painting and drawing and her mother introduced her to artists Frida Kahlo and her husband the muralist Diego Rivera. In this painting of Farmers you can see how Emmy Packard has used the figures of the people to make a pattern of labour.
And again in this silk screen titled Merry Go Round the figures form the dominant pattern in the image. Note also the way she has created the birds in the sky.

In 1936 Packard graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with her bachelor's degree and later studied sculpture, mural and fresco painting at the San Francisco Art Institute. In 1939 Emmy Lou Packard went to live with Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo following the death of her husband Burton Cairns in a car accident. She worked as their studio assistant. (Wikipedia)

When Diego Rivera painted the Pan American Unity mural for the Golden Gate International Exposition, *Emmy Lou Packard was his assistant. You will see the mural soon when we look the work of Rivera but below you can see the part when he has painted Emmy into the mural behind her easel.

As I'm sure you are aware, I try to link the information in one blog to the next. I have also commented on how often I find an unusual fact about an artist or a painting which links to someone else. I love to discover these surprising gems. When I was researching Grandma Moses I discovered two other artists who were part of the Unknown exhibition conducted by the Museum of Modern Art, New York. I have introduced you to one- Morris Hirshfield. The other Unknown was Byron Randall whom I was going to do next after Hirshfield but got caught up in wanting to say something about patterns in paintings. I had saved the works of Emmy Lou Parkard for this blog as I knew she used patterns extensively in some of her paintings. Guess who she married in 1959? Yes- Byron Randall was Emmy Lou's second husband. What a great segue to him. However I was also saving Emmy Lou for a different reason. Her personal family friend and mentor was the famous Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. Now I don't know who to look at next!

I'm going to have a day off to think about all of this and to watch TV as I believe there is a significant wedding happening this week. I think I might have to draw the happy couple!

Anne Newman

Oil Painter in realistic genre style, predominantly buildings and people. To continue the discussion contact Anne on anewman@netspace.net.au or phone +61 407 516 522

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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