Seeing Planes in Art
What are Planes?
How do I see planes?
In this blog you will heighten your art education by learning how to see planes. Students often can’t decipher separate planes on a subject, which weakens the structural strength of their work. It is important to be aware of planes and to see them clearly. If students want to learn how to paint, then understanding the logic behind planes and light is vital. Most art students do not look for how light defines planes, so their art work lacks dimension.
Planes – Planes happen when forms turn. Forms that belong to a single plane share similar values. Keeping values together in a plane is how an artist creates dimension on a flat surface. Planes help create dimension.
A box has six sides–a front, a back, two sides, a top and a bottom. Being aware of planes and their value shifts will help you describe form.
Planes as They Relate to the Human Figure (excerpts from the Language of Drawing by Sherrie McGraw)
“Though the human figure does not have the configuration of a box, it has the qualities of a box– the torso has a top, two sides, a front, a back and a bottom. The limbs individually echo the same planes. I don’t teach methods because ultimately they separate the artist from his or her subject. Simply looking with the idea of a box or a cylinder creates a new way of seeing the subject, and it will help maintain the connection with your subject. The result is sensitive work that continues to improve.
When a form makes a definite turn, a new plane begins. Students should study the planes of the largest form, and then later, focus on the smaller forms that are particular to that model. Though each person’s form is individual, there are similar qualities that make people more alike than different.
Planes alter value depending on their angle to the light. Planes directly opposite the light are the lightest value; those angled away from the light are darker light; while those turned completely away from the light source are in shadow. This phenomenon plays out subtly and beautifully on the intricacies of the human form.”
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