T-shirt update, and a lesson in GESTALT

It was suggested that I tweak the t-shirt a bit to make the emphasized words stand out more, and I have done so:

Better?  I think so.

On Twitter the other day, MOMA posted a link to some painting, and it led me down the rabbit hole to this painting:

Joan Mitchell, Ladybug.  1957.  MOMA

Joan Mitchell's Ladybug is an instructive example of GESTALT.  At first glance, it seems that she has done a masterful job of gesturing paint onto the surface of the white canvas, creating a tempestuous swarm of strokes.  Clearly she built up the painting stroke by stroke, adding color choices here and there until — ta-da! — she was done.

Not quite.

Look more closely.  If you have to, click through to MOMA's site and click on the painting to enlarge it.  What appeared to be a white background is not so simple: she has used white as one of her "strokes," often covering what was there before and bringing the "background" to the fore.

Here, for example:

mitchell clip 2.png

Almost all the white you see is on top of the colored strokes, and the one oblong shape in the top center is in fact the foremost layer of paint in that area.

Here's the lesson: as Mitchell worked, she didn't just leave the white background showing.  She stepped back, didn't like the amount of color in one area or the other, and so went back to add white to the image, covering up what she had done before.

Too blue, too red, too busy, too... something.  Something was missing, and so she added it. 

And what she added was "nothing."  Think about it.


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