The Suggestion of Space

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Vredeman de Vries, Allegory of the church

The suggestion of space on a flat surface is an art in itself. There are in fact three ways of doing this: suggesting bulges through light and shadow; suggesting depth through atmospheric phenomena and all kinds of optical tricks; suggesting depth with geometrical methods as parallel lines leading to a vanishing point on the horizon. Then there are the various applications with and without people in landscapes, in interiors, in cities, but also in still lifes.
Attached to each component is a practical assignment intended to imprint the subject matter well.
In addition, an exercise program is offered, in which we work with different materials (dry and water based) and the corresponding techniques: charcoal, pen and ink, and crayon, then gouache, in the third block of pastel chalk and in the fourth watercolor. We end with mixed techniques.


The Composition & Ordinance course is divided into 5 modules of 5 lessons each, 25 in total.
They are two programs in one: a theory program and a practical program related to different methods, materials and techniques; both programs are completed with assignments.
After each fifth lesson a reflection takes place in a video conference.

Assignments and exercises
Each lesson deals with a different aspect of knowledge, to which an assignment is linked.
The practical exercises deal in more detail with methods, materials and techniques, also here explanations are connected with assignments.
The assignments (texts and/or photo’s of created work) are uploaded on the site and provided with comments within 4 days (in case of an unexpected delay consultation will follow within 4 days).
After receiving the comment on the submitted assignments, the next lesson can be opened.

In addition to commenting on results, the focus is on the development process. This will be further discussed during the reflection.
This takes place after each module of 5 lessons: student and teacher meet in a digital meeting and discuss progress together.

Free working periods
Five times a year, free work periods are scheduled in which no comments or reflections are made. These coincide with the (Dutch) holiday periods and last for a fortnight (in summer eight weeks).
It concerns the following weeks:
1: Week 7-8; 2: Week 17-18; 3: Week 27-34; 4: Week 42-43; 5: Week 52-53
Participants can use these periods to catch up on any arrears, or to expand training.
During one of these free work periods, an annual Practicum is organised in which participants can take physical lessons from international guest lecturers, possibly combined with a conference.
For this purpose, a separate entry should be made.

Programme overview

Module I:
Theory: Plasticity
Suggesting plasticity on a flat surface and the rules that apply to it
Practical exercises: Introduction in drawing techniques.
The laws of light and shadow, the adequate dosing of the right tone values in the right places and that in various drawing techniques.

Module II:
Theory: Optical perspective
Basic principles in creating depth, different methods of suggesting space
Practical exercises: Underpainting
Basic knowledge of substance and kinds of paints. The making of a spatial tonal underpainting (in Dutch: deathpainting) in various applications. The usefulness of monochrome underpaintings such as ‘grisailles’, ‘brunailles’, ‘vertailles’ and so on.

Module III:
Theory: The functioning of the eye
Atmospheric perspective, the field of vision and usefulness and necessity of the moving horizon.
Practical exercises: Techniques in pastel
Drawing/painting with soft pastels: practising with colour swatches, applying tones and handwriting; limited use of colour, possibly with colour accents.

Module IV:
Theory: The geometric perspective
Central and angular perspective; The spatial illusion as a geometric game: various construction methods for buildings, roads, objects, etc.
Practical exercises: Transparent techniques
Techniques with watercolours, the English and the French variant. Applications combined with drawing and with various subjects.

Module V:
Theory: Applications
Various variants in the geometric perspective: from circle to vault, from wheel to mirror.
Practical exercises: mixed techniques
Combining transparent with opaque layers of paint, different forms of calculated use of both layers in one painting.

If you are interested in this course you can first open the free trial lesson : Click here
Registration then will be done by completing the assignment and uploading the result.