Details of the Painting:

Alley by the Lake is an acrylic painting by Leonid Afremov. The original art work was made entirely of natural oil paint on a 100% pure cotton canvas measuring 24"x36" x 3/4". It was first painted in 2007 by the artist using only a palette-knife (as opposed to a brush) and was estimated to be $1,150 in value. The artwork was sold on April 17, 2009 for $2,235 and is no longer available on the market.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Alley by the Lake by Leonid Afremov

(click image for larger view)

Critical Thinking

"Interpreting art is like interpreting a story" - Anonymous

Critical Thinking Skills Applied Here:
Interpretation: an explanation or way of explaining the meaning of something
Analysis: the process of breaking a complex topic into smaller parts to gain a better understanding 
Inference: a conclusion reached on the basis of evidence and reasoning

My Thinking Process:
1. Look at "Alley by the Lake" like it's a story. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words. 
2. Divide it into five parts: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and denouement to gain a better understanding (ANALYSIS)
3. Look at each part and ask: "What's happening? What does this mean?" (INTERPRETATION)
4. Based on those interpretations, make a conclusion about what's happening behind the scenes. "What are some alternatives we haven't explored?" (INFERENCE)

A male and female are strolling down a path. The ground is wet and the couple is sharing an umbrella, indicating that it is raining. It is most likely autumn because the leaves on the trees are yellow and orange. There is also a calm, blue lake to the right of the painting, which may symbolize peace.

Rising Action:
The two individuals have set out on a journey to a unknown location. One could assume that their destination isn't far away, otherwise the couple would have taken a cab (their clothing does not indicate an inability to pay for one). They also appear to be in no hurry. Instead, they are taking their time, enjoying the beauty of nature and the magic of the night.

The climax of this painting is the connection between the two individuals. They are walking together in the night, something utterly romantic in itself, holding themselves together under an umbrella in which they share. It is assumed that the two individuals are lovers.

Falling Action:
The two individuals are approaching their destination. The path and the lake disappear into the background of the painting, indicating that their journey is coming to an end.

We can assume that the two individuals are headed towards something pleasant. Based on their romantic dress (the woman's stilettos, the man's clothes) and the time of day, they may be coming from dinner. Their next destination is most likely a continuation of the evening. The colors of the trees and the lights shining down on them indicate that it will be a delightful, magical night. They are happy to spend more time together. Love is in the air!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Crtical Thinking: Analyzing Elements of Art

"The elements of art are the building blocks used by artists to create a work of art" -J. Paul Getty Trust

LINE: A line is a one-dimensional, identifiable path created by a point moving in space that holds some sort of width, direction, and length. In "Alley by the Lake", Afremov uses horizontal, vertical, diagonal, straight, curved, thick, and thin lines. Horizontal lines (seen on the ground) help give a sense of space. In this painting, the horizontal lines imply a continuation of the landscape beyond the picture plane. They ground is also painted thickly, unlike the tree branches, which are painted thinly. Vertical lines (the street lights, the trees), communicate a sense of height. This is because they are perpendicular to the earth, extending upwards towards the sky. In this painting, the vertical lines help make the scene more realistic by making the people seem like only a small part of a larger picture. The lights are also straight lines, which indicate sharpness and stability. Curved lines, like the people or the leaves in the trees, often draw attention to the horizon. They also represent the human body and have a pleasing, sensual feel. Finally, diagonal lines (where the grass meets sidewalk), are meant to convey movement because they are neither vertical nor horizontal, indicating that they are in motion. This makes sense in this piece, seeing how the people are walking on the path (which is shaped by diagonal lines), and walking away. 

SHAPE AND FORM: These elements define objects in space. Shapes have two dimensions (height and width) and are usually defined by lines, while forms have three dimensions (height, width, and depth). Because "Alley by the Lake" is a two-dimensional piece of art painted on a flat surface (a canvas), shapes are created as opposed to forms. The different types of lines mentioned earlier make the objects in the painting. Many of these are triangular or rectangular shapes such as the lake, the trees, and the alley. However, he also creates circles for light bulbs and a hemisphere for an umbrella.

SPACEIn art, space refers to a feeling of depth or three dimensions, as well as the artist's use of area within the picture plane. In "Alley by the Lake", Afremov uses space to its full capacity, leaving no part of the artwork untouched. He avoids using negative space, or the area around primary objects, by making every part of the painting a primary object, known as positive space. The trees, the people, the lights, the sky-these all stand out in the painting and occupy some sort of space. As for the direction of the artwork, Afremov uses a linear perspective that heads away from the observer on an imaginary angle, eventually disappearing into a "vanishing point". A vanishing point is a point in a perspective drawing to which parallel lines not parallel to the image plane appear to converge. In this painting, the vanishing point exists at the end of the alley, in the area around the couple's umbrella. This linear perspective can also be seen through the lights - which pass from the scene in a diagonal, linear fashion, eventually disappearing into the background (or converging into the vanishing point). As they get closer and closer to this point, there is a clear reduction in this detail and size of the shapes, indicating that they are far away and heading away from the observer.

COLOR: Hue, value, and intensity are the three main aspects of color. Color is the light reflected off objects.  In "Alley by the Lake", the colors are breathtaking. Afremov uses primary, secondary, and complimentary colors. If you look at the background alone, you can see a mixture of hues - starting from the left of the painting, where a long stretch of yellow and orange trees blend together, to a soft, hazy blue sky depicted on the right. By combining cool, watery colors with warm, fiery colors, Afremov emphasizes the beauty and magic of the nature and in the night. Such contrast makes a painting come alive. In this case, the colors also work together to depict the natural coolness in air right after it rains. When I look at this painting, I picture myself feeling cool to the touch yet warm to the heart - knowing the rain just washed away any feelings of regret and replaced them with a new beginning. The coolness and regret come from the right of the painting, where various shades of blues are used, while the feelings of warmth and excitement come from the left, where fiery hues take over. The dominant colors in this painting are black, brown, yellow, and blue. As for the value of the painting (how light or dark it is), I would say "Alley by the Lake" is a combination of both. Afremov is an optimistic painter, so it is no surprise that there is a lot of light (the sky, the lake, the lights, the leaves on the trees, etc). Overall, I feel happy looking at this painting. However, if you take a closer look, there are dark objects too, such as the trees, the light poles, and the ground. These give the painting an edgy vibe. In addition, "Alley by the Lake" is  full of intensity (how bright or dull it is). The lake and sky are gloomy, while the lights and trees are bright. There is also an emphasis on the lights in the background (they're not painted to scale- they're larger and brighter than they should be), as well as the shadows cast down on the alley. Some of the lights get lost in the wetness of the ground, while others appear to be added. The colors used in this painting create contrast: dark vs. light, cool vs. warm, gloomy vs. bright, fire vs. ice. They are blended together in a way that is simply eye-catching and marvelous. A true masterpiece, in my opinion.

TEXTURE: Through touch, we can sense the surface quality of an object. This is known as the object's texture. I would imagine that the surface of "Alley by the Lake" would be rough to the touch, due to Afremov's impasto technique. Impasto is an art term used to describe thickly textured paint that is almost three-dimensional in appearance.